The scorching temperatures of the Easter weekend signified that summer is just around the corner. Millions of Brits hit the road in search for the best parks, beaches and trails to soak up the sun. If you are looking to escape London for the May bank holiday, here’s a select list of hikes accessible from the capital that lend themselves to the bettering weather.
1.Botany Bay, Margate, Kent
Margate seems to be the place to go to for Londoners at the moment. Under an hour from Liverpool Street, you can enjoy a day in the seaside town with an array of great galleries, most notably the Pie Factory and the Turner Contemporary. There is also no shortage of a great places to eat. The highlight, however, is the stunning coastal walk from Margate to Broadstairs. This walk takes you through both Botany and Joss Bay, known for their soft sand and smugglers caves.
Train: Head to Margate Station
Car: Head to Trinity Square Car Park in central Margate, CT9 1LZ
Winkworth Arboretum plays host to some of the best bluebell woodlands in the UK. If you time it right, normally late April and early May, you will find yourself wondering through endless areas of spectacular swathes of bluebells. The area is well run by National Trust and they have plenty of information about the area on their website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/winkworth-arboretum Although Spring is the areas busiest time of year it is well worth a visit. If you want to avoid the crowds, then plan a trip out of the school holidays.
Train: Head to Godalming Station, then a short bus ride or taxi.
Car: Head to Hascombe Rd, Godalming, GU8 4AD. There is parking available, please check website for more information.
Tring in Hertfordshire is another great area to view bluebells in the UK. My favourite walk (see link below) starts with you leaving Tring behind and quickly climbing up onto the down which overlooks the surrounding farmland. The route takes you along the crest to reach the impressive views from Ivinghoe Beacon. The second half of the walk is in my opinion the highlight. The Ashridge Estate includes extensive woodlands which are beautiful in every season. The post-card perfect bluebells at Ashridge are without doubt one of the finest and most spectacular bluebell displays in all England and a sure sign spring has arrived. With lofty beech trees creating an atmospheric and shady woodland; the path beckons you to venture further, deeper into the woodland and further away from wherever you came from. After all that you can treat yourself to lunch at a fantastic country pub (see link). It’s only a short walk back to the station afterwards.
Train: Head to Tring Station
Car: Head to Tring Station
A tailor-made map and directions are available from Vespucci Adventures
4. Corfe Castle & Kimmeridge Bay, Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic coast has to be one of the most unique seafront experiences in Europe. Millions of years of erosion have resulted in one of the most rugged, beautiful and geologically fascinating walking routes this island has to offer. You can have the full coastal experience with sandy beaches, cliffs, stacks arches, coves, caves and headlands but you can also take in the imposing Purbeck Hills and finish up arriving on foot at the ancient and iconic Corfe Castle. Pick up some fossils, assault the castle, raise your eyebrows at the oldest Nodding Donkey in the UK, catch a breather on one of the beaches along the route. Whatever your thing is, we guarantee you’ll find it in the wild landscape of Dorset.
Train: catch the train to Wareham. Corfe Castle is a 10-minute bus ride away.
Car: park at Corfe Castle National Trust Visitor Centre, BH20 5DR
5.Arun Valley and Arundel, South Downs
The Arun Valley in the South Downs is easily accessible by train from Amberley Station and there is also good parking. Start by picking up the Monarch’s Way: the lungs get a decent work out shortly after entering the Arundel Estate. There are wonderful views to the South Downs before a short detour gives you a first glimpse of the magical Arundel Castle. Within a couple of hours of setting off, you have arrived in Arundel, a town well worth a look around. Indeed, if you want time to explore the Castle and the shops, the Norfolk Arms is a great place for a bite to eat. Once you have crossed the River Arun you will find The George at Burpham – an ideal spot for a pint. Then make your way back to Amberley station, completely reinvigorated after a great day’s walking.
Train: Head to Amberley Station
Car: Head to Amberley Station car park
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Alex Middleton is CEO and Founder of Vespucci Adventures