The seven wonders of winter
7. Snowbound London
Ten o'clock on a Monday morning in central London. No buses steam down Piccadilly, belching passengers at every stop. There are no crowds jostling for space on the pavements of Oxford Street and the doors of its department stores remain locked. The tubes stand empty in their tunnels, planes are grounded at Heathrow. The few people who've made it into work in the City turn back when they find their offices closed. This is not the scene from an apocalyptic Day of the Triffids-style film, but the reality of life in the capital on the rare occasion it lies under a thick blanket of snow. The streets empty and all activity migrates to the parks. On Hampstead Heath, a running club has given up shuffling through the snow and is rolling a giant snowball down to the banks of the pond. In Richmond Park, the resident deer paw at the frozen earth, looking for twigs and shrubs. Far to the east in Greenwich, a borough's worth of schoolchildren celebrate their unexpected day off by tobogganing down from the Royal Observatory, the distant skyscrapers of Canary Wharf barely visible through the grey murk. Back in the centre, snow falls steadily on a deserted London, bestowing on anyone who ventures onto its streets the unimaginable magic of having a city all to themselves.
Make it happen
For train services to London from all over the UK, see thetrainline.com; for bus services, see nationalexpress.com. Expensive parking, gridlocked traffic and the congestion make driving in London an activity only for the foolhardy.
In Greenwich, stay at Number 16, a small guesthouse close to the Thames (from £75; st-alfeges.co.uk); in Hampstead, try eclectic and cluttered Hampstead Village Guesthouse (from £80; hampsteadguest house.com); and in Richmond, the Richmond Gate Hotel, on the hill with views of the river below, is a good option (from £126; akkeronhotels.com).
Written by Mara Vorhees, Bradley Mayhe W, Amanda Canning and Rory Goulding.