Is it just me, or is there a hint of Spring in the air? The days are getting longer and – occasionally – a ray of sunshine will break through the ominous grey clouds. Plus, the pleasures of winter hibernating are starting to wear a bit thin; there is such a thing as too much Netflix.
We’re in the mood for long walks and meals eaten with a proper knife and fork, from a plate and not a bowl. What better way to spend a Sunday, then, than with a leisurely stroll – or energetic hike, depending on your disposition – finished with a hearty roast? We’ve rounded up the three best walk and Sunday lunch combinations in and around London, so you’ve got no excuse not to get out there this weekend. See you in the pub.
A stroll on Hampstead Heath, followed by roast pork at The Holly Bush
There’s nowhere better than a hike on Hampstead Heath for blowing away the proverbial cobwebs. At almost 800 acres in total, it’s a space that will take you more than a couple of hours to navigate completely. However, a route we suggest is starting at the Parliament Hill Lido, then following the paths on the right hand-side that will take you past the men’s swimming pond, the model boating pond, the wild bird pond, and finally the ladies’ pond (although you won’t be able to see this from the path). Then circle left and walk south through the middle of the Heath, ending up with an impressive view over London from Parliament Hill. You’ll then be more than ready for strolling into the centre of Hampstead to find The Holly Bush.
Tucked away in the heart of pretty Hampstead, The Holly Bush is a Grade II-listed 18th-century wood-panelled pub with a plentiful Sunday lunch menu. Settle in beside the roaring fire while you decide which kind of roast you’d like – is it the 180g sirloin of beef? Or the Hampshire pork loin? There’s also a tasty-sounding roast pumpkin and feta wellington, if you or your companion is of the veggie bent. And to wash it all down is their great selection of Fuller’s beers and guest ales, as well as an extensive choice of wines to really round off your Sunday.
A promenade through St James, followed by roast beef at The Clarence
There’s no better time to experience the glory of St James’ beautiful architecture and historic sweeping streets that on a comparatively quiet Sunday, when you can really indulge in being a flâneur. Our perfect route starts on Jermyn St, for a spot of relaxed weekend shopping at New & Lingwood (for their exquisite contemporary tailoring) before heading to Crockett & Jones to peruse their latest footwear offerings. After you’ve had your fill of shopping, take a sharp right down Duke of York Street, before cutting through Jermyn Square and walking up Pall Mall to St James’ Palace. There you can abandon the hordes of tourists, and lose yourself in the calm of St James’ Park. Do a loop, take in the pelicans in the lake and you’ll be just about ready for your Sunday roast.
Based on Whitehall, just opposite the Horse Guards and down the street from No. 10, The Clarence is a true British institution. Winston Churchill was a regular – their Bull Dog Bar was named after his favourite breed – and it’s not hard to see why, with an impressive wine list that would Winnie himself proud. Make sure you book a table for your famished troops in their Tin Belly Dining Room upstairs, which serves the kind of menu that the neighbouring Blues and Royals would approve of: 28 day aged British sirloin beef, on the bone, served with beef dripping roast potatoes, a double egg Yorkshire pudding, seasonal greens, beef gravy and homemade horseradish sauce. Anyone hungry?
An amble from Hampton Court Palace to Richmond, followed by Welsh lamb at The White Swan
The Thames Path is an under-used gem for many Londoners. Stretching 184 miles from the Thames’ source in the Cotswolds to the sea, the path weaves its way right through the middle of London. On this occasion, however, we suggest setting out in the very west of the capital, where the city streets become countryside and the urban buzz gives way to a more ambient atmosphere. Hampton Court Palace is where you’ll start; the train station is handily just on the other side of the river to the point where you’ll join the Thames path. You’ll stroll through the lower reaches of the park, taking in the lush greenery on one side and the babbling river on the other. After clearing the palace grounds, you’ll follow the curve of the river as it ambles through Twickenham and past Eel Pie Island, the famous artist community. Then you’ll pass the beautiful Petersham Meadows, where cows graze all the way down to the edge of the water, before arriving in the pretty village of Richmond. Be warned though, this route isn’t short: at about 8 miles in length, it’s best for when you really want to stretch your legs.
Once there, head to The White Swan, tucked away on Old Palace Lane not far from the river path. Built in 1787, the snug pub has wooden beams, open fires and a secluded sun trap of a garden, just in case any rays decide to show. Their award-winning Sunday lunch menu has three courses, with a great selection of meats to choose from – the rosemary roasted leg of Welsh lamb particularly caught our eye, served with a Yorkshire pudding and cauliflower cheese. This, followed by one of their traditional pub desserts – sticky toffee pudding, banoffee pie and chocolate cake – would be the perfect way to make up for the morning’s hike.