The UK’s best winter walks | Daily News Byte

The UK’s best winter walks

 | Daily News Byte


Tisbury Circular, Via Hindon and Fonthill Estate – Wiltshire

Snow-covered field, woodland and distant hills on the Fonthill Estate in Wiltshire
The route crosses the open fields and woodland of Wiltshire’s 9,000-acre Fonthill Estate © Andrew Washington

This 13.6-mile circular walk winds around the 9,000-acre Fonthill Estate – and some of Wiltshire’s best countryside. Turning west from Tisbury through the open fields and woodland of the Fonthills, the route then heads north along the Wessex Ridgeway towards the village of Hindon, which marks the halfway point. As with any good winter walk, the pubs are the main attraction, particularly The Lamb at Hindon and, at a later stage, the Beckford Arms (which has wonderful rooms for overnight stays). On the final leg of the walk, you’ll pass Fonthill’s tranquil lake and the country’s largest moated barn, now home to the popular Messams Wiltshire Gallery. A direct train takes you from Waterloo to Tisbury in one hour and 45 minutes, so it’s very doable as a day trip for Londoners.

Crester to Low Newton Coastal Walk – Northumberland

The ruins of 14th-century Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance, with the sea and rocky beach in the foreground
Crester to Low Newton Walk skirts around the ruins of 14th-century Dunstanburgh Castle © National Trust Images/David Sellman

About 40 miles north of Newcastle, the fishing village of Craster is the starting point for an eight-mile scenic yet scenic circular walk along Northumberland’s rural coastline. It begins in coastal meadows – keep an eye out for eider ducks on your approach above the rocky headland, the ruins of 14th-century Dunstanburgh Castle. From here, the smooth sands of Embleton Bay open up, and the Ship Inn waits for a lunchtime tipple at Newton-by-the-Sea before returning on a different path slightly inland. Dog-friendly with largely flat terrain, this is a great trail for families.

Kettlewell to Grassington – North Yorkshire

The limestones of Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales

The limestone cliffs of Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales are about nine miles from the market town of Grassington ©

The Yorkshire Dales market town of Grassington is a real gem, with cobbled squares, pubs and tea houses – and wonderful walks to choose from. Take advantage of the public bus service to simplify logistics: park in Grassington and catch the 72 bus north to Kettlewell before starting the spectacular seven-mile return walk.

Aerial view of the Yorkshire village of Kettlewell surrounded by green fields
The route starts in the village of Kettlewell © Christopher Verrett

Heading south on the Dales Way, the route takes in Wharfedale – one of Yorkshire’s prettiest valleys – and the River Wharf. Expect breathtaking views across meadows and pristine pastures. You can extend the route to 10 miles by staying on the bus with one additional stop to Buckden.

Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia National Park – Wales

Lean (lake) Idwal water, backed by rocky cliffs
A three-mile circular walk takes in Llyn (Lake) Idwal © Dylan Jones

Located in the mountainous north-west of Wales, not far from Bangor, Cwm Idvaal is one of the awe-inspiring geological features of Snowdonia National Park. It has long attracted curious visitors, including Charles Darwin, who in 1831 noticed that large boulders scattered in the valley contained sea shells.

Road to moorland on CWM Idwal, with a rocky hill behind
The geological features of Cwm Idval were discovered by Charles Darwin © Dylan Jones

This family-friendly, three-mile circular walk takes you around Llyn (Lake) Idwall and back again, offering a real taste of exploring the park’s highest and wildest peaks without the need for experience or knowledge. That said, Devil’s Kitchen is a natural extension that leads down this path for those seeking a challenge.

Worth Metravers, Jurassic Coast – Dorset

A sign pointing to Seacombe fields and the sea in Dorset
Overlooking Seacombe on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast © Visit Dorset

This part of Dorset has a bounty of impressive walks – including Corfe Castle, Old Harry Rocks and Studland – and Worth Metravers is the perfect start and end point for walks along the Jurassic Coast, largely because of its cozy pub The Square and Compass, complete with flagstones and With a wood burner (and plenty of car parking). This short three-mile circular loop sees walkers descend through rolling farmland before meeting up with the coastal path, where you’ll pass the abandoned mines of Seacombe and Winspit, before returning to the track to close the loop. The walk is easily extended if you want to see more of the stunning Purbeck coastline.

Polzeth to Port Isaac – Cornwall

A path leads down a hill to a choppy sea at Port Queen on the Cornish coast.  On the other side are green hills and fields

Port Quinn, an inlet on the Polzeth to Port Isaac coastal walk © Emma Eccles

A walk to the headlands and Smugglers’ Cove. Park on the beach at Polzeth and walk the best stretch of the South-West Coast Path, hugging the coast through exposed headlands and ducking into sheltered coves for around 10 miles. After rounding Pentaire Point, the road heads north-east – and before reaching the small village of Port Quinn, you’ll be met by the delightful miniature castle (or folly) of 19th-century Doyden Castle, designed by Samuel Simmons. Friends and indulge in drinking and gambling.

Rumps Headland on the North Cornish coast
Three miles from Polzeth lies Rumps Headland, the site of an Iron Age fort © Dave Zeppel

After arriving at Port Isaac, there are several options to refuel. If you’re feeling extravagant, consider Nathan Outlaw’s one-Michelin-starred Outlaw’s New Road restaurant. Be sure to keep an eye out for Cornwall’s national bird, the chow.

Gobro Fell and Era Force, Lake District – Cumbria

Lake Ullswater in winter, surrounded by hills
This 4.5-mile Goberro Fell and Era Force Trail leads to impressive views of Lake Ullswater © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

At 912 square miles, the Lake District is England’s largest national park and home to 214 waterfalls, including Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. In winter, many of the dramatic moves can be treacherous, but these are good and just as impressive year-round.

Snowy hills on Cumbria's Era Force and Goberro Fell Trail
In addition to exposed waterfalls, the Cumbrian Way passes through woodlands and waterfalls © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

With four-and-a-half miles and a respectable 366m of ascent, this family-friendly circular walk offers fantastic views of woodland, roaring falls, open falls and Ullswater from the rounded summit of Gobaro. British fell-walker Alfred Wainwright described it thus: “Flowers, heather and bilberry bloom on the pleasant little ridge where the summit cairn is.”

Climbing Jack Trail, Mortimer Forest – Shropshire

A beautiful view from a snowy hill on Shropshire's Climbing Jack Trail
It may be steep-ish, but the Climbing Jack Trail rewards with spectacular views © Forestry England

A truly beautiful and testing nine-mile circular woodland walk, which rewards (after 500m of ascent) with panoramic views across rural Shropshire, Herefordshire and the summits of High Vinals in Wales. Keep an eye out for goshawks and long-haired fallow deer, which are known to exist only in these forests. After the walk, visit the historic town of Ludlow, a few hundred meters from the starting point. Sir John Betjeman described it as “perhaps the prettiest town in England”, so stop by the 11th-century Ludlow Castle and the town’s plentiful eateries.

Dover to Deal: Three Castles Walk – Kent

A view from a cliff top above St Margaret's Bay in Kent
St Margaret’s Bay on the Kent coast was once a smuggling hotspot © Visit Kent: White Cliffs Country

One of England’s best and most unique coastal walks, this linear route runs north from Dover and ends in the charming town of Deal, about eight miles away. After leaving the busy ferry port, you’ll soon be walking to the top of Dover’s iconic White Cliffs. Pass the South Foreland Lighthouse to St Margaret’s Bay, once popular with smugglers (the tea room here is perfect for a hot cuppa).

Dover Castle, with trees in foreground
Dover Castle: one of three castles to headline the route © Visit Kent: White Cliffs Country

From here, the cliffs give way to quiet pebble beaches and Wolmer and Deal Castles, both built by Henry VIII around 1539 to defend against French invasion. Deal Pier marks the end of the walk, from where you can catch a train to London in less than 1.5 hours. Return to Dover if you parked at the ferry terminal.

Bremer, Cairngorms National Park – Scotland

A view down the Dee River in the Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park © View down the River Dee in the Fife Arms

Situated in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, the Royal Deeside village of Braemar (about eight miles from Balmoral) is the perfect base for countless outdoor activities – and countless stunning walks. This gentle four-mile route starts in the village, and climbs about 200 meters up a hill near Crag Choinnich – which has wonderful panoramic views of the Cairngorms – before descending through mature pine woods and returning along the River Dee.

17th century Braemar Castle, with wooded hills behind and a flowing river in the foreground
17th-century Bremer Castle was built as a hunting lodge © Sim Canety-Clarke

The route also passes close to Bremer Castle, built in 1628 by John Erskine, Earl of Mar as a hunting lodge.

Settle Loop, Pennine Bridleway – North Yorkshire

Pen-y-Ghent, Yorkshire The lowest of the Three Peaks, seen in the distance, under a violet sky, on a snowy day
The 10-mile Settle Loop Yorkshire overlooks the Three Peaks – Pen-y-Ghent, the lowest, pictured here © Jules Diamond

This 10-mile circular walk leads out of the historic market town of Settle to the limestone uplands above the town. There are wonderful views of Ribblesdale and the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and at the end of the loop, the glacial lake of Malham Tarn. Easily accessible by public transport – it’s an hour’s train ride from Leeds – and with plenty of stops to enjoy a well-earned meal, it ticks all the boxes for a winter walk.

Glenday, Mount Caburn and Lewes – South Downs National Park, East Sussex

Sun shining on snowy Mount Cabern on the South Downs in East Sussex
Mount Cabern on the Glynd to Lewis route in the South Downs in East Sussex © Gill Copeland

Glynde is an East Sussex Downland village, home to Glyndebourne Opera House – and the start and finish of this six and a half mile walk. The route quickly drops into the National Nature Reserve, with the Iron Age fort of Mount Caberne looming over the horizon to the south. Soak in the views of the Elizabethan manor house Glende Place as well as the South Downs National Park, the Ouse Valley and the panorama of Lewes. Just a mile to the south is the chocolate-box village of Firley, situated at the foot of Firley Beacon, one of the highest points in the South Downs National Park. Here, dine at The Ram Inn – a friendly country pub serving hearty British fare by the side of a warming fire.


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