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10 Hidden Gems only an hour away from London

Updated: Mar 14

Your Ultimate Guide to exploring off-the-beaten track locations only an hour away from London!


London is regarded as one of the best cities in the entire world, let alone the UK! However, with that comes the mass tourists which visit the famous landmarks such as Big Ben and The London Eye.


If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life, then why not take yourself to some of these hidden gems which are only an hour away from London?


Here are 10 of the best hidden gems located only an hour away from London, perfect for a short weekend trip away out of the city!


Image of London


1) Virginia Water Lake and Cascade, Surrey


This hidden gem is a lovely place to visit, with plenty of things to admire such as the beautiful bridges, statues, lake, garden as well as the cool waterfall most people miss! The full loop around the lake is a good 14km walk and it's fairly flat so the majority of walkers should fine this walk easy enough to complete.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Virginia Water Lake and Cascade


1) Where is Virginia Water Lake and Cascade located?

Virginia Water Lake and Cascade are located within the expansive Windsor Great Park in Surrey, England. This picturesque landscape is easily accessible by road and public transportation, making it a popular destination for visitors from Surrey and beyond.


2) What can visitors expect to see at Virginia Water Lake and Cascade?

Virginia Water Lake is a stunning man-made lake surrounded by woodland and adorned with ornamental features, including the iconic Cascade waterfall. Visitors can enjoy leisurely walks around the lake, take in the scenic views, and admire the majestic cascade, which is particularly breathtaking when flowing.


3) Are there any recreational activities available at Virginia Water Lake?

Yes, Virginia Water Lake offers a range of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. These include walking, cycling, picnicking, and wildlife spotting. The lake's tranquil surroundings make it an ideal spot for relaxation and outdoor pursuits, attracting nature enthusiasts, families, and leisure seekers alike.


Image of Virginia Water Lake and Waterfall
Photo by @stef__lewis via Instagram

2) Epping Forest, Essex


One of our favourite forests to walk around when in and around London is Epping Forest, which is just in between London and Essex. You can walk from Manor Park to Waltham Abbey and be in the forest for majority of the journey. You can even hire a boat for a cool boating experience!


Make sure you bring seeds or sweetcorn for the birds, not bread!


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Epping Forest


1) Where is Epping Forest located?

Epping Forest is situated in Essex, England, spanning across approximately 6,000 acres of ancient woodland. It is easily accessible from various parts of Essex and London, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers.


2) What can visitors do at Epping Forest?

Visitors to Epping Forest can enjoy a wide range of activities, including walking, cycling, horse riding, and wildlife watching. The forest boasts numerous trails and paths that wind through its ancient woodland, offering opportunities to explore its diverse flora and fauna.


3) Is there any historical significance to Epping Forest?

Yes, Epping Forest has a rich history dating back centuries. It was once part of the royal hunting grounds of Henry VIII and has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to its ecological importance and biodiversity.


Image of Epping Forest in Essex
Photo by @tom1tc via Instagram

3) St. Ann's Hill, Surrey


St Ann's Hill is a great place to go for a walk with friends, family and even the dog(s)! You'll be rewarded with amazing landscape views of Surrey, and you'll even get a good view of Heathrow Airport. It's quite easy to get lost, however there are route markers to help you along the way.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting St. Ann's Hill


1) Where is St. Ann's Hill located?

St. Ann's Hill is situated in Chertsey, Surrey, England. It is a prominent landmark in the area, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the River Thames.


2) What can visitors do at St. Ann's Hill?

Visitors to St. Ann's Hill can enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, picnicking, and wildlife spotting. The hill is home to diverse flora and fauna, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts.


3) Is there any historical significance to St. Ann's Hill?

Yes, St. Ann's Hill has historical significance dating back centuries. It is home to an ancient hill fort believed to have been constructed during the Iron Age. Additionally, the hill features remnants of a medieval chapel dedicated to St. Ann.


Image of St Ann's Hill
Photo by @leafxmalone via Instagram


4) Therfield Heath, Hertfordshire


Therfield Health is absolutely gorgeous especially on a clear summers day. It's a very versatile place, and has greenfields, tree lines, woods and small hills, perfect for a day out near London! If you're into trail running or are looking to spice up your normal running routine, then give this place a try!


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Therfield Heath


1) Where is Therfield Heath located?

Therfield Heath is situated near the village of Therfield, just south of Royston in Hertfordshire, England. It covers a vast area of heathland and grassland, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside.


2) What activities can I enjoy at Therfield Heath?

Visitors to Therfield Heath can partake in a variety of outdoor activities, including walking, jogging, picnicking, and birdwatching. The heath is also popular for dog walking and kite flying, providing ample space for recreational pursuits.


3) Is Therfield Heath of any historical significance?

Yes, Therfield Heath holds historical importance dating back centuries. It is home to ancient burial mounds and earthworks, indicating human occupation since prehistoric times. Additionally, the heath played a role in medieval times as a common grazing area and later as a training ground for soldiers during World War II.


Image of Therfield Heath
Photo taken by @tuffers26 via Instagram

5) The Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire


If you're looking for a full-day hike, then look no further then The Chiltern Hills. You'll be able to do a 20km hike at this hidden gem, with an elevation of around 400m which is pretty decent for a hill! As one of England's most heavily wooded areas, The Chiltern Hills AONB is an essential habitat for a range of insects, birds and mammals.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting The Chiltern Hills


1) Where are the Chiltern Hills located?

The Chiltern Hills are located in Buckinghamshire, England, stretching from the River Thames in the south to the town of Hitchin in the north. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) encompasses picturesque countryside, charming villages, and ancient woodlands.


2) What outdoor activities can I enjoy in the Chiltern Hills?

Visitors to the Chiltern Hills can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, horse riding, and wildlife watching. There are numerous walking trails and cycle routes that meander through the rolling hills, offering stunning views and opportunities to explore the diverse landscape.


3) Are there any notable landmarks or attractions in the Chiltern Hills?

Yes, the Chiltern Hills are home to several notable landmarks and attractions. These include historic market towns such as Great Missenden and Wendover, the majestic Chequers Estate (the official country residence of the Prime Minister), and ancient sites like the Iron Age hill fort at Ivinghoe Beacon.


Additionally, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden celebrates the life and works of the famous author.


Image of The Chiltern Hills
Photo taken by @laura_anderton_on_the_go via Instagram

6) Devil's Dyke, Surrey


The Devil's Dyke is a beautiful location and is great for walks especially with the family and fluffy companions! There are different paths to follow, depending on the duration and difficulty you're after, but even the most difficult walk isn't too challenging (a couple hours long and a little steep). But once you're at the top the views are absolutely stunning!


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Devil's Dyke


1) What is Devil's Dyke and where is it located?

Devil's Dyke is a stunning natural landmark located in Surrey, England, near the village of Hurst Green. It is a deep, steep-sided valley carved out by erosion over millions of years, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the North Downs.


2) What activities can I enjoy at Devil's Dyke?

Visitors to Devil's Dyke can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, picnicking, birdwatching, and photography. There are several scenic walking trails that meander through the valley and along the ridge, providing opportunities to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the area.


3) Is Devil's Dyke accessible by public transport?

Yes, Devil's Dyke is accessible by public transport. There are regular bus services from nearby towns and cities, including Guildford and Dorking, that stop at or near Devil's Dyke. Additionally, there is a car park available for those who prefer to drive to the site.


Image of Devil's Dyke
Photo by @thisissussex via Instagram


7) Leith Hill, Surrey


Welcome to Leith Hill; the highest point in the Surrey Hills and the second highest point in the South East of England at a whopping 294 meters. You'll be presented with beautiful views across the South as well as plenty of countryside and woodland to explore. Just watch out for those cyclists!


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Leith Hill


1) What is Leith Hill and where is it located?

Leith Hill is the highest point in Surrey, England, offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. It is located near the village of Coldharbour, approximately 7 miles southwest of Dorking. Leith Hill is renowned for its natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and historic landmarks.


2) What activities can I enjoy at Leith Hill?

Visitors to Leith Hill can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, picnicking, and nature watching. There are several scenic walking trails that lead to the summit, where you'll find the iconic Leith Hill Tower, built in the 18th century, offering unparalleled views from its viewing platform.


3) Is Leith Hill accessible by public transport?

While Leith Hill is primarily accessed by car, it is also reachable by public transport. There are bus services available from nearby towns like Dorking, which stop within walking distance of the hill. Additionally, there are designated parking areas for visitors who prefer to drive to the site.


Image of Leith Hill
Photo by @vazie1664 via Instagram

8) Abinger Hammer, Surrey


Abinger Hammer is a cute little village located in the South of Surrey between Dorking and Guildford, and is the perfect place to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of London life! It's a small village that features a green which has a small stream running through it, as well as a classic pub and village shop.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Abinger Hammer


1) What is Abinger Hammer and what makes it a hidden gem?

Abinger Hammer is a charming village located in the heart of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is known for its picturesque scenery, historic buildings, and tranquil atmosphere.


The village features a traditional working forge, which is a popular attraction among visitors. Abinger Hammer's hidden gem status stems from its unspoiled beauty and relatively undiscovered nature compared to more well-known destinations in Surrey.


2) What attractions can I visit in Abinger Hammer?

While Abinger Hammer is a small village, it offers several attractions worth exploring. Visitors can stroll through the village to admire its historic cottages and buildings, including the 17th-century forge, which still operates today.


The nearby Abinger Common provides opportunities for scenic walks and wildlife spotting, while the surrounding countryside offers excellent hiking and cycling routes.


3) Are there any amenities in Abinger Hammer for visitors?

Despite its small size, Abinger Hammer offers a range of amenities for visitors. The village has a charming tearoom and a pub where visitors can enjoy a meal or refreshments. Additionally, there are public toilets available for convenience.


While Abinger Hammer may not have extensive facilities, its peaceful ambiance and natural beauty make it a delightful destination for a day trip or a relaxing getaway.


Image of Abinger Hammer
Photo by @daveconnolly1979 via Instagram

9) Houghton Mill, Cambridgeshire


Houghton Mill is a stunning mill set in beautiful surroundings and definitely one to visit for the day. There is plenty to see and we recommend going on a day when the mill is running so you get a full flavour of its use and history! There's also a lake nearby, in which if you're a fan of paddle boarding, kayaking or fancy a boat trip, why not hire one out?


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Houghton Mill


1) What is Houghton Mill and why is it considered a hidden gem?

Houghton Mill is a historic watermill located on the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire. It is renowned for its picturesque setting, scenic riverside walks, and well-preserved 17th-century architecture.


Houghton Mill's hidden gem status arises from its serene ambiance, away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, making it a peaceful retreat for visitors seeking a tranquil escape in nature.


2) What attractions can visitors expect to find at Houghton Mill?

Visitors to Houghton Mill can explore the fully operational watermill, learning about its fascinating history and the role it played in the local community. The surrounding area offers opportunities for leisurely walks along the riverbank, picnics in the scenic meadows, and wildlife watching.


The mill also hosts events and activities throughout the year, including milling demonstrations and guided tours.


3) Are there facilities available at Houghton Mill for visitors?

Houghton Mill provides various facilities to enhance visitors' experiences. These include a visitor center where guests can obtain information about the mill and its surroundings, as well as a gift shop offering locally sourced products and souvenirs. Additionally, there are picnic areas, toilets, and parking facilities available onsite for the convenience of visitors.


Image of Houghton Mill
Photo by @chrisnicknackynoo via Instagram


10) Box Hill, Surrey


Box Hill is a great place to hike for those wanting to give themselves a bit of a challenge. It has a variety of different trails which can be chosen according to your stamina from steep uphill to sharp downhill, as well as tough to moderate. However at the end you'll be rewarded with extraordinary panoramic views!


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Box Hill


1) What is Box Hill and why is it considered a hidden gem?

Box Hill is a stunning natural area located in Surrey, renowned for its breathtaking views, diverse wildlife, and extensive network of walking and cycling trails.


Despite its proximity to London, Box Hill maintains its hidden gem status due to its tranquil atmosphere and unspoiled beauty, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a peaceful escape from city life.


2) What activities can visitors enjoy at Box Hill?

Visitors to Box Hill can engage in a variety of activities suited to all ages and interests. Popular pursuits include hiking along the scenic trails, picnicking amidst the picturesque landscape, and spotting wildlife such as butterflies, birds, and rare orchids.


Additionally, cyclists can enjoy challenging rides along the winding roads, while families can partake in outdoor games and exploration.


3) Are there facilities available at Box Hill for visitors?

Box Hill offers several amenities to enhance visitors' experiences. These include a visitor center providing information about the area's history, geology, and ecology, as well as a cafe serving refreshments and locally sourced food.


There are also toilet facilities, car parking areas, and accessible pathways for the convenience of visitors. Additionally, guided walks and events are often organized throughout the year, providing opportunities for further exploration and learning.


Image of Box Hill in Surrey
Photo by @leonardo_trotti via Instagram

There you have it! These are 10 of our favourite hidden gems located only an hour away from London, perfect for your next adventure! Whether you plan to do a road trip in and around London or are visiting for the summer, you should definitely check out some of these hidden gems.


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