Five fabulous car-free Spring adventuresfrom London

Seafront galleries with light airy rooms, landscaped parks and baroque palaces, valleys of daffodils and fairy tale turrets, camellia-hung woodland walkways leading to hilltop gardens, boat trips to riverside pubs and museums of maritime history... here are just a few of the car-free adventures within relatively easy reach of London. Take the train to Eastbourne and walk along the sand or the bus from Chelmsford to Hyde Hall gardens and stroll through the blossoming trees.

  1. 3. Waddesdon Manor

    March is a special treat at Waddesdon manor near Aylesbury as the daffodils fill the valleys and the spring bulbs bloom in the formal gardens. This chateau-style manor house hung with 18th-century art now has a dedicated cycle route so you can arrive safely by bike. And two people can visit for the price of one if you travel by train and show your ticket with this voucher.

    • To get to Waddesdon, catch the train from London Marylebone to Aylesbury Parkway Vale. The new 2½ mile Waddesdon Greenway is a traffic-free route for walkers and cyclists from the station.
    • If you catch the train that leaves London Marylebone at 9.57am, you can connect with the luxurious free shuttle bus. On the way back, the shuttle bus to the station leaves from the Welcome Pavilion at 4.15pm (half an hour later at weekends). The shuttle runs from late March to October; at other times of year, you can still get there by bus from Aylesbury, Monday to Saturday.
    • Stroll towards the mansion’s entrance or take a turn through the rolling park, past the elegant rose garden and the exotically leafy aviary full of red-crested, yellow-green touracos and blue-crowned laughing thrushes.
    • For more adventures in the area, have a look at our feature on car-free Aylesbury.
  1. 4. RHS Hyde Hall

    Pink-blossomed cherry trees and white-flowered apples, tulips and irises, lacy Japanese snowballs and flamboyant magnolia… springtime at Hyde Hall garden in Essex is a beautiful sight. Wander through orange horned poppies in the stony dry garden and past the lily-decked lake. Getting to Hyde Hall without a car needs a little bit of planning, but it’s worth it. And you get a 30% discount when you show your train or bus ticket.

    • Get a train from London Liverpool Street to Chelmsford. They leave regularly and take just over half an hour. You want to arrive in time for a bus at 11am or 1pm (twenty minutes later on Saturdays, none on Sundays)
    • Look out for the number 3 bus at Stand 1 in the bus station and make sure you tell the driver you’re going to Hyde Hall (they might take a different route otherwise) and what time you’re planning to come back.
    • Stroll through the cottage garden, up through the new wildflower meadow and out past the beehives into a huge grassy field with wide views. Head back through the blossom-hung woodland walks to the upper pond and don’t miss the unusual dry garden, blazing with yellow-green spurges and red-hot pokers.
    • You can explore more of the area around Chelmsford with our car-free guide.
  1. 5. Greenwich and Docklands

    This trip is not even outside Greater London, but you can still feel like you’ve escaped for the day. You can ride the boat to Greenwich from central London or follow this sightseeing route. Head for Royal Victoria station, on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and catch the “air line” – cheaper and cooler than the London Eye and without the queues.

    • London’s cable car takes seven minutes to lift you high over the Thames to the Greenwich peninsula and the O2 arena. After 7pm every day, the cable car travels more slowly, giving you more time to enjoy the night-time views; in summer (and on Fridays and Saturdays all year) it runs until 11pm at night.
    • With an Oyster or contactless card, it costs just £3.50 for a single journey – or when you show a railway travel card at the ticket office. At 90 metres high, it has great views of the surrounding area and there’s a new on-board video the about the East London sights below you.
    • On the far side, follow signs to North Greenwich Pier where boats set off for Westminster via the green slopes and neoclassical elegance of Greenwich every twenty minutes. The sleek, speedy Thames Clippers are a great way to travel through London, with an on-board bar, comfortable seats and huge picture windows looking out onto the water.
    • It costs £4.10 to travel from the North Greenwich pier to Greenwich itself if you touch in and out with a contactless or Oyster card. If you have a travel card, show it at the ticket office to get 1/3 off the standard price, bringing it down to around £3.
    • Arriving in Greenwich, two people can visit the Cutty Sark for the price of one when you show a train ticket and voucher.
    • Climb up through Greenwich Park towards the observatory for classic London views and the chance to stand on the meridian line, from which all global measurements begin.
    • Coming back down towards the Maritime museum, don’t miss the newly refurbished Queen’s House next door. Completed by architect Inigo Jones in 1636, it was the first Italian-style building in England. It’s free and open 10-5 daily. Cutty Sark DLR station is not far away.
    • For more ideas in the area, see our car-free guide.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount

Visit car-free in 2019!