There’s nothing quite like bundling everybody up, embracing the elements and stepping out into the biting frost for a wholesome winter’s walk. So here are five of the Neptune team’s favourites from around Great Britain (best enjoyed on a Sunday afternoon, post-roast and with pudding waiting for when you return).
Castle Howard Parkland, York. 5 miles
In the rolling Yorkshire countryside, not far from the city of York, sits the majestic Castle Howard, a member of the Historic Houses Association. Its vast parkland and estate stretches way beyond the grand house and gardens, and this easy-to-moderate circular walk meanders through villages and forests of ancient oak trees and past the Great Lake before leading you up the impressive tree-lined Avenue to the famed Obelisk. Beautiful at any time of the year, it looks even prettier with a sprinkle of frost.
How to find it: this is a North York Moors walk and is available to download for free on NorthYorkMoors.org
Members of the HHA can enjoy one free visit to Castle Howard annually, as per the terms and conditions listed on the HHA website. They also receive a discount when joining the Castle Howard Friends membership scheme.
Chichester Marina to Dell Quay, Chichester, West Sussex. 7 miles
The 1960s Chichester marina is the starting point for this easy, flat, circular walk, though you’ll quickly head away from the sea and across open fields where the spires of Chichester Cathedral can be spotted in the misty distance. The picturesque, 16th-century Crown & Anchor pub at Dell Quay marks a welcome half-way point and an opportunity to warm up by the log fire, before the return route takes you back to the marina along a waterside path.
How to find it: Long Man’s Walks has a free-to-download map of the route that you’ll find here.
Wimbledon Common to Richmond Park, London. 6 miles
This easy, circular walk combines two famous landmarks: the former royal hunting grounds of Richmond Park (which include Henry’s Mound, where Henry VIII supposedly stood to see a rocket being fired from the Tower of London to mark the execution of Ann Boleyn) and the Iron Age site often misleadingly called Caesar’s Camp on Wimbledon Common. The open, deer-filled spaces of the parkland contrast starkly with the rambling, woody heath of the common, popular today with dog-walkers and horse-riders alike, but at one time, a favourite place for duelling.
How to find it: for a free-to-download map of this walk, click here.
Sefton Coastal Footpath, Southport, Merseyside. 11 miles
There are plenty of lovely coastal walks around the seaside town of Southport, but this one encompasses both coast and countryside as it veers onto the the Trans Pennine Trail at times. A real blow-the-cobwebs type of winter walk, this route takes you along the blustery coastal path, over sand dunes and through a National Nature Reserve, and on a clear day, offers spectacular views back to Liverpool and the Welsh mountains.
How to find it: for a free-to-download OS map, just click here.
Strangford Lough, County Down, Northern Ireland. 1.5–3 miles
Surrounding the narrow inlet of sea that is Strangford Lough (just south of Belfast) is the Ards peninsula. In winter, the mud flats that are exposed at low tide become a magnet for seabirds and wild fowl, making these two National Trust guided walks a favourite for nature lovers with binoculars in hand. Our Neptune Belfast team couldn’t pick between two trails so we’ve included them both. Each is on the shorter side – Nugent’s Wood walk is just 1.5 miles and Orlock Point is three – though go for the latter if you’re a history buff and like the notion of stumbling upon evidence of Vikings, smugglers and Second World War defences.
How to find it: simply head to the National Trust’s website and a step-by-step guide for each walk awaits – Orlock Point or Nugent’s Wood.