Main image: Chatsworth Estate, Peak District
These top UK winter walks offer stunning scenery, wildlife and historic landmarks - and of course a cosy café - making braving the cold just that little bit more appealing. And, after all that fresh air, you can kick back in your cosy Staycation bolthole, soothe your muscles in a hot tub or bask in the warmth of a warming fire!
1. Barwick Park Follies, Somerset
Atherstone Farmhouse | Sleeps 10 + 2 dogs
Voted among Britain’s top 10 follies by BBC Countryfile, these four follies in Barwick Park, a picturesque estate just south of Yeovil, form the route of our first scenic winter walk and are well worth a visit. Unusual as their names – Jack the Treacle Eater, The Fish Tower, The Rose Tower and The Obelisk – mark the north, east, south and west boundaries of the park respectively. Barwick Park makes for a fabulous walk anytime of year, but there’s something about getting a breath of icy fresh air here at Christmas time which is really special.
Find out more: 5km walk; www.parksandgardens.org/places/barwick-park
Stay nearby: We offer four luxurious grade II listed cottages on the 3,000-acre Dillington Estate, near Ilminster. Fill your days with bracing country walks through the estate on your doorstep or try this walk at Barwick Park, just 24 minutes drive away | Sleeps 4-16 + 2 dogs each
2. Cotswold Water Park, Gloucestershire
Scout on the Water | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs
Winter in the Cotswold Water Park is a stunning experience so why not embrace the great outdoors, breathe some fresh crisp air and enjoy a winter walk? In winter the area is quiet and peaceful, with lots of birds to spot, with thousands of wintering waterfowl which stay here from the Arctic. You can download six circular walks, giving you plenty of opportunity to explore the area, and to experience the huge variety of landscapes, from winding river trails, canal tow paths, vast lakes and woodland walks.
Find out more: waterpark.org/things-to-do/walking - these walks range from 1.6-18km;
Stay nearby: We offer nine stunning holiday homes in idyllic lakeside locations across the Cotswold Water Park. Available for holidays and short breaks all year round, many are dog friendly | Sleeps 5-10
3. Branscombe to Beer Coastal Walk, East Devon
The picturesque Jurassic Coast villages of Branscombe and Beer are home to a plethora of cosy cafés to warm up the chilliest of walkers on a cold winter’s day. This ancient scenic coastline in East Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is home to wonderful unique walks. This walk follows the cliffs along the South West Coast Path with fantastic views of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site before exploring the pretty seaside village of Beer. Returning to Branscombe, the loop takes you back by the Hooken Undercliff path.
Find out more: 9.5km loop; Branscombe to Beer Coastal Walk
Stay nearby: For the opportunity to enjoy this and other lovely winter walks in the area, why not book one of our East Devon cottages? The East Devon AONB truly showcases the best of the British coast and countryside and is the ideal location for a relaxing winter holiday that is filled with fresh country air!
4. Chatsworth Estate, Peak District
The hills and dales of the Peak District and Derbyshire are a walker's paradise at any time of year, but nothing beats wrapping up warm and heading outdoors for an invigorating winter walk. Chatsworth House, the magnificent home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, looks especially beautiful with a frosty backdrop. The trails in the park and Stand Wood are open to walkers throughout the year and there are many paths for you to discover and explore, providing the perfect winter-walk.
Find out more: 2-6km loop; www.chatsworth.org/park/suggested-walks
Stay nearby: Why not treat the family to a winter break at one of our 12 Bakewell holiday cottages, all within 20 minutes' drive | Sleeps 2-51 + 2 dogs each
5. Aira Force, Cumbria
Winter hikes in Cumbria are just as stunning as those in summer and there are plenty of great walks in the valleys, beside the lakes and on the low fells. With the mountains covered in snow, this can often be one of the most visually stunning times to visit, and the crisp air and unique winter light is well worth experiencing. Aira Force Waterfall is almost even more impressive than usual in the winter when there is typically more rain and groundwater. You can choose a longer or shorter walk depending on how much time you have and your ability.
Find out more: The waterfall trails range from 1-3km loops. For something longer, you can follow four other trails; https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/aira-force-and-ullswater
Stay nearby: Our delightful range of dog-friendly Cumbria holiday cottages are nestled in the Lake District and Eden Valley, in England’s most glorious countryside. Matching historic grace with modern luxury, our homes are a paradise for walkers offering a wide selection of spectacular hikes and walks, many from the front door | Sleeps 2-24 + 2 dogs each
6. The Malverns, Herefordshire
Hampton Wafre Cottage | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs
The Malvern hills provide idyllic winter walking routes. The 20+ peaks are a 15km range of ancient rocks dating back over 650 million years and are criss-crossed with 160km of bridleways and footpaths across their entire length. The short wiry grasses on the top of the mini mountain range provide ideal winter walking conditions with far-reaching views over the Severn Valley. The view from the top of Worcestershire Beacon from Upper Wyche village is well worth the climb, as is St Ann’s Well where there are lots of cafes for a pit stop!
Find out more: 7km walk; www.walkingbritain.co.uk/Malvern-Hills-walks-list
Stay nearby: Cosy up in Hampton Wafre Cottage, our luxury holiday cottage in Docklow, less than half an hour's drive from these walks | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs
7. Long Mynd, Shropshire
The Oaks | Sleeps 10 + 1 dog
Carding Mill Valley, at the heart of the Long Mynd, offers far reaching views of the Shropshire countryside and is an ideal base for a winter stroll beside the stream or a more adventurous hike up the hills. Even in winter, there is a weallth of flora and fauna to be found - from a remarkable assortment of lichens to woodland birds sheltering amongst the trees in the lower valleys. Ravens and Buzzards may be seen here at this time of year as well, and, whatever the time of year, there is always a good chance of spotting the wild ponies.
Find out more: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/carding-mill-valley-and-the-long-mynd - these walks range from 1 - 16km
Stay nearby: The National Trust’s Long Mynd Estate is accessible from directly outside the front gate of The Oaks. In winter, enjoy plenty of excellent walks in this breathtaking landscape before settling in by the log burner to snooze it off | Sleeps 10 + 1 dog
8. Minions, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
Sky Lark Cottage | Sleeps 2 + 2 dogs
This short winter walk from Minions to Stowe's Hill is full of folklore and rewarded with incredible views from Stowe’s Hill - you can see right across the whole of Bodmin Moor on a good day. There are plenty of ponds to explore here too, great if you have a pooch in tow. Discover a rich slice of Cornwall's prehistoric past in The Hurlers, three Bronze Age stone circles, as well as recent industrial history, reflected in plenty of old engine houses as you walk. Cheesewring itself is the granite tor on Stowe’s Hill, the centre point of this walk.
Find out more: 6km walk; www.iwalkcornwall.co.uk/walk/minions_and_cheesewring
Stay nearby: Our five cottages with cosy wood burners at Killigorrick Farm are perfect for a winter getaway. Situated in the Looe Valley AONB, they are 8 miles from the start of this walk. To top it off, there are also superb coastal paths nearby | Sleeps 2-10 + 2 dogs each
9. Thetford Forest, Norfolk
Vicarage House | Sleeps 9-15 + 1 dog
The Brecks is one of the driest parts of the UK and a unique landscape of sandy soils which are light and free draining - ideal for a winter walk. Thetford Forest is the largest lowland pine forest in Britain offering 50,000 acres of safe, prime cycling and walking trails. In winter, the forest takes on a magical, tranquil, Narnia- esque quality and is refuge to a wealth of wildlife, including red squirrels, deer, pheasants, woodlarks, nightjars and more. There are 26 walking trails around the forest to suit all ages and abilities.
Find out more: Trails range from 1.5-12km; www.forestryengland.uk/high-lodge/walking-trails-high-lodge
Stay nearby: If your perfect winter escape involves ‘walking in a winter wonderland’, Vicarage House & Pool House boasts wonderful walks in Thetford Forest right from the doorstep. After your walk, head back to the house and cuddle up in front of one of the two open fires, guaranteed to get you all nice and toasty | Sleeps 9-15 + 1 dog
10. Tarr Steps, Exmoor
Nestling in the deeply wooded Barle valley in a stunning location, Tarr Steps is one of the oldest bridges in the world. The river is really beautiful, especially in the winter time and there are plenty of different waymarked walks following the meandering river (while your dogs paddle!) and through ancient woodland. A National Nature Reserve, you may spot Exmoor red deer, brown hares, buzzards and even otters along the way. Reward yourself afterwards with a warming beverage and a bite to eat back at the Tarr Farm Inn, just by the steps.
Find out more: Trails range from 5-19km; www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/tarr-steps
Stay nearby: Head to our four cottages with cosy wood burners at West Hollowcombe Farm, less than 2 miles distant, for a peaceful winter holiday away from the hustle and bustle | Sleeps 4-18 + 3 dogs each