Wrap up warm and head outside.
There’s no reason to hibernate just because it’s winter, you know. Grab a backpack and head outside….
1. City of London Christmas Day Walk
Fleet Street is usually bustling with stressed lawyers and busy bankers, but on Christmas Day all that is replaced by a rare tranquility. In fact the only sound you’re likely to hear is the odd bell toll from St Clement Danes, giving you the chance to check out the beautiful buildings in the oldest part of London . Look out for the Old Bank of England (now a gastro pub) or the gardens and Inns in Middle Temple.
2. Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire
The woods around Styal are great for a winter ramble. The walking is easy, too (always good if you’re stuffed full of Sunday roast), as you follow the meandering banks of the River Bollin. Whichever route you take, you’ll eventually end up at Quarry Bank Mill , where you could grab a warm mug of coffee from the teashop. If you feel the need to explore more, why not take a tour of the Victorian mill?
3. Holkham Beach, Norfolk
There’s something strangely atmospheric about walking on a pristine beach in winter. At Holkham , you can saunter along the unblemished dunes with a refreshing breeze in your face and the sound of the crashing waves beside you. If you’re looking for something a bit more sheltered, just head inland where there’s a small pine forest – or towards the Holkham Nature Reserve, which is teaming with thousands of geese at this time of year.
4. Canal Walk, Hebden Bridge
You’re not going to strain yourself walking along the canal path at Hebden Bridge . Not only is the going very flat (and decidedly mud-free), but the way is dotted with pretty river-side pubs, where you can have a “pint pit-stop” or pub lunch and watch the narrow boats putter past.
5. Latrigg Fell, Cumbria
Pack an extra jumper and head up Latrigg, where your reward will be chocolate-box views across Derwentwater Lake and the Borrowdale Valley. Trust us, all that huffing and puffing will be worthwhile.
6. The Uffington White Horse, Oxfordshire
Next time we get one of those clear blue winter days, make a bee-line for Uffington’s iconic chalk White Horse. The carved hillside horse dates back to 600 BC and your not-too-strenuous climb to the top will be rewarded by sweeping views of the patchwork countryside below. Why not bring a kite with you? There’s generally a light breeze up here and the large open gives you plenty of room for flying.
7. River Cam, Cambridgeshire
This walk starts amid the autumnal leaves of the Backs – the fields that are literally at the “back” of Cambridge’s iconic colleges. This grandeur doesn’t last for long, though, and soon you reach Coe Fen and follow the River Cam through grassy meadows – dodging the odd cow or sheep along the way. It’s only two miles to the pretty village of Grantchester, where Rupert Brooke once wrote poetry at Orchard House. Helpfully, this has now been turned into the Orchard Tearooms, where you can warm yourself up with a homemade cream tea.
8. Sherwood Forest , Nottinghamshire
Follow in the footsteps of Robin Hood (minus the bow and arrow) and explore this ancient oak forest when frost dusts its branches on a crisp winter’s morning. The well-drained footpaths will lead you straight to the impressive Major Oak and Centre Tree, right in the heart of the forest. Don’t worry, they’ll also lead you out again…
9. Bodmin, Cornwall
Don’t forget your camera if you’re going to Bodmin in the winter. The early sunrise means you can get some fantastic photos from St Breward, with its stone circles and the tors of Roughtor silhouetted against a blood-red sky. With milder temperatures than the rest of England, there’s also an influx of birds – starlings, waders and thrushes heading here to take advantage of the extra warmth.
The spooky atmosphere that inspired Bram Stoker to set Dracula in Whitby is only heightened in winter, when the town is visited by a rolling fog and a chill wind, straight off the sea. Immense yourself in this gothic ambiance with a walk along the winding cobbled streets, or climb up the 199 steps to the medieval abbey ruins for views of crashing waves – and maybe the odd ghost or two…