London has come a long way since it earned the nickname “The Big Smoke” in the late 19th Century. While it still may not conjure thoughts of nature and open spaces, London is actually one of the greenest major cities in the world. Away from the skyscrapers that dominate the city’s skyline, approximately 47% of London is made up of green or blue spaces, meaning either park or water – you just have to know where to find them. The suburbs of London, in particular, can be delightfully green. Here are some London suburbs most well-known for their rural charm.
Putney – SW15
We begin in our local area. Putney is one of three suburbs on this list that has its own heath. Putney heath spans 400-acres and is covered in woodland and dotted with lakes. King Charles II is said to have used the heath for horse riding in the 17th Century.
In amongst the heath itself lies Putney village, a small community filled with tree-lined streets and large houses. It’s surrounded by trees and fields, making it blissfully isolated from the outside world. Putney also has access to the River Thames, and the walking route along the banks quickly becomes rather rural and leafy.
Despite having such great access to nature, Putney’s high streets are bustling with life and rival other towns and smaller cities in the UK for choice. Putney is also a mere 30 minutes away from Central London thanks to its train, tube, and bus connections. You can read more about how well-connected Putney is here.
Richmond/East Sheen – SW14
Richmond is perhaps the pinnacle of London’s green and blue spaces, with Kew Gardens to the north, Richmond Park to the south, and the River Thames to the west. The area of Richmond has a history dating back 800 years, with many monarchs having residences here over the centuries. For instance, Queen Elizabeth I spent much of her time in Richmond hunting deer.
Thankfully, deer hunting is no longer permitted in Richmond Park, making it a natural haven for spotting genuine wildlife in our capital. It’s the closest thing to the countryside that London has to offer, and it doesn’t disappoint. You can easily extend a morning walk to an all-day outing by getting lost (in a good way!) in the fields.
The community of Richmond and East Sheen has made great use of the river, establishing transport links, bars, restaurants and leisure areas all along the tree-laden banks. Journeys to Central London take approximately 30 minutes by train, which is excellent given how far removed from the centre it is.
Barnes – SW13
Barnes is a small area of South West London that’s essentially a village within commuter distance. It’s a very friendly community with plenty of access to green space. For example, Barnes Common, one of the largest Commons in London at 120 acres, it a local nature reserve with woodlands, nature trails, and a football pitch. Additionally, just a short walk away is the WWT London Wetlands Centre, a sanctuary for wildlife of all shapes and sizes located on the banks of the Thames.
Don’t get the wrong impression that Barnes is lacking when it comes to modern amenities, however. While there are many independent local shops and eateries dotted around, you’ll also find a wide range of chain shops and restaurants along the high street. The local pubs are some of the most pleasant in all of London. There’s something for everyone.
Journeys to Central London take just over 20 minutes from Barnes station, allowing you to very quickly and easily jump from your rural retreat to the big city.
Twickenham – TW1
Most famous for being the home of English Rugby Union, Twickenham has a strong sporting heritage. Twickenham Stadium is the largest rugby union venue in the world, boasting a capacity of 82,000. Unsurprisingly, Twickenham has plenty of green spaces dotted around for locals to play sports year-round.
There’s a plethora of markets, bar and restaurant options in and around Twickenham, featuring cuisine from all over the world. The River Thames is also closeby, lined with trees and green spaces along its banks. The peculiarly-named Eel Pie Island is one of the few islands on the Thames in London and has a music venue which has seen the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who, and David Bowie perform.
Travelling to Central London is fairly straightforward, with the journey taking just over 30 minutes if you’re close to the station. Twickenham is also situated a short distance from other green spaces such as Kew Gardens and Richmond Park, meaning you’re spoilt for choice when you want to escape into nature.
Hampstead – NW3
Hampstead is an area of North London that’s perhaps most well known for its famous residents, from George Orwell and Robert Louis Stevenson to Ricky Gervais and Emma Thompson. It’s a beautiful area full of huge, Edwardian houses and tree-lined streets.
Hampstead’s biggest draw, however, has nothing to do with people at all – Hampstead Heath is an 800-acre, virtually untouched forest. A sprawling area of natural beauty, with lakes for swimming during the summer and dense forest walks if you’d prefer to stay dry. It has provided inspiration for the likes of Dickens and Keats, and continues to inspire.
Hampstead Village is a quaint yet modern community boasting high street stores, traditional pubs and excellent schools. Better yet, it’s very well connected to the rest of London, with journeys to the city centre taking just 20 minutes by tube.
Blackheath – SE3
The smallest location on this list, Blackheath is a village so idyllic that it’s hard to believe it’s in London. As its name suggests, there’s a heath next to which the village lies. It’s far smaller than Hampstead Heath, but it neighbours Greenwich Park so it’s hardly short of green space.
Despite its ‘olde-worlde’ atmosphere, the high street has plenty of contemporary shops, restaurants, and pubs, and you’ll often find children making full use of the open spaces. Dotted around the village, you’ll find historic churches and hints to the area’s Royal past – Blackheath was the place of residence for many Royal assistants and was even the rallying point for the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.
It’s very well connected, with bus and train connections to the centre in just 30 minutes. Plus, taking the short walk to Greenwich gives you access to the DLR and other travel connections.
If you’re thinking of moving to London’s suburbs in the South West, get in touch with us for more information. The South West of London has much to offer, and we’d be more than happy to help you with your property search.