There’s nothing quite like a bracing winter walk through muddy country lanes or across windswept beaches and cliff tops to blow out the cobwebs. So, pack your wellies and make a weekend of it. Combine one of these winter walks with a 2-3 night self catering holiday in a nearby cottage. Here are 6 scenic walks and cycle paths to explore and 6 idyllic, warm and toasty holiday cottages in which to relax in front of a log fire after the long plod.
The Medway Marshes – Kent
Here’s a great one to start off! The River Thames flows through many marshes and mudflats, and these lowland walks make for some fantastic birdwatching or shooting! With a camera of course. The great thing is these birds tend not to be overly afraid of people, so you can get a good look with your average pair of binoculars, even if you leave your bazooka lens or Hubble telescope at home.
You can start at Cliffe for the full 15 miles walk or join a bit earlier if you want a bit less of a trek.
You can find out more here: http://www.carfreewalks.org/walks/397/enjoying_the_medway
Countryside and Clifftop - East Sussex
Fancy something with a bit less length, and a bit more height? This circular route follows old smugglers’ paths along part of the Seven Sisters cliffs overlooking the channel. You can get some spectacular views of the Belle Tout lighthouse on a clear day.
I mentioned this was shorter; being only 3 miles (5km) long the walk shouldn’t take up much of your day, so you will have plenty of time for other attractions. The walk starts (and ends) at the Tiger Inn and goes past the house where “Sherlock Holmes retired”.
You can find out more here: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birling-gap-and-the-seven-sisters/trails/birling-gap-walk-from-the-tiger-inn
The Tarka Trail – North Devon
Here’s one that’s close to my heart as it runs just by where I live into my two neighbouring towns in each direction! In fact, I still have an old railway bolt I found in the gravel after falling off my bike when I first got off stabilisers! Anyway, this canal turned railway turned cycle trail runs between Meeth and Braunton. If you wanted to do the whole track, there are 30 miles to play with! There is an audio track you can download along with 21 information boards.
If you want to know more, Click here: http://www.devon.gov.uk/tarkatrail
3 Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden – North Yorkshire
Nature not enough to excite you? This might do the ticket. A 5 mile (8km) walk around the beautiful Fountains Abbey and Royal Water Garden near Ripon in North Yorkshire. You can expect to see the impressive ruins, views of the deer park and the North York Moors - as well as the medieval Plumpton Hall farmhouse and more!
If you want to learn more, click here: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey-and-studley-royal-water-garden/trails/boots-gaiters-and-vistas-walk-at-fountains-abbey
The Monsal Trail – The Peak District
Found between Chee Vale and Bakewell in the Peak District, The Monsal Trail is a traffic free path for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchairs. It runs for 8.5 miles in each direction. The former railway route features lots of interesting things to see, including wildlife, geology, and lots of rail heritage. The trail is clearly marked with signs, listening posts and six tunnels!
Perhaps the most famous feature on the trail is the Monsal Viaduct, which, at the time of its construction, met with a lot of criticism.
"There was a rocky valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time, divine as the Vale of Tempe... you enterprised a Railroad through the valley - you blasted its rocks away…” – John Ruskin
To learn more about the features of this trial through time, click here: http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/trails/monsaltrail
Holywell St Piran – West Cornwall
"A long but fascinating walk for the enthusiast”. This walk will take you around Penhale Point and through the dunes. This walk goes past many remnants of St Pirans Oratory as well as other holy sites attached to his name. Perhaps the most interesting part of this walk is the extensive mine workings on and around the cliffs. To top it off there is an Iron Age castle on Penhale Point accompanied by some Bronze Age barrows nearby.
Read more here: http://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/walksdb/510/