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Festival of Winter Walks

Article by Nick Rinylo

Festival of Winter Walks

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is upon us, the nights are longer but the spirit is in the air. To celebrate the upcoming Festival of Winter Walks (December 20th – January 5th), we’ve collated our favourite walking spots in the UK, complete with where to stay when you visit. So, dust off those walking boots, grab a pair of gloves and take yourself on a walking holiday.

Edinburgh – Hermitage of Braid

Starting the list off strong is the great northern trail in the Hermitage of Braid, Edinburgh. Here features a beautiful river and is located in between Pentland Hills Regional Park and the North sea. Arguably the best thing about this spot is that it’s not at all far from Edinburgh’s beautiful city centre, which is a must for any visitor. Make a weekend of it and book yourself a room at The Balmoral hotel for a slice of Victorian-style grandeur. The luxury spa is exactly what you’ll need after a day on your feet.

Cumbria – Catbells Lakeland

In the heart of the Lake District National Park lies the Catbells Lakeland. With breathtaking views no matter what time of year you visit. It’s also home to the UK’s highest mountain Scafell Pike. This isn’t for the faint hearted – a lot of these trails in this area are very steep so don’t forget your hiking boots.You’ll need some downtime after tackling this one, so whether it’s for an overnight stay or a good feed at the end of the day, put the Macdonald Old England Hotel and Spa on your list. Perched on the shores of England’s largest lake, guests and customers can watch the world go by from the balcony terrace, soaking in the views of Lake Windermere.

Lincoln – Hartsholme Country Park

Hartsholme Country Park based in Lincoln is perfect for all ages, with playgrounds for the little ones to break up the walking. If you’re not too tired after all that fresh air, this historic town is ideal for a family day out, boasting independent shopping streets and Lincoln Castle with guided tours. If you’re travelling as a couple and seeking a night away, head to the aptly named The Rest, a small and chic B&B on one of Lincoln’s most charming cobbled streets. It’s interior encapsulates the cosy charm of Lincoln, with exposed brick walls and plush textures. It’s the perfect comfy spot to rest your feet and refuel.

Norfolk – Sheringham Park

Not a lot beats a National Trust property, and one of the most impressive is Sheringham Park, based on the east coast of England. Wrap up warm and enjoy stunning beach views and the priory maze and gardens and of course, the Grade II listed Sheringham Hall. It’s not open to the public, but the views are more than enough. Norfolk is home to some of the most attractive towns and villages in England, so make the most of the area whilst you’re there. Book a night at The Dales Country House Hotel for a quintessentially British experience. With beautiful gardens and fun for the whole family (even the dog), it’s the perfect place to unwind after exploring this popular hotspot.

Plymouth – Cann Woods The Andy Stevens Local Nature Reserve

Based north of Plymouth lies The Andy Stevens Local Nature Reserve. Enclosed and surrounded by trees, it’s a true woody wonderland, that really comes into its own during winter. This gem is a perfect place to bring your four legged friend, so don’t forget to pack the dog lead. With plenty of cosy pubs nearby for a pitstop, you could easily spend the whole day in this leafy location. For a nights stay, book you and your dog into one of the five dog friendly rooms at the Moorland Garden Hotel. It’s not only the interior that’s beautiful here but the gardens are even more impressive, with manicured lawns and comfy outdoor seating spots to curl up on with a blanket whilst you rest those weary paws.

Bath – Skyline Walk

The Bath Skyline Walk takes around three and a half hours and has a stunning panoramic view of the beautiful historic city of Bath. Consisting of a six mile trail of breathtaking views, ancient woodland and secluded valleys, you’ll want to bring your camera along on this one. And as you might have guessed, Bath has an abundance of beautiful hotels to experience. If you really want to push the boat out though, head to The Bath Priory and indulge in luxurious rooms and suites, award-winning food and an incredible spa. We doubt there’s anywhere better to relax in after an afternoon on the Skyline Walk than this little slice of heaven.

Isle of Wight – Seagrove Bay

If you’re looking for a bit of sea, sand and salty air, head to Seagrove Bay located on the Isle of Wight. You’ll find the perfect walking trail on the east coast, with the reward of fresh seafood at the end. Over on the east coast is the Priory Bay Hotel, currently undergoing redevelopment until 2020. This spot is truly magical, secluded and tranquil and right on the edge of Priory Bay, a beach that will make you feel as if you’re on far away shores. Priory Bay Hotel boasts incredible gardens, designed by notable Arts and Crafts movement pioneer Gertrude Jekyll and visited by Queen Victoria herself.

Eastbourne – Arlington Bluebell Walk & Farm Trail

This trail is as beautiful as it sounds, and something to experience with the whole family. Here you’ll also find The Arlington Farm, a petting corner with Pygmy goats, young pigs and sheep, so be sure to bring the kids along. Although the bluebells aren’t in bloom during the winter, it doesn’t detract from this beautiful woodland walk. It just means you’ll have to come back in the Spring! For somewhere to stay, look a little further afield to Brighton and stay at Hotel UNA. If you’re an interior aficionado, you will not be disappointed by this hotel. It’s unique and clean cut with free standing baths, contemporary lighting and authentic Regency architecture.

Oxford – CS Lewis Nature Reserve Oxford

Nestled in Oxford is the CS Lewis Nature Reserve, a short walk from Shotover Country Park. Part of this walks charm is the fact that the tranquil woodland and large pond used to belong to the literary author CS Lewis. It was here that he was inspired to write ‘The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe’, giving this area a sense and a sprinkle of magic. Rife with wildlife, this reserve is great fun for children and incredibly dog friendly, so no need to leave anyone at home. If you’re sticking around in Oxford, head to Oxford Spires Hotel for the night, probably best suited to couples. Surrounded by beautiful parkland alongside the Thames, this hotel is arguably even more beautiful inside, blending Cotswold stone with contemporary interiors and super comfy bedrooms.

Hull – Humber Bridge walk

A slightly shorter one at approximately one hour and 20 minutes, this one brings a little something different to the table. There’s no need for welly boots and navigating through woodland and fields here. This walk across Hull’s large suspension bridge is pretty spectacular. Pack your coats and scarves and it can be pretty windy up there, particularly in the winter. A former city of culture, Hull is a hive of activity in the East of Yorkshire. Experience the city and book a room at the Best Western Willerby Manor Hotel – dogs are also welcome. You’ll be a short taxi ride from Hull’s centre, whilst enjoying a touch of stately-home chic. Although well known for its al fresco dining, you may not feel warm enough to take advantage of its outdoor offering. It’s just as well that the hotels interior offers bags of character and style, complete with a spa and health club for winding down after tackling the Humber Bridge walk.

Get Active!

So there you have it, our top ten winter walks throughout the UK to celebrate this year’s Festival of Winter Walks. With over 3000 approved routes, there’s something for everyone. We hope we’ve covered enough ground for you. As Christmas is approaching, remember to get your heart rate going and earn those Christmas beer tokens! Why wait until January to get active?

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Imagery source: Google Images