Christmas and New Year Country Walks

Published on: 10/12/21

If you feel like you couldn’t eat another morsel, yet still find yourself reaching for the mince pies, it’s time to pull a jumper on and get out in the great outdoors! There’s a vast choice for holiday walks and events, with many theme parks and stately homes still offering special activities, whilst decked in festive finery

Or get out into the countryside for an invigorating winter ramble. With nature in deepest winter, it’s often the best time to see animals like deer and foxes, appreciate frost on the branches and the earliest buds starting to peek forth. With our suggestions below, you’ll find great ways for the kids to run off some energy, to re-energise yourself, and even get ahead on those New Year Resolutions!

Mistletoe meander, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire

Tenbury Wells, an ancient market town in north-west Worcestershire, is just a few miles from Birmingham yet surrounded by the beautiful countryside of the Teme valley. It is also the mistletoe capital of Britain; much of the UK's mistletoe grows in this part of the Midlands, and the parasitic plant thrives on the fruit trees in the many orchards dotted around town. Mistletoe auctions have been held there for more than 100 years, and they still survive today, alongside a host of other mistletoe-themed events. So go for a romantic stroll, kiss under the mistletoe, then cuddle up in one of the old-fashioned pubs in the town centre. All together now: “Christmas time, mistletoe and wine...”

Reindeer ramble, Cairngorm National Park, Scotland

Pay a visit to Santa's reindeer in the Cairngorms National Park, north-east Scotland, and see if you can spot Santa’s team relaxing after their busiest night of the year. The only such herd in the UK, you can book onto a daily hill walk to feed the reindeer. Ranging freely over the mountains, a small group is kept in the paddock over winter, so you're guaranteed to see Rudolph and friends one way or another. The wider national park offers fantastic walks along the River Spey, around lochs- one with an island castle- and up mountain passes through Caledonian pine forest.

Pine away, Bedgebury National Pinetum, Kent

Pretend you're exploring the Great Woods of Narnia (after the White Witch was defeated and Christmas has been restored, of course) on a walk through Bedgebury National Pinetum. The arboretum has the most complete collection of conifers on one site anywhere in the world. There are some magical walking trails to explore across 320 acres, including a special winter route.

Stay into the evening, when over a million lights, twinkling reflections and seasonal sounds will fill the air, thanks to Bedgbury’s festive decorations, including sparkling tunnels of light, dancing lakeside reflections and towering pine trees drenched in colour.

Enjoy tasty seasonal treats at the Bedgebury cafe or street food vendors, all special events on until 3rd January.

Robin recce, Stanwick Lakes, Northamptonshire

Stanwick Lakes is a nature reserve in the lovely Nene valley, Northamptonshire. It is especially known for waterfowl but is home to a huge variety of birds, including lots of Christmassy robins. Learn more about winter birds on a guided walk with friendly RSPB wardens, spotting iconic robins and their rarer cousins: linnets, bullfinches and lesser redpolls.

New Year’s Day Swim, Salford keys, Manchester

If your idea of a good New Year’s Day is jumping into water expected to be around 7 degrees, then get to Salford! The long established New Year’s Day swim is a perfect traditional cold water dip for aqualovers daring to be different. Located in Dock 9, MediaCityUK, the friendly, supportive crowd and iconic Lowry Theatre backdrop guarantees top pictures and crazy fun, while plenty of marshals (and no dangerous tides), ensures a safe event. Wetsuits are warmly welcome, as are swimsuits and fancy dress, so celebrate the start of a New Year with family, friends and fellow cold water lovers!

Holly hike, Kew Gardens, London

Kew Gardens boasts one of Europe's most comprehensive collections of that quintessential Christmas plant, holly. The kilometre-long Holly Walk is flanked by many unusual varieties, many of which have grown there since 1874, displaying red, black and white berries. Pick up a free Winter Walks leaflet, showing Kew's most scenic wintry spots, or join a free guided tour of the garden's evergreens.

Coastal walk, Port Path, Northern Ireland

Work off the mince pies on the Port Path, a stretch of scenic coastline between Portstewart and Portrush in County Derry. The route passes interesting buildings such as traditional ice houses, where ice used to be stored in the winter ready for preserving salmon, and St Patrick's Well, which was used as a source of holy water. It also passes Portnahapple, a natural sea pool, ideal for a bracing New Year’s paddle.

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