The Best Wildlife Spots Just Outside of London
As the sun returns to our lives again, there are few easier and more rewarding treats than a quick getaway to the nearby countryside. The UK’s flora and fauna may not be the first thing you find in tourism guides, but the greenery around London is home to a diverse range of wildlife – if you know where to look. From weird and wonderful wetland habitats to stunning woodland stretches, here are our favourite wildlife spots within just one hour of central London.
JOURNEY: 50 minutes (Kings Cross St Pancras to Rye House station)
A hotspot for kingfishers in the coming months, Rye Meads Nature Reserve is an immaculately kept stretch of wetlands north of the capital. Although it’s a reliable bird-watching spot for some of the country’s regulars – kestrels, buzzards, herons – the reserve’s *HL*Recent Sightings page shows that you can also come across some truly rare species.
JOURNEY: 1 hour (Victoria to Vauxhall, Vauxhall to Putney, 85 bus southwards)
When you get deep into the heart of Richmond park, it’s hard to believe you’re still in London. With clear skylines and treetops as far as the eye can see, it’s a stunning wildlife hotspot, with open fields and woodland habitats in equal measure. It’s hard to understate how big the park is, covering a space almost 25 times the size of Finsbury park and accommodating some 650 deer.
JOURNEY: 50 minutes (Euston to Berkhamsted station, walk)
The good thing about the woodlands around Ashridge in Hertfordshire is that there is something special in store all the year round. Autumn? Stunning colours and rutting deer. Winter? Beautiful, frosty morning walks. Spring? Possibly the best bluebell display anywhere in the country. And summer? Birds, deer, flowers, and greenery.
JOURNEY: 1 hour (Holborn to Loughton station, walk)
12 miles north-east and even reachable by London Underground, Epping Forrest is one of the best wildlife spots near London for native mammals. As well as a protected population of deer, it’s a good place to look for hares, hedgehogs, and weasels – just to name a few. In the early Spring they can all be seen out celebrating the end of winter, so a sunny morning walk in March or April is hard to beat.
JOURNEY: 50 minutes (London Bridge to North Greenwich, 244 bus southwards)
A night-time treat for the fearless amongst you, Oxleas Wood in South-East London is a prime habitat for one of our favourite local creatures: bats! You can pick a dry evening and go it alone, but we recommend the guided walks run by Friends of Oxleas Woodlands. The guides know the best spots in the wood and are filled to the brim with bat-related factoids.
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