Wondering where to take your family walks in lockdown 2.0? This post will give all the information you need to enjoy your outside time in London this November.
As England heads back into its second lockdown due to the coronavirus, the national restrictions are quite different to those we experienced in March. This time, outdoor exercise and time enjoying open air places is actively encouraged, without any suggested time limits. You can only visit with your household group or support bubble, or if you’re on your own (or with children under school age), with one other person.
Many museum and heritage grounds, botanic gardens, parks and outdoor green spaces remain open. Most have confirmed their car parks, cafés (takeaway only) and – most importantly – toilets will remain open. Some have limited entry numbers to make social distancing easier – don’t forget to book ahead where you can. To help you find places to enjoy outdoor time, here’s a list of places in and near London which will remain open during November’s lockdown.
This post was last edited on November 12 2020. Please use the links provided to check directly with the venue for the most up-to-date information.
National Trust are keeping open the outdoor spaces they care for, including gardens and parklands, as well as coast and countryside sites and car parks. All houses in England are closed. Here are the London National Trust sites remaining open in November:
NB – Tickets for the following week are released first thing on a Friday morning.
The restored 17th century gardens which surround Ham House sit on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond. As well as formal and open gardens, see what’s growing in the kitchen garden or play chase in the maze-like ‘Wilderness’. Take the Peter Rabbit trail (from 23 November 2020, £2 per trail pack) for nature-themed active challenges throughout the garden, and a Peter Rabbit selfie station.
Opening hours: 10:00-16:00
Pre-booking: Required for weekends and weekday visits before 12pm. Pre-booking for weekday visits after 12pm is not always required but still recommended
Parking: Severely limited, not National Trust
Cost: £5 adults, £2.50 child, £7.50 / £12.50 family (1A / 2A). FREE National Trust members and under 5s.
More information: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ham-house-and-garden
Once a former deer park and snuff mill site, now Morden Hall Park is an 125 acre oasis in south London surburbia. Numerous footbridges span the meandering River Wandle, or walk the wetlands boardwalk.
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
Parking: Limited. 10:00-16:00
Toilets: 10:00-16:00, Stableyard
More information: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/morden-hall-park
Osterley Park and House in Hounslow is one of the last surviving country estates in London. Surrounded by gardens, park and farmland, the house gardens feature restored 18th century gardens, a woodland walk and an ancient meadow. The wider parkland is open to all, and boasts 3.5km of recently upgraded walking trails and a woodland cycle skills area.
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00 (park) ; 10:00-17:00 (garden)
Pre-booking: Recommended, especially weekends (garden); No (park)
Parking: 10:00-17:00. FREE National Trust members, otherwise £7 per vehicle
Playgrounds: Rope swing in garden closed. Play trail and cycle skills area in park open. Cycle hire suspended
Cost: FREE, park only. Garden £5 adults, £2.50 child, £7.50 / £12.50 family (1A / 2A). FREE members and under 5s
More information: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/osterley-park-and-house
Search for more National Trust places near you at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/days-out.
English Heritage will be keeping a selection of their sites with large outdoors space open during November in every English region. Find and book English Heritage places open near you at https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/plan-your-visit/#section1. Here’s the London selection:
Eltham Palace and Gardens offers 19 acres of award-winning gardens, weaving medieval remains into its two levels. There’s long grass meadows, a beautifully planted wide border, a formal rose garden and a rock garden where cascading water fills a wide moat teaming with fish. Near the car park, the wooden outdoor play area is inspired by the Courtauld’s world travels.
Opening hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00-16:00 (last entry 15:00)
Cost: £17.30 adults, £10.40 child 5-17, £44.50 (2A+3C) / £27.70 (1A+3C). FREE members and under 5s.
More info: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/eltham-palace-and-gardens/
Kenwood‘s 112 acres of glorious parkland are set on the crest of one of the most popular open spaces in the capital, Hampstead Heath.
Explore the ancient woodland, wander the lake, look out for the beautiful sculptures and sham bridge, or bring a kite to fly!
Opening hours: 7am – 7.30pm.
Parking: Yes, paid (FREE members)
Cafés: 09:00-17:00 (Brew House) and 09:00-16:00 (Steward’s Room)
More info: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/kenwood/
Marble Hill House 66 acres of riverside parkland near Richmond are open, along with its outdoor exhibitions Marble Hill Remembers (1-18 November 2020) and Exhibition of Hope (until 30 November 2020).
Opening hours: 07:00-16:30
More info: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/marble-hill-house/
Chelsea Physic Garden will remain open throughout lockdown to provide a green space for their local community. Founded in 1673, it is the oldest botanic garden in London and home to over 5,000 different medicinal, herbal and useful plants.
Opening hours: Mondays to Fridays and Sundays, 10:00-15:00 (last entry 14:30)
Pre-booking: Essential, recommend Friends reserve a free ticket
Cost: £9.50 adults, £7.50 children 5-15, concessions and family ticket available.
More info: https://www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk/
From the vast Arboretum to an Alpine rock garden, there’s something to see in every corner of Kew Gardens. Most excitingly for families, the 40 acre Children’s Garden remains open – just don’t forget to add on a play session for each child when you pre-book your main Kew Gardens tickets.
Opening hours: Until 17 November 10:00–16:15 (last entry 15:15); from 17 November 10:00-15:00 (last entry 14:00)
Parking: Parking around Kew is very limited. Consider walking or cycling if you can
Café: Yes, The Orangery, Victoria Gate Café, White Peaks, and pop-ups around the Gardens
Playground: Children’s Garden open for pre-booked sessions only
Cost: £11 adults, £4.50 children 4-15, £5.50 16-24, FREE under 5s and Blue Light Card holders; concessions and family tickets available.
More info: https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens
NB: All indoor spaces are closed.
Wakehurst is Kew’s wild botanic garden, home to over 500 acres of the world’s plants in the heart of Sussex. We find it generally quieter than its sister site, with more spectacular and rugged scenery.
Parking: Open. FREE to garden entry ticket holders and Kew and Wakehurst members. Charges apply to National Trust members
Opening hours: 10:00–16:30 (last entry 16:00)
Café: Pop-up outdoor stands, accepting card payments only
Playgrounds: Tree trunk trail in Coates Wood open
Cost: £14.50 adult, £7.25 17-25, FREE children 0-16. FREE National Trust members (parking fees apply); Blue Light Card holders
More info: https://www.kew.org/wakehurst
NB: All indoor spaces, including the Millenium Seed Bank, are closed. Options for hosting Glow Wild lantern trail are still being reviewed.
London museum grounds and gardens
Whilst London’s museums are closed, many have kept their gardens and grounds open, so that local people can exercise in their outdoor space. All in this list are FREE, and are primarily intended for use by people within walking or cycling distance. They do not need to be pre-booked.
Chiswick House has 65 acres of gardens, from classical vistas to ponds, fountains and an 18th century wilderness. Download their autumn scavenger hunt.
Opening hours: Daily 7am – Dusk
Café: Open daily, 08:00-17:00 for takeaway
Fulham Palace is the second oldest botanic garden in London, with 13 acres and a walled garden.
Opening hours: Daily dawn til dusk (botanic garden); 10:15-15:45 (walled garden)
Café: Open 7-8 and 14-15 November, 09:00-15:30. Takeaway menu here
Gunnersbury Park Museum offers 75 hectares of parkland in the heart of west London, with open lawns, formal gardens and tranquil lakes. Plus it has two playgrounds, including a charming heritage themed one for under 5s, complete with carriage slide.
Opening hours: Daily 07:00 – dusk
Café: Pop up vendors, takeway only. The Coffee Shot is open Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays 08:00-mid afternoon, and Sundays 10:00(ish)-mid afternoon. For something stronger (no judgement here), visit Quirky Group Airstream Bar Mondays to Fridays 12:00 to sunset, and Saturdays and Sundays 10:00 to sunset
Toilets: Open, in block near the museum
Horniman Museum and Gardens 16 acres of gardens offer stunning views across London and the popular hands-on Sound Garden.
Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays 07:15-16:20, Sundays 08:00-16:20
Café and kiosks: 09:00-16:00 daily, takeaway only
Market: Horniman Market, Sundays 10:00-15:00, fresh produce and hot food to takeaway only
Orleans House Gallery will keep their small woodland open, but its their excellent Stables Cafe which won our hearts on our recent visit. Grab some of their takeaway goodies for the nearby gardens or riverside.
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 09:00-17:00
Café: Tuesdays to Sundays, 09:00-17:00
Pitzhanger kiosk café in the council run Walpole Park remains open. It’s run by the same people behind the fantastic Orleans House Café. Walpole Park is 28 acres, once the grounds of Pitzhanger Manor.
Walpole Park opening hours: 07:30-17:30
Take a trail the ancient Oxleas Woodlands surrounding Sevendroog Castle. The circular walk starts and finishes at the Castle, and you can download the trail leaflet here.
Opening hours: Thursdays to Sundays, 10:00-16:00
Café: Thursdays to Sundays, 10:00-16:00
The charming, compact five acre garden surrounding Strawberry Hill House has been restored, as much as possible, to its original 18th century naturalistic appearance. Entrance via Strawberry Hill House gate only.
Open: Mondays to Fridays, 10:00-16:00
Wetlands and more
WWT London reduced offer might be disappointing for those hankering for its animal feeding, adventure playground and wild walk trail, all now closed. But it remains a beautiful place to talk a relaxing walk through the scenic paths which meander among the lakes and gardens. Whilst the bird hides are closed, you can still see a huge variety of wildlife – Museum Boy was thrilled to watch a heron just yards away from our footpath. Wetlands Unravelled is a very small, but charming, contemporary art programme with three installations to find – our favourite was this golden mini-manor house by Jonathan Wright.
Opening hours: 09:30-16:30 (last entry 15:30)
Café: Closed, outdoor kiosks may still be open
Toilets: Most closed, one block open
Cost: £5 adults, £2.50 children (reduced)
More info: https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/london/bookings/
Walthamstow Wetlands is London’s largest urban wetland nature reserve. Its 10 large reservoirs deliver water to 3.5 million Thames Water customers and provide a special home to many important wildlife species. Climb the reservoirs for stunning views. Don’t come hungry – their cafe is selling out of food regularly.
Opening hours: 10:30-16:00 (last entry 15:30)
Parking: Closed (except for blue badge holders)
More info: https://walthamstowwetlands.com/
Hackney’s best kept secret, Woodberry Wetlands is 27 acres of wild wetland habitat with old oak trees, close to the densely populated Woodberry Down estate. Hedgerows and wildflowers line the banks of the reservoir, while newly-created reed bed extensions provide a wetland haven for waterfowl.
Opening hours: 09:00-16:00
More info: https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/woodberry-wetlands-nature-reserve
Right on the fringes of London, RSPB Rainham is a whopping 1,000 acres of ancient grazing marsh in the Thames Estuary. Their 3.8km ciruclar across paths and boardwalks takes you through reed beds, marshland and woodland. Keep an eye out for the Peregrine Falcons nesting in the pylons, and the numbered shooting butts from the First World War, when the site was a military rifle range. There’s also a shorter 2.4km riverside walk. See both trails here (note the woodland trail is closed).
Opening hours: Thursdays to Sundays, 09:30-16:30
Parking: Thursdays to Sundays, 09:30-16:30
Toilets: Thursdays to Sundays, 09:30-16:30
Cost: £6 adults, £3 child, FREE first child, under 5s, RSPB members and residents of Havering and Thurrock
More info: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/rainham-marshes/
RSPB have over 100 nature reserves across the UK – search here to find your nearest site
Castles and palaces
Take a stunning autumn walk through Hever Castle‘s 125 acres of award-winning gardens. Feel like you’re in Italy with a relax at The Loggia overlooking the 38-acre lake, before exploring the many cascades, grottoes and fountains. A stroll through the Tudor Garden, Blue Corner or Rhododendron Walk provide colour and interest throughout the year. Wander further afield and enjoy Sunday Walk and Church Gill Walk that follow the course of a stream through peaceful woodland or Anne Boleyn’s Walk, with its impressive collection of trees planted more than 100 years ago. You can download an educational maths, geography, Roman or nature trail here. From 21 November, take the new immersive Peter Pan Trail.
Opening hours: Until 20 November 2020: Wednesdays to Sundays 10:10-16:30 (last entry 15:00). 21 November-8 December 2020: Wednesdays to Sundays 10.30-20:30 (last entry 19:00)
Playgrounds: Tudor Towers and Acorn Dell, timed entry
Cost: Until 20 November: £10 adults, £6 children (5-17 years), FREE under 5s. 21 November onwards: £16 adult, £10 child, under 5s FREE, £42.75 family (2A+2C/1A+3C)
More info: https://www.hevercastle.co.uk/news/hever-castle-estate-open/
Leeds Castle in Kent has 500 acres of glorious grounds and gardens, with meandering streams through the Woodland Garden, and The Lady Baillie Garden overlooking the lake. Take a safe one-way route through their maze of 2,400 yew trees. Return to civilisation through an underworld grotto, with macabre forms and mythical beasts created from shells, minerals and wood.
Opening hours: 10.00-17:00
Café: Yes (The Maze Café, Stable Cafe Kiosks and Whistle Stop Café)
Playgrounds: 10.00-16:00, Knights Stronghold and Squires Courtyard
Cost: £27 adults, £18.50 child (4-15), £80 family (1A+5C / 2A+4C). Tickets valid for free repeat visits for 15 months.
More info: https://www.leeds-castle.com/
Hampton Court Palace world-famous gardens include 60 acres of spectacular formal gardens and 750 acres of parkland, all set within a loop of the River Thames. Autumn sees spectacular colours in the Tiltyard, Wilderness and 20th Century Garden as deers rut in Home Park. The maze is closed.
Opening hours: Saturdays and Sundays 10:00-16:30 (last entry 15:30).
Café: Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00-16:00
Playgrounds: The Magic Garden is open, weather permitting. Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00-15:45 (last entry 15:00)
Cost: £8 adults, £6 children
More info: https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/#gs.ku8rp9
Aldenham Country Park is the home of 100 Aker Woods, and of course, Winnie the Pooh and his friends. Play ‘Pooh Sticks’ at Pooh Bridge, get inside Eeyore’s Gloomy Place, post a letter and even make it all the way to the North Pole!
Opening hours: Unclear
Pre-booking: Not required
Parking: 08:30-21:00 (last entry 17:30 weekdays, 18:00 weekends). £4.50 per vehicle
Café: Clockhouse Kiosk 10:00-dusk daily. Rhustic Rhubarb Tuesdays to Sundays 10:00-16:00.
Adventure playground: Saturdays and Sundays. 09:00-11:00 for children with SEND (special and educational needs). Additional slots 11:30-13:30 and 14:00-16:00. No pre-booking available, numbers limited
Cost: 100 Aker trail FREE, parking charges apply. Playground £3 per child aged 2+
More info: https://www.aldenhamcountrypark.co.uk/welcome/100-aker-wood
I have removed the natural play Stick Man trail at Weald Country Park from this list, as the play structures which make up the trail are currently fenced off.
Search for hand-carved characters from Julia Donaldson’s famous book on the Gruffalo Trail at Thorndon Country Park. The trail is short enough for even the littlest legs. It’s part of 550 acres of colourful woodlands and open parkland. Note the Countryside Centre, where you usually purchase a paper trail, is closed.
Opening hours: 8am-dusk
Parking: Paid (£2.20-£5.50)
Cost: FREE, parking charges apply
More info: https://www.explore-essex.com/places-to-go/find-whats-near-me/thorndon-country-park
On the Narnia Trail at Banstead Woods and Chipstead Downs Nature Reserve you can meet Aslan the lion, spot Lucy Pevensey waiting by the lamp post, and walk through the wardrobe entrance to Narnia, complete with hanging coats.
Opening hours: Unclear
Parking: Yes, Holly Lane Car Park
More info: Download the Narnia trail map here
The Pirate Pun trail in Rainham a delightful surprise with light hearted Horrible History-style ‘stupid death’ gravestones to find, as well as pirate way markers, a tattered Jolly Roger and pirate characters. You’ll also see the rusting WW2 barge graveyard, thought to have been used as support vessels during the D-Day landings. It’s a scruffy part of town but great river views and a fun, FREE short walk. Click here for the location.
Opening hours: All hours
Parking: 07:00-19:00, FREE
More information: Read our Instagram post here
If it is safe for you to visit, here are some of London’s outdoor artworks for you to pimp your local walks. All are FREE, open all hours and don’t need pre-booking. Bear in mind that toilets or café facilities nearby may not be open.
The Line is London’s first dedicated public art walk, running between Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The O2, following the waterways and the line of the Greenwich Meridian. Artists include Antony Gormley, Thomas J Price, Joanna Rajkowska and Richard Wilson, and there’s a downloadable Walk the Line family pack. Find more information here: https://the-line.org/
London Mural Festival added 40 new art murals to London’s streets, from Walthamstow to Wembley. Over 150 street artists took part, including Camille Walala, Eine, Marija Tiurina, Adele Renault, Mad C, and many more. Try this searchable map by Culture Trip to see if there’s any near you, or find more information here: https://www.londonmuralfestival.com/
Wood Street Walls have created over 40 murals in E17 and E11. Find downloadable maps and more information here: https://www.woodstreetwalls.co.uk/
Despite having visited Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park numerous times, I hadn’t noticed how much contemporary art was integrated into its landscape. This Art in the Park trail will help you find nearly 30 artworks.
Parks and forests
The Royal Parks are keeping open their 5,000 acres of historic parkland, including London’s largest outdoor spaces: Hyde Park, The Green Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, St James’s Park, Bushy Park and The Regent’s Park. Kensington Gardens, with its ever popular Princess Diana Memorial Playground also remains open, alongside their other managed sites, Brompton Cemetery, Victoria Tower Gardens and Canning Green.
Open: Normal opening hours
Parking: Yes, see here
Café: Yes, see here
Toilets: Yes, charges apply. See here
Playgrounds: Yes, except Kingston Gate Playground in Richmond Park which is closed
More info: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/coronavirus-updates
City of London will continue to provide access to over 11,000 acres of diverse open space across London and beyond, including Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath and Golders Hill Park, Highgate Wood, Queen’s Park and West Ham Park. The children’s farm at Queen’s Park is closed.
Parking: Yes (Hampstead Heath and Golders Hill Park, Epping Forest – but verge parking restricted)
Café: Yes (Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath and Golders Hill Park, Highgate Wood, Queen’s Park)
Toilets: Yes (Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath and Golders Hill Park, Highgate Wood, Queen’s Park, West Ham Park)
Playgrounds: Yes (Hampstead Heath and Golders Hill Park, Highgate Wood, Queen’s Park, West Ham Park)
More info: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/covid-19-parks-and-green-spaces
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and its award winning 560 acres of parklands, waterways and playgrounds are free to visit every day. Relax in the beautiful parklands, discover hidden artworks dotted around the park or let the kids loose in the excellent playgrounds. There are 5 free trails to download here, from reliving the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic highlights to the kid-friendly An explorer’s guide to adventures in the park.
Café: CLOSED (Timber Lodge, Kiosks along the Tessa Jowell Boulevard, London Aquatics Centre, Lee Valley VeloPark and the West Ham United Coffee Co). Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00-16:00 (The Last Drop). Check this list for more places potentially open for takeaway.
Toilets: 11:00-18:00. At The Podium near the ArcelorMittal Orbit, and at the Timber Lodge
Playgrounds: A lot of Tumbling Bay is currently closed. The Waterworks Fountains in the south of the Park are switched off, outdoor gyms closed.
More info: https://www.queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk/
Lee Valley Regional Park stretches 26 miles along the River Lee from the River Thames in London to Ware in Hertfordshire. The 10,000 acre park outdoor spaces include River Lee Country Park and Gunpowder Park, nature reserves like Walthamstow and Tottenham Marshes, riverside trails, and plenty of walking, running and cycling routes. Pick one of their walking routes to get you started.
Cafés: Not mentioned
Toilets: At Gunpowder Park, Fishers Green and Broxbourne Old Mill and Meadows
Playgrounds: Not mentioned
Cost: FREE, parking charges may apply at River Lee Country Park
More info: https://www.visitleevalley.org.uk/en/content/cms/home/covid19-update/
Don’t forget to check your local council website for green spaces and playgrounds nearby
Find more outdoors
The Wildlife Trust care for over 2,300 nature reserves in the UK. Search to see which are open near you at https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/visit
Forestry England care for over 1,500 forests and have built over 1,800 miles of walking, running and cycling trails. Find one of their forests or woodlands near you at https://www.forestryengland.uk/search-forests
FAQs on lockdown exercise
Here are some of the questions my followers have been asking about the rules around spending times outdoors during lockdown 2.0.
Of course, the best place to keep up-to-date with the new national restrictions is the official gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november.
Who can I see outdoors?
You can visit an outdoor public place with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own (or with children under school age), with one person from another household.
You cannot visit if anyone in your household or support bubble has any of the three main coronavirus symptoms, or if you need to self-isolate.
Can I travel for exercise?
Where necessary, ‘short journeys’ are permitted to visit outdoor places to exercise or spend time in the open air. The length and distance of this journey hasn’t been defined in either the law or the government advice. Please use your judgement, walk or cycle wherever possible, avoid using public transport, and try to avoid journeys which require toilet and other stops.
And if you’re looking for at home activities, try these posts:
I do hope this post helps you enjoy your outdoor time this lockdown. If you’ve found it useful, please take a second to share it with your friends and followers. It’s a small thing but really helps me to grow my blog.
Where will you be exercising this lockdown? Comment below, or tag me @museummum on Instagram or @museum_mum on Twitter. I love seeing what you get up to. You can see pictures from our walks over on my Instagram Stories.
Disclosure: Just like a journalist, I have been gifted free entry to many of these museums for review purposes.
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