5 lovely places to see a London autumn (without the crowds)

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

The leaves are turning and the shadows are growing longer. It won’t be long until the clocks go back either, which means one thing: the beautiful London autumn is upon us.

Here are 5 quiet places that will show you the best of what the capital has to offer this season.

Sydenham Hill Wood

Sydenham Hill Wood, Dulwich, south London
Image: A Peace of London

Sydenham Hill and Cox’s Walk in south London is the perfect place for long, ambling autumn walks.

Not only are there lots of paths and different routes to explore, there is also a disused railway tunnel — once part of the Nunhead to Crystal Palace railway and now a registered bat roost.

Sydenham Hill Wood, Dulwich, south London
Image: A Peace of London

Explore further and you’ll find the remains of a Victorian folly, which was once part of a hidden garden.

Address: Crescent Wood Road, Sydenham Hill, London, SE26 6LS

Nearest station: Sydenham Hill or Forest Hill

More information: Visit the London Wildlife Trust website here

Grand Union Canal, north-west London

The Grand Union Canal in Alperton, north west London
Image: A Peace of London

Follow the Grand Union Canal up towards Alperton and Sudbury and the Grand Union Canal gets really residential.

In autumn, it comes into its own and you can follow the canal up to Horsenden Hill, where you can get away from civilisation completely, accompanied by brilliant views over Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Nearest Tube: Alperton or Sudbury Town

More information: Visit the Canal & River Trust website

Horniman Museum Gardens

Horniman Museum Gardens, south London
Image: A Peace of London

The gardens of south London’s own natural history museum have some of the best views out to east London and a conservatory to rival the one at Syon Park.

From here you can see St Paul’s Cathedral, the walkie-talkie and the Shard beyond the bandstand and lovely gardens of the museum.

Horniman Museum Gardens, south London
Image: A Peace of London

Once you’re done with all the seeing of things, pop by the cafe for a hot chocolate or pay the famous walrus a visit in the museum itself — admission is free.

Address: 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ

Nearest station: Forest Hill

More information: Horniman Museum website

Waterlow Park

Waterlow Park, Hampstead, London
Image: A Peace of London

If Hampstead Heath seems a bit busy on a weekend, then head to Waterlow Park in Highgate instead.

The park’s great views over London are complemented by Lauderdale House — the 16th-century former home of the notorious Duke of Lauderdale. It’s thought that King Charles II stayed here with Nell Gwynn, his long-standing mistress.

Address: Highgate Hill, Highgate, London N6 5HD

Nearest Tube: Archway

More information: Read my review here or visit the Friends of Waterlow Park website

Severndroog Castle

Severndroog Castle, south London
Image: A Peace of London

Buried deep in the Oxleas Woods in Greenwich, on one of the highest points in London, is the capital’s least-known castle.

Built in the 18th century by the widow of Sir William James — and named after Survarnadurg, the pirates’ fortress that he destroyed in 1755 — the castle was saved from private developers in 2002.

It now offers a viewing platform to rival the Shard’s and a lovely tea room to shelter from the autumn winds…

Address: Castle Wood, Shooters Hill, London SE18 3RT.

Nearest station: Eltham

More information: Visit the Severndroog Castle website

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