Our top five places for invigorating winter walksWhatever the weather, getting out and about in natural green spaces provides a fantastic boost to mental and physical health – and the benefits are especially important in this difficult winter.
So pull on a warm coat, thick socks and stout shoes and embrace the great outdoors. Just don’t forget the thermos.
In search of inspiration? Here’s a list of our five favourite rural idylls:
For chocolate box villages
Bourton-on-the-Water makes the perfect base to explore the charming Cotswolds – try a circular route from the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ to Little Rissington via the lovely nature reserve. You’ll enjoy the pretty, quintessentially English, honey-hued villages as well as taking in waterside views. Alternatively the Thames Path or the Cotswold Way offer longer trails through the glorious green gently rolling hills.
For dramatic peaks and dells
The Peak District National Park is wild, rugged and startlingly beautiful with limestone valleys, raw ridges and untamed moors. Serious walkers will enjoy the challenges of the iconic Pennine Way, but for a gentler option, the spa town of Buxton is a great base for walks for all levels. The circular route from Chapel-en-le-Frith via Coombs (and the Beehive pub!) offers breath-taking views while the Pavilion Gardens and Serpentine area is a pretty and accessible place for a stroll.
For legendary waterfalls
There are plenty of lovely, well-marked trials to explore in the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. This romantic region is famous for its Celtic legends, moors, castles, ancient standing stones, and mountains including Pen Y Fan the highest peak in the South, but for a spectacular walk the wonderful waterfalls are hard to beat.
The famous Four Falls trail can be quite steep in parts, but there is a flatter more accessible alternative: the riverside Elidir Trail which ends at Sgwd Gwladus, the Lady Falls.
For traditional English farmland
Kent’s leafy landscape has earnt it the nickname ‘the Garden on England’ and you’ll find a great example in High Weald, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to Tunbridge Wells. It offers varied and verdant scenery, from irregular medieval fields to ancient woodlands and nature reserves – and well-marked trails for all abilities to explore. The Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest is also makes for a spectacular, unusual and accessible day out.
For spectacular lakes
The Lake District in Cumbria with its dazzling glacial lakes and rocky mountains is a world-famous destination for tourists, ramblers, nature lovers and sailing enthusiasts, but there’s plenty of space for everyone. If you’re up for a challenge and well prepared you can tackle the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike in around five hours, but there are plenty of easier walks to enjoy too. From the attractive town of Ambleside you can stroll to the striking Stockgyhll waterfalls in under 30 minutes or for a steeper 90-minute trial head up Loughrigg Fell for a stunning view of Lake Windemere.
Looking for more rural retreats?
Retiring to the countryside is the ultimate dream for many of us. If country living sounds good to you, why not browse our list of elegant retirement homes for sale – or rent – in stunning rural locations across the UK?