With over 600 square miles and 32 boroughs to explore, London is quite simply one of the densest, most diverse cities in the world. When you’re between meetings or have no London holiday plans, you might find yourself on the search for something to kill the time one afternoon.
Whilst there’s plenty to keep you occupied with our Montcalm Club Packages, you’ll no doubt want to explore the great outdoors of London, especially in the summer months. Whether you have an hour to kill or a whole afternoon, London is full to the brim with historic outdoor excitement, shining a new light on the cities past whilst continuously finding new ways to keep up with the modern world.
Below are some of the best outdoor spots that lie off the London beaten track. Each has its own unique reputation and offers up flexible activities and easy transport links.
The Horniman Museum and Gardens
Based in Forest Hill, the Horniman Museum was the creation of Frederick Horniman, a tea trader and collector who immortalised his collection of ancient musical instruments and taxidermy into a unique South East London museum. With a broad-spanning range of permanent and temporary exhibitions, the Horniman Museum is also home to delightfully diverse gardens, complete with a butterfly house, nature trail and idyllic conservatory – perfect for a summer afternoon.
Dating back to the 12th century, Eltham Palace was originally bequeathed to Edward III and spent 200 years as a Greenwich based royal residence. Now unoccupied, the English Heritage Trust have restored the house, renovating its art deco interior and maintaining the beautiful gardens surrounding it.
For guests of the Montcalm at the Brewery London City, Epping Forest is an easy to reach pocket of beautiful ancient forest. Easy to reach by the Central Line from Liverpool Street, this 12 mile stretch of forest is full to the brim with oak and beech trees, alongside lakes, ponds and an area reserved for native deer.
Based in Bexley, Danson Park has become one of the go-to parks in South East London. With 75 hectares of land, this park is popular with locals and is home to Danson House in its centre. Built in the 1760s by Sir John Boyd, this Grade II listed mansion acts as the centre point for the nature reserve, which often hosts firework displays, circuses and arts festivals. Check the park’s website for details of their upcoming events.
London Wetland Centre
Based in Richmond, the London Wetlands Centre is a nature reserve and environmental education centre built on the site of repurposed Victorian reservoirs. With a wide range of migrating birds and animals, you can discover otters, herons and many other unique species within the beautiful grounds. The animals in the Wetlands Centre are especially abundant during the summer months when many European species migrate to the area.
Based in Hounslow in North West London, Syon Park is a beautiful natural conservation area centred around Syon House, the Grade I listed home of the Duke of Northumberland. With its proximity to the River Thames, this is an idyllic parkland, teeming with lakes, canals and beautiful greenery.
This North London member of the Magnificent 7 royal cemeteries is the resting place of many iconic figures, such as Douglas Adams, George Eliot and Karl Marx resting there. Highgate Cemetery has amassed over 170,000 gravesites, and it’s beautiful tombs and crypts make for atmospheric exploration.
A short walk from Highgate, close to 5 star luxury hotels in London, and running all the way to Hampstead is Hampstead Heath, a North London nature reserve which consists of 320 hectares of beautiful park space. Teeming with nature trails, hills and ancient woodlands, Hampstead Heath is perfect for a summer stroll. Be sure not to miss the Hampstead swimming ponds, perfect for a freshwater dip on a hot summer’s day.
Created in the mid 18th century, Painshill Park is one of London’s finest examples of a landscape park, a style of design fashionable at the time. Painshill Park is the home of a cedar tree, thought to be the largest in Europe, and has collated a number of unique attractions throughout the centuries. These include the ominous Gothic Tower, a crystal grotto and a reconstructed Temple of Bacchus.
This West London Palladian villa is one of the best examples of the architectural style in London. Chiswick House is a beautiful 18th-century manor surrounded by landscaped Chiswick Gardens. Formerly the home of the Earl of Burlington, the house is now an English Heritage site and is open to the public.
West London’s Richmond Park (a bit of a trek from West End restaurants) is a vast nature reserve and conservation area, consisting of 955 hectares of grassy fields and pockets of forest. Once the private hunting ground of Charles I, Richmond Park has since been opened to the public, and the deer that the former King would stalk as prizes in the 17th century have since flourished into semi-wild herds scattered through the green plains.
The wind-beaten fields of Richmond Park make this a prime spot to visit at any time of the year.
Morden Hall Park
With a dog-friendly cafe to escape the rain in, an exhibition space and a second-hand bookshop, Morden Hall Park is more than just a National Trust Garden. With the River Wandle running through its green hills and footbridges, the park is a perfect destination for South London strollers and outer borough explorers.
Hackney and Tottenham Marshes
Running through the Hackney and Tottenham area, the marshes and reservoirs of East London are easily reachable for guests at the M by Montcalm. With delightful canalside pubs and many nature trails to explore, the Hackney Marshes are a nature reserve and conservation area nestled between Hackney and Walthamstow. With its canal networks stretching all the way to the Olympic Park from Walthamstow reservoirs, Hackney and Tottenham marshes span for a good 6 kilometres, making them perfect for summer cycling trips and weekend rambles.