Top winter walks from around the UK

Arthog Falls, Snowdonia

We've found the best walks around the country for you to enjoy this winter — from historic city centres to glorious coastal scenery and breathtaking hilltop views.

East

Berney Arms to Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Berney Arms has the special feeling of a place you can’t get to by road – it’s train, boat or on foot only. Catch a train there from Norwich or Great Yarmouth, and follow the Wherryman’s way to Yarmouth. You’ll spot disused windmills, animals grazing on the marshes, and lots of birds – part of the area is a RSPB reserve. Once you get to Yarmouth, you can catch a train back to Norwich if you need to.

Distance: 5.5 miles

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Whitlingham Broad, Norwich

Just outside Norwich, this man-made broad is used for watersports from sailing to diving, and gets popular at weekends, but is still a lovely place to walk off the Christmas pudding. You should see a fair few waterfowl, as well as some old ruins along the way. If you’re feeling keen, you can follow the Wherryman’s Way beyond the broad, across fields and through woods to Surlingham – lovely on a snowy day.

Distance: 2 miles (circular walk around the broad)

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A city walk in Cambridge

Cambridge is packed with historic colleges and churches, and in winter it’s much less thronged with tourists. Any walk around the city centre will give you something to look at, but a walk along King’s Parade and Trinity Street is particularly recommended, as well as a stroll along the famous Backs. Or you can do a city centre sculpture trail.

South east

Bedgebury National Pinetum, Kent, in winter

Bedgebury National Pinetum, Goudhurst, Kent

Most woodlands are not at their best at this time of year, but conifers are as green as ever. So head to Bedgebury, which has the most complete collection of conifers anywhere in the world. It’s particularly magical in the snow.

If you get a mild day and you’re feeling hardy, they welcome picnickers, and Bedgebury has been voted as best picnic spot in the south (there’s a cafe too). Admission is free but parking charges apply.

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Eridge Rocks, East Sussex

Giant boulders ten metres high may not be what you would expect in East Sussex, but they provide a spectacular setting for a walk as well as a habitat for some rare wildlife. The 40-hectare nature reserve has good flat paths with no stiles or gates. There is a bus stop near the entrance of the lane and there is a car park at the base of the rocks.

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Box Hill from Westhumble

A site of special scientific interest, named after its ancient box trees, Box Hill offers a steep walk and panoramic views without having to go too far out of London. Since it featured as the hill climb during the Olympic road race, it’s increasingly popular with cyclists too, but walkers can go up on footpaths away from the road. You can get a cup of tea from the National Trust café at the top.

Distance: 7 miles (or less if you wish)

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Richmond to Hampton Court

A flat walk with river views and lots of interesting things to look out for, including Ham House and Teddington Lock, where the Thames stops becoming tidal.

Distance: 7 miles

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The Medway marshes, Kent

The marshes are a magnet for wading birds in winter, so bring your binoculars along for a chance to spot avocets, dunlin or wigeon. It’s where Charles Dickens was inspired to write Great Expectations. The suggested route, starting from Cliffe on the Isle of Grain, is long but mostly flat, but you could do a shorter version.

Distance: 15 miles (one-way, with bus back)

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South west

The coast near Wembury, Devon

Wembury, Plymouth, Devon

This coastal walk offers stunning views along the Yealm estuary and out to sea. Look out for gorse bushes with their yellow blossom, and wildlife from birds to seals and even dolphins, if you’re lucky. 

Walk east from Wembury along the cliff path to get to the mouth of the Yealm. You can then walk inland back to Wembury via Clitters Wood.

Distance: 6 miles

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Old Harry Rocks, Swanage, Dorset

These tall chalk stacks, with holes carved in them by the sea, always look spectacular – just don’t get too near the edge when taking your photos!

From Swanage seafront, follow the South West Coast path signs (marked with an acorn) and after some residential back streets, you start climbing steeply up the hillside, with great views back over Swanage bay. The rocks are well signed. You can either turn back or carry on to Studland for a circular walk.

You can also start from Studland, as described in the link below, which involves less steep climbing but also fewer public transport options for getting to the start.

Distance: 3.5 miles

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Midlands

Worcestershire Beacon

A glorious route from Upper Wyche to the highest point in the Malvern Hills, with views in every direction, including over the Severn Valley to the Cotswolds.

Distance: 4.5 miles

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Uffmoor Wood, Worcestershire

Only just outside Halesowen, this is a mixture of ancient woodland, conifers, mixed woodland and birch surrounded by pastureland. The wood is crossed by footpaths and there are also three waymarked trails.  It’s near a spring that some think is the source of the river Stour – said to be the spot where Kenelm, the boy king of the Hwicci, was murdered and buried in AD821.

Distance: 1 mile upwards

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North

Castlefield, area of Manchester on a snowy day

Castlefield, Manchester

Start at the Arndale Centre and head south east towards the canal, then west towards Catalan Square. You’ll pass through Manchester’s main conservation and heritage area, with lots of city life to spot, including the oldest pub in Manchester.

Distance: 2.5 miles

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Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

There are lots of walks you can do in “Hadrian’s Wall country”. At Sycamore Gap you can see the tallest section of remaining wall, as well as “Robin Hood’s tree” made famous in the Kevin Costner film. The tree may be leafless at the moment, but it still makes great photo-opportunity.

You can walk two miles from Once Brewed Northumberland National Park Visitor Centre along the Wall to the tree, or do a longer walk from Sycamore Gap to Housesteads Roman Fort, and marvel at the scale of the Romans’ achievement.

Distance: 2 miles upwards

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Gordale Scar & Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales

There’s continual interest on this walk, from waterfalls to fascinating limestone pavement, a tranquil tarn, and dramatic rock scenery including a dry waterfall. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the most popular walks in the Dales, but going in winter increases your chances of some peace and quiet, and – unless there’s been a dry spell - the waterfalls will probably be more impressive, too.

Distance: 7 miles

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Tolkien Trail, Ribble Valley, Lancashire

If the Hobbit film has reignited your enthusiasm for all things Tolkien, you might fancy walking the Tolkien trail. The famous author loved the Ribble Valley and wrote some of The Lord of the Rings at Stonyhurst College in the village of Hurst Green in the Ribble Valley.

You might be able to spot some of the ways in which the local landscape influenced The Lord of the Rings. The circular Tolkien Trail starts and finishes at the Shireburn Arms Hotel in Hurst Green, going past Pendle Hill and Clitheroe Castle. It’s particularly atmospheric on a frosty day.

Distance: 5½ miles

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Scotland

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Within walking distance of the city centre, this rocky outcrop gives you great views of the city and out to the Firth of Forth. Depending on how far you want to walk, you can start from the city centre, or from Holyrood Park for a shorter walk. The final climb is quite steep, and do take care if it’s frosty or slippery.

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Loch Morar to Tarbet

One of Scotland’s most beautiful lochside walks, lovely at any time of year. Choose a sunny day if you can to see the loch at its best and admire the reflections of the hills in the loch. There’s a good chance you’ll see snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Start from the end of the road at Bracorina (or you can walk from Morar if you’re relying on public transport, and very fit.) If you walk all the way to Tarbet, you may be able to get a ferry back to Mallaig, but check it’s running first, or just walk part of the way along the loch and then turn back.

Distance: 5.5 miles one way (8 miles from Morar village)

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Wales

Arthog Falls, Snowdonia

You can walk to these impressive falls (pictured at top of page), about a mile from the village of Arthog, near Dolgellau. It’s a bit of a climb, but worth it. If you keep on uphill past the falls you will get to the beautiful Cregannan Lakes, with extra views of the Mawddach estuary to reward you as you go.

Distance: 3 miles

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Lawrenny walk, Pembrokeshire

This walk takes in both ancient oak forest – the twisted trunks and branches are a striking sight in winter – and estuary teeming with bird life, including wigeon, teal, greenshank and little egret. Start and finish at Lawrenny quay.

Distance: 3 miles

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Northern Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim

North Antrim cliff path – Giant’s Causeway to Dunseverick Castle, Northern Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway is awe-inspiring at any time of year, and the cliffs on this part of the Antrim coast are some of the most spectacular in Europe.

As you walk along the path you’ll have a panoramic view of the Giant’s Causeway site. There’s not much left of Dunseverick Castle, which was one of Ireland’s earliest castles, but it has great views, a picnic site and free parking.

Distance: 4.8 miles

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Divis and Black Mountain walk, near Belfast

In the heart of the Belfast Hills, this walk is notable for its views over Belfast and much of Northern Ireland. There are several different trails you can follow. Be prepared for a mountain environment and wear decent shoes or boots and suitable outdoor clothing.

Distance: 3.6-6.9 miles

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Port Path, Portstewart to Portrush, Northern Ireland

This walk is worth doing for the spectacular coastal scenery, with views out to Donegal and the Scottish isles, as well as points of interest along the way. You’ll pass St Patrick’s Well, Portnahapple sea pool, an old ice house and a Dominican convent. The sandy beaches of Portstewart Strand and West Strand are more peaceful in winter.

Distance: 6.5 miles (one way)

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Take care when walking

Walking in remote areas can carry risks: make sure you are properly prepared and have a map with you. Take particular care if it could be icy underfoot. The British Heart Foundation does not take responsibility for your safety while on these walks.

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