Walking is great exercise, and for many of us living in the higher coronavirus tiers, a walk has become part of our daily routine, allowing us to get fresh air into our lungs—and burn off those extra calories from festive over-indulgences.
There are many benefits to walking; it can reduce stress, improve fitness levels and strengthen muscles. So, grab your hiking boots and read on to discover some of the best UK walks to kick-start the new year and make the most of all that the Great Outdoors has to offer.
For a spectacular view over the historical city of Bath that takes you past an Iron Age hill fort, the Bath Skyline also boasts follies and woodlands on its six-mile route.
The Bath Skyline walk has been devised by the National Trust, and the paths are all signposted and well-maintained. The walk begins on Bathwick Hill before passing through Smallcombe Wood, which is renowned by twitchers who often spot wrens, nuthatches and blackcaps in the trees.
For those of us who may have had an extra mince pie (or two) over the festive season, the Bath Skyline walk reportedly burns as much energy as playing football for 90 minutes!
For a walk that promises adventure—and a little bit of spookiness—take a trip to Kelmarsh Tunnel, an abandoned railway tunnel that forms part of a woodland trail to the east of the Northamptonshire village.
This historic tunnel dates back to 1859 and formed part of the Northampton to Market Harborough railway line. The tunnel is just under 300m long, with austere looking metal gates at the entrance— and there is no lighting in the tunnel—so most of the route is in darkness. A ventilation shaft halfway along casts an eerie glow into the midsection of the tunnel, where walkers might also glimpse the Triphosa Dubitata moth that resides in the tunnels throughout the winter months.
Robin Hood’s Bay
North Yorkshire is home to Robin Hood’s Bay—a town said to be entirely populated by smuggler’s in 1800. Nowadays the picturesque cottages line the narrow gully to the sea, whilst the village’s smuggling heritage is still evident, with boats drawn onto the sharp rocks at Landing Scar.
The three-mile walk takes a circular route from the Moors, heading South from the car park in the hills above the village. We recommend parking here, as visitor’s cars are not permitted in the village.
For rest and refreshment along the route, The Galley On The Bay offers a selection of hot drinks, paninis and seafood platters, which you can enjoy whilst overlooking the stunning sea view.
The Beatrix Potter Walk
This challenging 13-mile hike is set against the stunning backdrop of the western shore of Windermere in the Lake District.
Beatrix Potter fans will delight in the route, which takes you past Hill Top, the author’s home in Near Sawrey, and the fells of Claife Heights. Meander through the pretty woods at Cockshott Point, which Ms Potter gave to the National Trust and enjoy the sights that inspired many of her beloved children’s books.
If a 13-mile walk sounds daunting, you can shorten the walk by hopping on the ferry bus for part of the route.
Nestled in the Dorset countryside, Corfe Castle forms part of the South West Coastal Path, offering a 5.9-mile walk, which is almost all downhill.
The castle, now in ruins, has played host to royalty since it’s reputed Roman origins, with a chapel added by King John, whilst his son Henry III ordered the building of a gatehouse and towers.
Archaeologists believe that settlers first inhabited the land over 6000 years ago, as they have discovered flint tools from the Mesolithic period along the South West Coastal Path close to Corfe Castle.
The route ends on the clifftops of Kimmeridge Bay, which contain geological treasures including ammonites and fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
Porthdinllaen Walk, Llŷn Peninsula
This Welsh winter walk provides two-and-a-half miles of fresh air which is guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs.
The circular route takes you past the lifeboat station and along a footpath leading across the rocks. Keep an eye out for the grey seals which fish along the coastline. In the summer months, this walk is incredibly popular and can get remarkably busy, so we suggest wrapping up warm and making the most of a quieter walk during January.
Car parking and toilet facilities are available at the start of the trail in nearby Morfa Nefyn.
The South Loch Ness Trail
For a winter walk that offers the opportunity to spot the famous ‘Nessie’, the South Loch Ness Trail runs for 28 miles along the banks of the Loch.
The route was completed at a cost of £28k and also offers a cycle path that takes you through peat and heather-clad moors and forests—all with breath-taking views of the Loch.
Even if you’re not lucky enough to spot ‘Nessie’ you will certainly see the Fall Of Foyers, a natural waterfall set in a gorge, immortalised by Scotland’s National Poet, Rabbie Burns, in 1798.
The Bushy Park Tour, London
This 2-mile stroll includes The Palace Playground, with basket swings, slides and a timber climbing frame, which will encourage youngsters to join you on this refreshing walk. The park is suitable for children up to the age of 12, and there are wheelchair-accessible toilets plus a refreshment kiosk nearby, so you can warm up with a hot drink while the little ones have fun in the park.
There are also several monuments to spot along the trail, including Hampton Court Palace and the nearby Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. To fully immerse yourself in the scenery, download The Royal Parks podcast before you set off for an interactive experience.
Please check before you travel to any of our featured walks to ensure you are meeting any COVID restrictions that may be in place.