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Julia Bradbury's favourite walks

The Outdoor Guide • Walking • Aug 23, 2023 • 10 mins

Walk yourself happy

To celebrate her book Walk Yourself Happy, Julia Bradbury shares some of her favourite walks with us and explains why they’re each so special to her.

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Julia Bradbury's favourite walks

Julia Bradbury's favourite walks

We don’t have to tell you the benefits of being outside in nature for a good walk. It’s not only good for your physical health but also your mental and emotional health too. A good walk can clear the mind, refresh the soul and boost your overall sense of wellbeing. You can quite literally walk yourself happy. Which as coincidence would have it is the title of the latest book from Julia Bradbury.

Following her cancer diagnosis in 2021, Julia found she took great comfort from the time she spent outside. Time spent in nature was, and still is, a huge part in her road to recovery. There is an elemental link between our own health and that of the natural world - and that’s what Walk Yourself Happy sets out to explore.

To celebrate the launch of the book, Julia has shared some of her favourite routes and her own personal stories from each one. 

Rutland Water walk


“We left Dublin in 1972 and moved to Rutland Water - a place that holds a very special place in my heart, not least because it’s where my parents live today. I love coming back here to visit them - it still feels very much like home to me.

Rutland Water itself is such a beautiful space, rich with wildlife. This walk, along the south shore, really helps you feel connected to the nature that surrounds you - and is pretty much guaranteed to help you walk yourself happy. It always delivers for me!”

Julia Bradbury at Rutland Water

Julia at Rutland Water. Credit: The Outdoor Guide

Route description:
Starting in the car park, head west along the southern shoreline of Rutland Water. You’ll notice the Rutland Golf Course to your left - from here you then enter the beautiful nature reserve. Keep your eyes peeled as here you may see one of the ospreys that now call Rutland Water home. When you reach the relief road it’s time to head inland, past the Camping & Caravanning Club accredited site and towards Rutland Nursery Cafe (they have a fabulous shop too) - or onwards into Edith Weston if you prefer something a bit stronger!

This is a linear, 5km walk - so you’ll either need to arrange to leave a car at the other end, or you can either walk along the footpath running alongside the main road back towards where you started, or retrace your steps along the water's edge.

Mam Tor walk

Peak District National Park

“When we lived in Sheffield, my Dad would take me out walking in the Peak District to keep me out of trouble! Mam Tor was one of the first walks that we did then and still remains one of my favourites.

Following my mastectomy, this was where I came with my whole family for a walk. It was such a special moment to share with my own children what my Dad had shared with me all those years ago.”

Mam Tor 

Mam Tor

Route description: 
This is a circular walk that starts and finishes in Castleton and takes in not only Mam Tor but also the peaks of Hollins Cross, Back Tor and Lose Hill as you traverse the Great Ridge that separates Edale from the Hope Valley.

Although the walk has some relatively steep climbs, you will be rewarded, on a clear day, with views out across towards Kinder Scout, Win Hill and Stanage Edge.

Crieff Hydro walk

Perth and Kinross, Scotland

“I have very fond memories of family holidays spent here when I was younger. It’s also somewhere that my parents would bring my nephew Jack when he was much younger and more recently my sister (also known as Aunty GiGi), has brought my own children.

The hotel was founded by a family with five children and so safe adventures outside were something important to them. As well as great walking routes there’s more activities here now - including tree top climbing (highly recommended by my children and their Aunty GiGi!)

The hotel lies at the foot of The Knock - and this walk is another that was a regular for my Dad and I.”

Crieff Hydro walk

Crieff Hydro walkCrieff Hydro walk

Route description: 
The paths up to the summit of The Knock are well marked from the hotel. The paths up are short but steep - but the views from the top make it all worth it!

Castle Crag walk

Lake District

“I absolutely love the Lake District. It’s a walkers paradise. Back in 2007 I did a series for the BBC on some of the Wainwright walks. Of all of them, and although it’s only a small one, I think this is probably my favourite. Alfred Wainwright is now synonymous with the Lakes, and since that series I have been called the Lady of the Lakes with a rise in visitors there being known as the ‘Julia effect’!”

Julia Bradbury Castle Crag walk

Julia on the Castle Crag walk

Route description:
Begin this walk at Grange and follow the river through the woodland and past the campsite at Hollows Farm. Heading south, we take the old quarry road. It’s a short, sharp climb up the crag side, going up the zigzag path towards the summit cairn.

Colyton walk


“2020 will be remembered for many reasons - some better than others! For me it will be remembered as the year I turned 50.

My family and I went down to Devon to celebrate the occasion. We had the perfect venue as we were staying in 52 acres of beautiful parkland staying at Higher Wiscombe Holiday Cottages”, close to the South Devon coastline which is spectacular. It’s an area I’ve done a lot of filming in (both for Countryfile and a series on walks in Devon and Cornwall).

The outdoors being accessible for all is something I’m passionate about - and this particular walk is a great example of how it can be as a beautiful, tranquil walk that is suitable for wheelchair users as well.”

Julia Bradbury with her family in Devon

Julia Bradbury with her family in Devon. Credit: David Venni

Route description: 
The Seaton Wetlands have over 4km of trails and boardwalks that are suitable for wheelchair users. Should you need it, an all-terrain wheelchair is available on site to hire ensuring that everyone can enjoy this beautiful part of South Devon and watch the abundant wildlife.

Holkham walk


“When I presented Countryfile I got to experience some extraordinary things. One was tracking pink footed geese in Norfolk. The winter visitors had travelled from possibly Iceland, Svalbard or even Greenland to be here. As with any wildlife, you need to be really quiet to see them - not easy when you have a film crew in tow!

That day we got lucky. It was such a beautiful sight to see those birds. It still makes me smile when I think of it today.”

Deer on the Holkham walk Norfolk 

Deer on the Holkham walk

Route description: 
It’s not just birds you might get sight of a Holkham - this walk you might spot some deer (just make sure you’re being quiet as they’re quite shy!) This is a route perfect for little boots - and as a circular walk you can go one of two ways. You can either start with the playground - or use it as the incentive at the end of your walk to keep your little ones going!

Firle walk

South Downs National Park

“The newest of the National Parks in the United Kingdom, the South Downs is full of natural wonders. It was in the South Downs that I filmed part of the Secret Britain series - I’d gone in search of the illusive Wasp Orchid.

Not only did we find one, we also got to see how it mates - something that my guide, David, had never seen before. He’d been interested in them since 1947! Suffice to say that we had to try to keep his attention for the interview as he was busy snapping away with his camera as the mating was definitely a first for him! The South Downs is home to many lovely walks - and this is just one of them!”

Julia Bradbury enjoying the South Downs 

Julia Bradbury enjoying the South Coast

Route description:
This is a great, circular walk that takes you up on the Downs, with wide reaching views out to sea to the south and across the East Sussex countryside to the north. The walk starts in the village of Firle (where there is a free car park to use). On your way back - keep an eye out for the Beanstalk Tea Garden. It’s only open Thursdays - Sundays and bank holidays but offers fabulous teas and cakes in their beautiful gardens.

Anglesey walk


“There’s nothing better than a walk with a view - and it’s safe to say that the coastal walk around Anglesey has plenty to offer! This walk was part of a series I did called Best Walks With a View - for it I had fresh clams cooked for me down on the beach. They were absolutely delicious!”

Beautiful Anglesey

Beautiful Anglesey. Credit: The Outdoor Guide

Route description:
This is just a small part of the Anglesey Coastal Path and, as it’s a linear walk, you’ll either need to arrange a way of getting back to your car (at nearly 20km - it may be too far for you to retrace your steps back!). You’ll be walking alongside the Menai Strait with views out towards Eryri (Snowdonia).

Hampstead Heath walk


“Sometimes you forget that urban environments are home to some amazing green spaces and London is certainly no exception. Hampstead Heath is an oasis of green and offers amazing
views across the city and beyond.

The view from Parliament Hill is fantastic. Surrounded by fields, trees and lakes with the Shard and the Walkie Talkie building glistening in the far distance. It really is such a beautiful spot - so much so that it’s where I chose to do the cover shoot for my new book!”

Julia Bradbury at Hampstead Heath 

Julia Bradbury at Hampstead Heath. Credit: David Venni

Route description:
This walk starts by taking you past Kenwood House before taking you around by the lakes, up on to Parliament Hill (with the wonderful views out across the city) before weaving its way into the woodland. As you leave the woodland you’ll be offered great views of Kenwood House in the distance.

Killiney Hill walk

Dublin, Ireland

“This is where it all began for me. Not only is Dublin the city of my birth, it’s also where I took my first steps and where I got my love of hill walking … although technically I was carried up by my Dad I’m told!

When I was just a few months old my Dad took me up Killiney Hill to the south of the city, accompanied by our old Pyrenean Mountain dog, Lara for the first time. It’s only a short walk up, so a perfect route for little boots, to the Obelisk at the summit. My Dad sat me down to enjoy the view across the Irish sea in one direction, the Wicklow mountains in another and the city of Dublin behind us.”

julia bradbury childhood photo Killiney Hill walk

Julia as a child on the Killiney Hill walk.

Route description:
This walk starts in the main car park and follows the well-marked paths through to the summit of Killiney Hill towards the south. This walk is only 1.3km in length so perfect for little boots to enjoy. If you want to enjoy a longer walk, when you return back towards the car park you can take other well-marked paths that also take you up to the summit of Dalkey Hill too.

You can find more of Julia's favourite walks across the UK plus more on The Outdoor Guide. 

Walk Yourself Happy

Walk Yourself Happy is published on 14th September 2023 and is available now to pre-order from all good booksellers. To celebrate the launch of the book, Julia will be hitting the road for a series of talks and book signings - starting in Lytham on Monday 18th September and is currently going through to Friday 20th October for the Dorchester Literary Festival. For details of the tour and to book your tickets here

The Outdoor Guide is a place for people who love getting outdoors, lacing up a pair of muddy boots and discovering new walking routes in the great outdoors.

Routes nearby

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The Outdoor Guide: Rutland Water south shore Accessible Walk, Rutland

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Country Walking: Beer & Branscombe, Devon

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Published: Aug 23, 2023 Edited: Sep 18, 2023

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