There’s plenty to be excited about at Christmas time, but sometimes we all need a break from the hustle and bustle to relax and unwind. It’s the perfect time to wrap up warm, throw on some wellies and get out on an invigorating winter walk.
Blow away the December cobwebs while rambling along blustery coastal paths, or take a refreshing Boxing Day stroll through frosty countryside. From guided walks with National Trust rangers to self-led winter wildlife trails, there’s something to suit all tastes.
This six mile route boasts magnificent views over the picturesque city of Bath, which looks even more spectacular on a frosty winter’s morning. Wander through history from an Iron Age hill fort to 18th-century follies and stroll through hidden valleys, woodlands and meadows, all rich in wildlife. Taking to the Skyline walk burns as much energy as playing 90 minutes of football, so it’s the perfect way to burn off some of those Christmas calories.
At just over one mile long, this atmospheric walk takes you through woods that are home to an Isle of Wight special attraction: the red squirrel. Winter is a great time to spot them as they come down from the tree canopy to forage for food.
After the busy rush of Christmas, Stowe is the perfect place for a quiet stroll between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. With the trees bare of leaves, it’s easy to take in the sweep of the valleys and the structure of the temples and monuments nestled in the winter landscape. With secluded pathways leading to hidden waterfalls, and sweeping vistas drawing you onwards, you can easily pass an hour or two losing yourself in the estate.
The New Forest heathlands are just as beautiful in winter as they are in summer. Try this four mile walk on a crisp morning to see beautiful areas of wilderness and wood, frost-covered spider webs and hardy New Forest ponies. Home to the rare Dartford warbler, you might also spot over-wintering birds of prey such as hen harriers, peregrines and merlins.
The south pleasure grounds perhaps have the most to offer for a great winter walk at Ickworth. Explore a mixture of open parkland and woodland glades, and take in the church, Walled Garden and obelisk monument. This is the perfect route for a traditional Boxing Day or New Year’s walk, and many visitors turn up in their Christmas jumpers. After your walk you can treat yourself to a warming drink in the restaurant.
Christmas is a great time for a family walk, and this easy route to Wimpole Folly will suit legs both little and large. The gardens and farm will be festively decorated, with bells, baubles and wooden reindeer all adding to the Christmassy feel.
Nothing beats a crisp winter walk when you’re wrapped up warm against the chilly air and the leaves are crunching under your feet. The lake walk at Blickling is particularly atmospheric on a frosty winter’s morning, with woodlands and open fields to explore, not to mention breathtaking views over the estate. Afterwards you can head to the Muddy Boots café for a warming drink and a slice of cake.
This six-mile route will lead you through woods and open fields to explore some of the quieter parts of the Clumber Park estate. You'll discover plenty of natural habitats along the way, which provide a haven for many species of wildlife including migratory birds. With stunning views from across the Serpentine Lake and over the Ornamental Bridge, this walk offers a great opportunity to capture that perfect wintery photo of the Clumber Park landscape. The Garden Tea House will be open from Boxing Day to New Year’s Day, so afterwards you can warm up with a traditional roast or delicious cream tea.
If you need to walk off a few mince pies, then a crisp wintery stroll around the Quarry Bank estate is a great place to start. The Southern Woods trail follows the River Bollin as it twists and turns its way to the mill house, where the giant waterwheel used to power the machines before it was replaced by steam-power. Even in the depths of winter the woodlands are not short of life. Keep an eye out for festive holly and ivy, along with herons and dippers. You’re sure to catch sight of Robin Red Breast too.
This walk is dominated by two spectacular views: the famous vista of the Buttermere fells seen over Crummock Water, and the dramatic rocky buttress of Grasmoor End looming over the northern end of the lake. Thanks to the support of their members, donors and volunteers, the National Trust team has recently installed a bench with a panorama naming all the summits in view, giving you the perfect opportunity to stop and enjoy the view during your crisp winter walk.