Our Favourite Winter Walks and Pubs with Open Fires

London at Christmas is blissfully quiet; make the most of the empty city by getting outdoors for a wintry walk followed by a Bloody Mary at the pub. These are our favourites:

Primrose Hill and The Queens 

There’s no beating the view from the top of Primrose Hill. Stomp off all those calories and then head to newly re-furbed The Queen’s for a mulled wine by the fire. Open every day 11am-11pm including Christmas day (noon-5pm only) and Boxing day (noon-11pm). thequeensprimrosehill.co.uk

Coal Drops Yard to Little Venice and the Warwick Castle 

If you’re feeling really sprightly, you could start the day with breakfast at the new Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross and then follow the Regent’s Canal towpath all the way up past Camden Lock, past London Zoo and along the top of Regent’s Park and down to Little Venice. The Warwick Castle with its large working fireplace is the place to recover. warwickcastlemaidavale.com

Ravenscourt Park and the Angelsea Arms

Ravenscourt Park is perfect for those with children, with four different adventure play areas that vary by age group. There’s also a small lake for feeding the ducks. The nearby Angelsea Arms is cosy and welcoming with a roaring fire. As well as their usual opening hours they’ll be open for lunch too from 10-31 December. Booking ahead advised. angleseaarmspub.co.uk

Kensington Gardens and the Churchill Arms 

Peek through the gates of Kensington Palace, do a lap of the Round Pond and end up at the Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street. No fire, but this is the pub that goes all-out with its flowers in the summer and turns to Christmas trees in December – nearly one hundred of them! The renowned Thai food will make a welcome change after all that turkey. churchillarmskensington.co.uk

Hampstead Heath and The Holly Bush

A Dickensian pub in one of the prettiest parts of London. Get lost on Hampstead Heath and then find your way back to the Holly Bush. If you’d like to eat (upmarket gastro food with a festive menu in December) then book ahead. hollybushhampstead.co.uk

Wimbledon Common and The Crooked Billet

Almost like being in the countryside, take the dogs for a long walk on Wimbledon Common and then retreat into the cosy Crooked Billet which is more than dog-friendly, providing special doggie treats for wagging tails. thecrookedbilletwimbledon.com

The Thames and The Dove

Head to the river and blow away the cobwebs with a long walk by the water. Start at Hammersmith and follow the river all the way to Barnes Bridge on the south side, cross over next to the railway line, returning on the north side to the Dove. The loop takes just over an hour and your reward is one of the river’s cosiest pubs with an open fire.

St James’ Park and The Grenadier 

Start in St James’ Park at the Mall entrance, do a lap of the lake crossing at the bridge in the middle with its iconic views – one way towards Westminster and the London Eye and the other towards Buckingham Palace. Then move up to Green Park – and if you’ve still got the energy, Hyde Park too. The Grenadier, hidden up a cobbled street is a former officers’ mess that’s now a London institution. No fire, but very good food and a cosy atmosphere to make up for it. grenadierbelgravia.com

Victoria Park and the People’s Park Tavern 

East London’s largest park is surrounded by great pubs. The People’s Park Tavern spills out practically into the park itself in summer, but in winter nab a chesterfield and settle in by the open fire. Order a People’s Pint, made at the on-site brewery. If you have dogs, another good option in the area – especially for food – is Hector and Noble.

— Daisy Allsup
12th December 2018