How walking groups became London's hottest hang-out

Overground walking group (Katrina Mirpuri)
Overground walking group (Katrina Mirpuri)

“Meet at Victoria station at 7:55 am by the WHSmiths. Bring a packed lunch.” These were the simple instructions I’d received for the walking group I’d seen pop up all over my social media feeds. I had no idea what to expect.

A swarm of 20 - 30-somethings stood kitted out in trendy outdoor wear — it was a fashion show of Berghaus, Arc'teryx and Patagonia. Don’t get me started on the designer water bottles. “Are these my people?” I thought to myself.

For someone who has spent a lot of Saturday mornings in bed nursing a hangover, this was one of the far more wholesome ways I’d chosen to spend a weekend morning.

I’ve always loved a good walk, but now I’ve reached a point in my life where I can officially call it one of my hobbies. I started taking my walks more seriously during lockdown. I would embark on nine-hour-long walks across the city which helped me deal with the grief of losing one of my closest friends. Since then, I have continued to seek solace in the act of exploration by foot.


Like many others, I enjoy the small pleasure of seeing a big number pop up when I check my steps tracker at the end of an active day. “Guess how many steps I did?” I’ll ask, knowing full well no one cares. The benefits of walking aren’t a recent discovery. It’s true, you never feel worse after going for a walk and it’s a great way to get some vitamin D and exercise during these darker days. I knew I wanted to go on more walks, but I didn’t always want to do them alone. So, I made it my New Year’s resolution to join some walking groups.

It turns out, I was not alone. Interest in walking and hiking groups is currently at peak popularity, with the search for “local walking groups” up by 300 per cent and growing. So why is there suddenly such a demand?

On my most recent walk with the group Overground, I observed something interesting. It was the first time I’d seen such a large group of young people socialising en masse outside of a party environment. Almost 500 people turned up. It was chaos but in the best way possible. People turned up late, some got lost and others ditched it completely. Despite this, I was in awe of how many people were organised enough to show up in one place. I can barely organise my friend group of four to meet.

I found the size of the group overwhelming at first, but once we started marching in a long line, I settled in and found my tribe. Some arrived alone, others brought friends, but by the end we were one fleet. I caught many exchanging phone numbers and Instagram details.

“We started walking because it’s a welcoming, open group environment where we could get into nature, escape the city and meet lovely like-minded young people”, explained two friends from the group.

Walking group newbie Ella Sloper told me, “The group was a fun way to meet people, get outside and do something that isn’t revolved around alcohol”.

Despite meeting such a varied crowd on the walk — I felt a little like I was in a weird social experiment or even a cult at times — it seemed we were all drawn by the simple gratification of socialising outdoors. And it doesn’t cost a thing. I feel inspired to continue discovering new walking groups in this city. Who knows, I might even start my own.

London’s best walking groups


Best for: socialising

This walking group gained popularity by advertising their walks through TikTok. As a result, they’ve grown into a huge community, and around 500 joined their last walk. They organise scenic walks out of London, with details shared via their Instagram highlights. Walks with Overground often take half a day and are medium difficulty. All you have to do is pack a lunch and turn up. The group is still relatively new, so they are still finding their feet, but if you’re up for a solo adventure or day out with a friend, this group is heaps of fun.

The Lonely Girls Club

Best for: making female friends

If you’re bored of swiping on Bumble BFF, or tired of trying to get your flaky friends to commit to a plan, The London Lonely Girls Club has your back. They organise a regular walk in London which is designed for you to attend solo so you can make friends. They usually last around 1-2 hours and the pace is moderate, so there’s no need for walking shoes. Each walk is ticketed and can be booked by registering through their private Facebook community or email newsletter. Plus they’re doing a Galentine’s Day-themed walk


Best for: serious walkers

If you’re serious enough about walking to pay for a membership, then you’ll relish the perks that come with a Ramblers membership. You’ll get access to 50,000 walking groups along with information on trails and a subscription to their quarterly walking magazine. Each walk is guided by a walk leader, and you’ll find a mixture of groups to join along with detailed trails. Memberships start at £3.42 per month (or £41 per year).

The Girls That Walk

Best for: hot girl walks

Grab your Stanley Cup and put on some cute trainers because it’s time for a hot girl walk. This South West London group meets every Sunday at 12pm in Battersea Park for some light walking and socialising. The aim is to bring together women from all backgrounds and ages to bond and walk. This is a medium-sized group of around 20 people, but they get busier in the summer months.


Best for: dog owners and those who prefer smaller groups

If you find the idea of walking with a large group of strangers a bit daunting, Gather’s walking group is perfect. They organise leafy London park walks with groups of up to 20 people (usually 10 turn up) which usually last around two hours. The organiser shares a live location of the walk on a Whatsapp group in case latecomers want to join, and there’s often the chance to opt in for a group meal after walks, which is great if you want to extend the socialising. The walks are led by its founder, Helena Piper, furry friends are welcome.


Best for: trendy adventurers

This fashionable outdoor activity group arranges everything from walks to runs. They describe themselves as a “collective championing women in the outdoors”, and would suit those looking for a little more high-energy adventure than a standard walking group. The group is as cool as its well-curated Instagram page (they’ve even secured brand partnerships with outdoor and beauty brands such as 66 North and Herbar). If you’re looking for a place to break into your new Salomons, look no further.

London Colour Walk

Best for: quirky creatives and dopamine dressers

Do you have a pink outfit you haven’t worn since you dressed up as Barbie last Halloween? You can wear it on a Colour Walk. This group is comprised of nattily dressed creatives who love nothing more than walking around East London in colourful clothing. There are no rules — they believe the more colour the better. Walks take place on every third Thursday of each month unless specified on their social media pages. Expect a vibrant friendly bunch of around 30 walkers. The meeting point is Spitalfields Market.

Clean Up UK

Best for: the environmentally conscious

Want to help the planet? Then pick up some rubbish. This litter-picking walking group believes in making a positive action for social change. They have groups all around the capital, both big and small, and they aim to leave the ground a little less polluted than when they first set foot on it. This is a great way to give back and get your steps in. All age groups are welcome. For more information on how to join a group near you, register on their website.

Silent Disco Walking Tours

Best for: musical theatre fans and rowdy hen-dos

You may have seen this energetic bunch dancing their way through the streets of the capital. As the name suggests, they walk whilst enjoying jolly tunes via a silent disco format (be prepared for some funny looks). What’s not to love? They offer a West End Musical tour and a Drag Queen Disco Diva tour, both of which are led by a professional guide. The walks last around two hours, with the start and end point being The Marquis of Granby pub in Soho.