Countryside, canals and Crossrail loom large in our nature-filled ramble through suburban south-west London to the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire borderlands, extending the search for new homes to hidden areas along the London Outer Orbital Path — the “Loop”.

Our journey starts at Kingston Bridge, which crosses the Thames and joins the town centre to Hampton Court with its famous palace.

Away from its busy commercial centre and well-known bypass, Kingston benefits from two of London’s greatest assets in the form of the river and Royal Parks.

The great green tract of Richmond Park is a 2,500-acre primeval English landscape with oaks and deer-dotted grassland, while splendid Bushy Park, the second largest Royal Park at 1,100 acres, offers fishing and boating ponds, allotments, wildlife areas and four cricket clubs.

Before becoming a London borough in 1964, the area formed part of Surrey. The county council still has its headquarters there and is the town’s largest employer.

The shape of the original medieval village can still be seen in the fine old market square and the warren of surrounding streets and passages. Yet here, too, are John Lewis and Bentalls department stores.

Buying a new flat or house in Kingston

Modern apartment blocks line a section of the prized waterfront.

Charter Quay is a popular scheme off the market square with a piazza, homes, shops and restaurants plus the Rose Theatre, modelled on the original Tudor playhouse discovered in Southwark.

Queenshurst is a recently completed scheme of 93 flats near all the retail action and train station.

Homes overlook a central garden square and there is a gym, concierge, cinema room and wifi lounge for residents. Resales through Rightmove.

Coming soon are 52 new homes by developer London Square in the leafy Crescent Road neighbourhood. Visit londonsquare.co.uk to register an interest.

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Four-and five-bedroom houses with golf course views at Coombe View in Kingston are priced from £1,825,000

Coombe Park is a private gated estate sandwiched between two golf courses. Celebrities and rock stars have lived here in quiet splendour for years, unbothered by neighbours.

Many of the houses sit in big plots but are outdated and ripe for redevelopment. Some have been turned into Footballers’ Wives-style mansions. Prices start at about £1.5 million but can reach more than £5 million.

Coombe View is a new scheme of Georgian-style four- and five-bedroom houses with golf course views. Prices from £1,825,000. Call Savills (020 8971 8111).

Past Bushy Park, the Loop marches through Hatton, home to London’s largest urban farm, then on to Hayes and Harlington. This slice of suburbia has been shaped by proximity to Heathrow and the wider commercial zone, but there is a surprising amount of greenery in the form of lakes, playing fields and woodland. Grand Union Canal also snakes through this section of the Loop, with opportunities for watersports.

Confectioner Nestlé’s historic 30-acre factory complex is being transformed into a 1,386-home canalside neighbourhood moments from a new Crossrail station due to open in 2022.

The factory’s impressive Art Deco façades and entrance are being retained, while original fixtures such as staircases, machinery and artefacts will be incorporated into the design of new “mid-century modern” apartment blocks.

During its Fifties heyday, more than 2,000 people worked at the factory. The site’s former Sandow Cocoa Works, which was the first place outside Switzerland to manufacture Nestlé’s famous Milky Bar, is earmarked to become a community centre.

Amenities will include seven acres of green public space, a canoe club, gym, a mile-long trim trail and outdoor exercise areas, and the canal towpath is being upgraded.

Renamed Hayes Village, flats cost from £346,000. Call Barratt on 0330 057 6666.

Record company EMI’s former HQ in Hayes is also being redeveloped, into an 18-acre micro district. Called The Old Vinyl Factory, it has 630 homes alongside restored Art Deco buildings set to become boutiques, work studios, bars and cafés, a cinema and museum.

Bluenote Apartments is being built right next door, with 111 homes and communal roof terraces. A show home opens later this month.

Prices from £340,000. Call Bellway on 020 8131 4763.

New apartments for sale in Uxbridge

Waterside walking enthusiasts can continue along the canal path to Uxbridge, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s parliamentary constituency.

The area boasts two modern architectural masterpieces — brutalist Brunel University campus, which is a popular film and TV location, and Stockley Park, a listed business estate in 150 rolling acres.

Conversion of a listed post office in the town centre is delivering new homes. Handsome Windsor House dates back to the early 20th century and comprises 33 apartments with curved bay windows and high ceilings. Prices from £259,995. Call Howarth Homes on 01895 454888.

Uxbridge’s former RAF base has become a new 1,340-home neighbourhood called St Andrew’s Park. The parkland setting includes Hillingdon House, a Victorian mansion and Battle of Britain bunker, now a museum.

Developer Vinci St Modwen has unveiled The Dice, a good-looking scheme of 107 apartments with big balconies that overlook 37-acre Dowding Park. Prices from £346,950. Call 03300 586204.

The Loop continues along the canal to Harefield, famous for its pioneering heart hospital. This is as far west as you can travel without leaving London.

Listed Harefield Place manor house dates back to Tudor times. During the Thirties, the eight-and-a-half-acre estate became a maternity hospital, and later a corporate headquarters. It has now been painstakingly restored and converted into 25 luxury homes.

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Luxurious apartments at Harefield Place, a converted former manor house and hospital in Ickenham

The gated estate has a driveway, sweeping lawns and a wellness centre with spa, gym, pool and tennis court. Nearby Ickenham Tube station is on the Piccadilly line. Prices from £995,000 to £1,695,000. Call Beauchamp Estate on 020 7499 7722.

On to delightful Moor Park, and a chance to escape into genuine countryside and enchanting woodland. This commuter suburb east of Rickmansworth was created by the Metropolitan Railway Company in the interwar period and takes its name from a magnificent 18th-century Palladian mansion, now a clubhouse for a prestige golf course.

Gin’n’jag mansions as well as Thirties semis set in wide avenues are the homes of note in this leafy but well-connected backwater.

Smart flats in South Oxhey and Borehamwood

Carpenders Park on the Euston to Watford arm of the Overground has long been a Cinderella suburb but is now being lifted from relative obscurity by regeneration, bringing more than 600 new homes, new parks and a revamped station precinct with new shops and restaurants.

Developer Countryside’s South Oxhey Central is just a two-minute walk from the station. The commute to Euston takes 32 minutes. Prices start at £275,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. Help to Buy is available. Call 020 3909 9335.

Twentysomethings James and Taylor Loveridge decided to buy their first home together here.

They paid £280,000 for a one-bedroom flat, using Help to Buy. Both work in retail and were living with family in north London.

“We wanted to be closer to nature and here we’re surrounded by it, yet the commute to central London is really quick,” says James, a Marks & Spencer store manager.

Enough green belt wraps around this Hertfordshire commuter town to allow ponds, farms, wildlife reserves and country parks to flourish alongside private schools, equestrian centres, golf and tennis clubs.

Elstree & Borehamwood railway station, also in Herts, is 20 minutes out of St Pancras on the Thameslink service. The expanding Elstree Studios complex ensures a busy and varied flow of travellers and “reverse” commuters. BBC’s EastEnders is made there.

In its Fifties and Sixties heyday, Elstree Studios was the English version of Hollywood and the area still attracts celebrity home buyers. Simon Cowell grew up there — his father was an Elstree estate agent who sold homes to screen legends. But not all homes are big budget.

Fairwood Place in Borehamwood town centre has 78 smart apartments. Two-bedroom flats, some with garden terraces and double-aspect balconies, cost from £465,000. Call 020 8108 1030.

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