London’s best ice rinks

As the festive season draws near, the hearty winter activity of outdoor ice skating returns, with ice rinks springing up faster that you can say ‘freeze’.

No fewer than eight rinks are open to the public this winter from the grand Natural History Museum (Cromwell Road SW7. Tel: 0870 060 1780. Tube: South Kensington), to the traditional Somerset House (Strand WC2. Tel: 0870 166 0423. Tube: Temple).

Ice skating is no new trend in London and can be dated as far back as the 12th century when skaters strapped cattle bones to their feet to glide across the frozen marshes at Moorfields. In 1985 Broadgate started a commercial trend with the first outdoor ice rink that’s still going (Broadgate Circle EC2. Tel: 020 7505 4068. Tube: Liverpool Street).

For a taster of the old days, the moat of the Tower Of London has been turned into a dizzying rink (Tel: 0870 602 1100. Tube: Tower Hill), while the more metropolitan skater can figure-eight amid the high-rise buildings at Canary Wharf and, if brave enough, sip on cocktails at the on-ice bar (Canada Square Park E14. Tel: 0870 534 4444. Tube: Canary Wharf).

Kew Gardens (Kew TW9. Tel: 0870 400 0797. Tube: Richmond) and Hampstead Heath from December 2 (Parliament Hill Fields NW5. Tel: 0870 060 1762. Tube: Tufnell Park) offer picturesque green surroundings, while at Greenwich you can play ‘crash into a tourist’ at the Old Royal Naval College (Upper Grand Terrace SE10. Tel: 0870 169 0101. DLR: Cutty Sark). With most rinks open well into January, there’s time to make the rounds.