Words by Jodie Kharas
Autumn is undoubtedly our favourite season. The colours, crunchy textures and the golden sunlight. But annoyingly, it seems to be the briefest season too. Each year, we get just 6-8 weeks of autumn if we’re lucky, at the tail end of summer and before the first frost of winter. With this in mind, we’ve come up with a list of our top three autumnal walks in London, so you can get out there and kick up the leaves before it’s too late.
Officially the largest open space in London, Epping Forest stretches across almost 6000 acres, so it’s perfect if you want to dedicate an entire day to a long walk. A former Royal hunting forest, don’t leave without visiting Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge which was built for King Henry VIII, way back in 1543. Highlights include groups of Fallow Deer roaming free and gigantic Oak, Beech and Hornbeam trees that are now hundreds of years old. Grace & Thorn founder, Nik, lives nearby and often collects fallen Acorns and berries as souvenirs. At this time of year, look out for Blackberries and Crab Apples.
This stunning marsh land was heavily drained in Medieval times and was later incorporated into the massive Lea Valley Park in 1967. Eerily peaceful and super picturesque, there’s nothing like an amble along the River Lea before exploring the Marshes on a crisp autumn day. Depending on how long you have, Grace & Thorn recommend starting your walk from Ferry Lane, a stone’s throw from Tottenham Hale station. From here, you can trace the river into Walthamstow marshes, where you’ll see legions of beautiful Bull Rushes and Spear Thistles. Continue to Hackney Marshes to find clusters of delicious Rose Hip berries. According to our sources, these tiny vitamin C filled berries are great on top of your morning porridge, just remove the seeds and tiny hairs first.
Supposedly London’s longest nature reserve, Parkland Walk traces a disused railway line that ran from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace in the 19th Century. There were even plans to incorporate it into the Northern Line but following World War 2, services stopped completely. Now, the 4.5 mile stretch has completely given way to beautiful, sprawling nature. Start the trail at the footpath on Oxford Road in Finsbury Park and follow it all the way to Highgate. On the way you’ll see Holly Bushes, vibrant Michaelmas Daisies (over 200 species of wild flowers grow here throughout the year) and plenty of street art. Look out for bright red Hawthorn berries as well, which can be eaten raw as long as you don’t eat the seeds. If you manage to resist until you get home, you can make delicious jelly from them, which works amazingly with cheese and charcuterie.