Overlooking the quaint village of Balmaha, Conic Hill is the perfect walk for these short wintry days. A mere hour’s drive from Glasgow transports you into the fresh, natural surroundings of Loch Lomond’s eastern shores. The reasonably straightforward route begins and ends at the back of the main car park. If you can prise your eyes from the incredible views of the loch, islands and distant Arrochar Alps, it can be done in about three hours. Afterwards, slink across the road for the Oak Tree Inn’s beer-battered haddock (£12.95), a wee dram and a well-earned rest.
Nash Point, Glamorgan
The heritage coast of Glamorgan is a gem, providing everything you could possibly want from a winter walk. Towering Triassic sea cliffs, wooded valleys and secluded coves. The lighthouses at Nash Point (the last in Wales to be automated) between Cardiff and Swansea are rich in the history of a coast notorious for wrecks. To hear the now-obsolete foghorn, visit on the first Saturday or third Sunday of the month. This is one of the more exhilarating sections of the Wales Coastal Path.
Arthur’s Seat and Sheep Heid Inn, Edinburgh
Instead of going to the top of Arthur’s Seat from Holyrood Park Road, go round the hill anti-clockwise. Take one of the footpaths (higher on the hill than Queen’s Drive) eastward as it curves round. At the end you reach a field with a wall which you follow down to the village of Duddingston. Warm your soggy feet at the Sheep Heid pub, close to Duddingston Loch. At this 14th-century inn you can reward your endeavours with a Sunday roast and an ale, as well as skittles or a board game. The walk takes no more than 30 minutes with maximum reward but it does get cold in Edinburgh so you may as well treat yourself.
Haystacks-Honister, Lake District
You can’t beat the walk from Honister slate mine to Haystacks in the depths of winter. This great route follows the old tram tracks to Black Beck and Innominate tarns. You’re rewarded with a breathtaking view of the western fells and Buttermere and Crummock lakes. On a clear cold day it presses the pause button on life, clears the mind and refreshes the soul. Coupled with a night in Keswick with family and a pint of Old Peculiar in the Dog & Gun pub and I’m in heaven.
Hamlets and birds, east Yorkshire
Hotham, North Cave and South Cliffe are three picturesque villages in the East Riding of Yorkshire ideal for exploring along field headlands, tracks and minor roads. There are beautifully restored churches, the parklands of Hotham Hall, and evocatively named farms: Duck Nest, Bunny Hill and Snake Hall. Stop off in North Cave Wetlands for birdwatching and refreshments at the Wild Bird caravan or reward yourself with a late lunch at the cosy Hotham Arms. Walks of varying lengths can be planned with the aid of OS Landranger 106 map.
Hazlewood Moor, North Yorkshire
Park at Storiths hamlet (OS grid ref 081 54) off the A59 east of Skipton and follow the track to the Hazlewood Moor entrance. This gradually ascends offering lovely views across the valley. Bolton Abbey is to the west and is a popular attraction but Hazlewood Moor is a desolate place. The track descends to the ford at Pickles Gill. Follow the track climbing to a junction; keep to the left and descend to Bolton Park Farm and a road. Turn left up for a short climb to Storiths and perhaps a cuppa and a bacon buttie (£3.50) at Buffers Coffee Shop. The walk is 3.5 miles in total.
Gargrave to Malham, North Yorkshire
A tad more than a stroll, the five miles from Gargrave to Malham takes in the most attractive riverside sequence of the Pennine Way, even in the winter. Get a cuppa and a quarter of sweets at the Dalesman cafe and sweet emporium by the bridge, then have a look at St Andrews Church, spared by the Scots during border troubles because of its name. Then head back over the river Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, through woods and pasture land, to rejoin the Aire. Its meanderings will take you past an old squatter’s house, and a mill once owned by Bolton Priory, until at Badger House, with its remarkable weather vane, you head for the limestone crags of Malham Cove and Gordale Scar, and the friendly pubs of Malham village like the Buck Inn and the Lister Arms.
Mountain views, Offa’s Dyke
Monmouthshire, past Abergavenny and into the Vale of Ewyas. Park by the ruins of Llanthony Priory. Take the trail behind the 12th-century Augustinian monastery, following signs to Hatterrall Hill (east), slippery in the cold, but well-trodden by animals. At the top, join Offa’s Dyke path and head north-west. On one side is gentle Herefordshire, on the other the Black Mountains and wild Brecon Beacons. After a couple of miles, take the track to the left, which leads steeply back down to the Priory, and take refuge in the undercroft, which houses the snug hotel bar. About 4.5 miles in total.
• See Hatterrall Ridge walk at countryfile.com
Starting a walk on a crisp clear sunny morning under the huge white boar flag of King Richard III, flying proudly at the summit of Ambion Hill in the heart of England, would lift anyone’s spirit. Take in the views of frosted fields below – the area where the appalling battle of 1485 took place – and march down through Ambion Wood’s shaded paths, pale rays glinting through tall trees, to the Ashby de la Zouch canal. Hardy souls, living on beautifully painted houseboats, greet you cheerily as they sit wrapped up, drinking steaming mugs of coffee. Carry on towards Sutton Cheney village, past an old church, towards the log fires and medieval furnishings of the Royal Arms Pub, where armchairs, hearty food and local beer await you.
Bredon Hill Walk, Worcestershire
You can start this walk from the beautiful village of Overbury, passing through the Overbury estate. It is fairly steep route of around 2.5 miles, which takes you to the summit of the hill (and the small stone tower called Parsons Folly) with a rewarding view over of parts of the Cotswolds and the Malvern Hills. On your return, two great pubs with craft beer and good food are just down the road, the Crown Inn at Kemerton and Yew Tree at Conderton.
Kingley Vale, West Sussex
Kingley Vale reserve near Funtington, West Sussex, is a nature lover’s paradise with woodpeckers, red kites and buzzards. In summer months the density of butterflies is a delight. Winter walking is made easier by the chalk paths that wind up the hillside among 500-year-old yew trees. When you reach the top, you are greeted with two enormous bronze age barrows and a breathtaking view of the South Downs. It’s a good two-hour walk to the top and back but make sure you come down before dusk as the woods are said to be haunted.
Walk through Promenade Park and out along the riverfront to the statue of Bryrhtnoth, the Saxon ealdorman of Essex defeated and killed by Vikings in 991. Views of St Mary’s Church and moored Thames barges along with numerous birds on the estuary make for a interesting and ever-changing backdrop. Snow and frost give add extra atmosphere to the evocative scene.
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Source URL: The Guardian