The 10 best Winter walks
Walk off the Christmas turkey and get the kids away from the telly with a bracing ramble. Chosen by Andrew White of Walks Around Britain
Along the bed of a closed railway line, the mostly flat 8.5-mile Monsal Trail is a wheelchair- and pushchair- friendly ramble. The recently reopened railway tunnels along the way will delight little adventurers. They are lit from dawn to dusk. Car parking is available along the route.
A blustery beach walk is a great way to combat the post-Christmas Day comedown. The four-mile walk from Cromer along the sandy beach to Overstrand is a nice one for all the family. Check the tides to be safe.
One of the highest peaks in the Midlands is also one of the most rewarding to walk up if you’re looking for a bit of a longer ramble. Start from the village of Cluddley and there’s a bit of road walking before you get into the woods around The Wrekin. The summit is well sign-posted and there are various footpaths to choose from. Once at the top, there are great views across Staffordshire and the Black Country. Allow three to four hours to get up there.
This 4.5-mile jaunt going from the village of Grasmere to Rydal doubles up as a bit of a history lesson. Special subject: the Romantic poet and the Lake District’s most famous son, William Wordsworth. Start at Grasmere where you can see his grave, then walking through Town End, you go past Dove Cottage, where he lived with his sister Dorothy. Then head on to Rydal Mount, where Wordsworth lived. It’s a scenic and not too strenuous little walk.
If you’ve had a Christmas Day blowout, a stomp up the 207m headland of the Great Orme is just the ticket. Rising from the Victorian splendour of Llandudno, it’s the highest point on this part of the North Wales coast, and there are several great walks to the top. On a clear day you can see Snowdonia and Anglesey, the Isle of Man, Blackpool and the Lakes from the summit.
(Check the summit complex is open by calling 01492 860963).
With 630 miles to choose from, the South West Coast Path is considered one of the best long-distance coastal walks in the world. It’s geared up for serious walkers as well as being an ideal choice for a post-Christmas Day ramble. Running from Minehead in Somerset around the coast to Poole in Dorset, there are some beautiful and spectacular stretches. A particularly scenic stretch runs from the pretty harbour village of Boscastle to Tintagel, in Cornwall, which is nine miles one way. Make sure you have a car parked at the other end to avoid a Boxing Day epic.
Spanning 60 miles from the west to the east coast of Scotland, the Caledonian Canal, designed by 19thcentury engineer Thomas Telford, provides some fantastic familyfriendly walking along the towpaths. Passing through spectacular lochs, past viaducts and over bridges, there’s lots to see. The towpaths are mainly flat and are very well maintained, so are ideal for little and older legs. Depending on how much turkey you want to work off, some choice sections are: Corpach to Gairlochy (8 miles) starting at the Neptune’s Staircase lock; Fort Augustus to Kytra (2 miles); and Muirtown Basin to Clachnaharry Loop (2 miles) at the Inverness end of the canal.
Famous as the setting for A A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories, Ashdown Forest is a fantastic place for a family walk, especially if you take in the famous Poohsticks Bridge. A downloadable leaflet from the Ashdown Forest website describes two great short walks. Remember to collect some sticks as you go, ready to try your hand at Christoper Robin et al’s favourite pastime.
This 6.5-mile walk starting at the spectacular cliffs at Flamborough Head is a great coastal walk. Along the way keep an eye out for the huge variety of sea birds that make their home in the cliffs and explore the two lighthouses. Treat yourself to a warming drink, or something stiffer, when you make it to Bridlington.
Just because you’re in the capital for Christmas, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a scenic walk. The Thames Path runs for 180 miles from Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier and is ideal for a family outing. There’s lots to see that will keep little ones interested, particularly the 4.5-mile stretch from the Thames Barrier to Greenwich going past the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory. Or the London Eye to Putney (eight miles), past Battersea Power Station, is a good bet if you want to show visitors some of London’s most iconic landmarks.
For more information on these walks and others around the UK, see walksaroundbritain.co.uk
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