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Best Christmas walks

By OS Team

Published on 13 min read

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Christmas and New Year offer so many reasons to put on your walking boots and head out into the great outdoors. Whether it’s to breathe in the refreshing winter air or to walk off your Christmas dinner, there’s nothing like a festive stroll. To help you find one near you, here are some of our most popular.

This year, we’ve added a few more walks we think you’ll enjoy. These include the most followed walks in the OS Maps during the festive period. 

Planning your Christmas walks is easy. Just follow the links to open each walk in OS Maps. To find more great walking routes near you, select Routes in the top menu of OS Maps, and then Discover Routes – or use the plotting tool to create your own.

Unlock the full features of OS Maps and get offline access to all 607 OS Explorer and OS Landranger maps and the ability to print sections, try OS Maps Premium

If you’re more into your paper maps, then check out the OS Christmas Shop where you’ll find some great offers on maps and outdoor gear. 

Tring Park, Hertfordshire

Tring is a small market town lying at the edge of the Chiltern Hills, where the Roman Akeman Street meets the ancient Icknield Way. Probably the most famous resident of the town was Lionel Walter Rothschild, whose family bought the Wren-designed Tring Mansion in 1872. On this walk you’ll climb up from the pretty market town of Tring to Hastoe and return through beautiful Tring Park which is a mix of mature woodland and parkland. Tring Park is managed by the Wildlife Trust and is an Area of Natural Beauty. It’s an easy walk on paths and lanes with one gradual climb. There are plenty of facilities, places to park and options for food and drink in Tring. 

Tring Park, Hertfordshire

Damflask Reservoir, Sheffield

Just outside of Sheffield, this leisurely walk follows an inclusive woodland route, along the north shore of the Damflask Reservoir with great views across the water towards the surrounding hills. At the start and end of the route there are slopes approximately 20 metres in length. This is an accessible walk suitable for wheelchairs, prams and buggies and can be done at any time of year. 

Damflask Reservoir, Sheffield

Broadway Tower, Worcestershire

Broadway is a quintessential Cotswold village with a wide main street and glorious old houses at the foot of a steep escarpment. It can get quite busy here but footpaths head off in every direction and it won’t be long before you leave the crowds behind. This undulating loop follows parts of the Cotswold Way – and if you break the walk to climb the steps to the top of Broadway Tower (a prominent late 18th-century folly on the Cotswold edge – there’s a charge for admission) you will be able to see sixteen UK counties on a clear day! The route has a total ascent of more than 1000 feet and features of interest include a deer park and even an underground Cold War bunker (open weekends, Apr-Oct), a few paces from the Tower. This is a fine introduction to gentle family hillwalking, with a couple of climbs, great views and – right at the end – the large Broadway play park with climbing wall, towers and zip wire.

Broadway Tower, Worcestershire

Balmoral Cairns, Aberdeenshire

Cairns are man-made mounds of stone. Some mark high points and others mark trails. But on the Balmoral Estate in the southeast quarter of the Cairngorms National Park, there are 11 cairns more elaborate than any others you’ll find in Britain. Built for royalty, the Balmoral cairns mark important events in the lives of Queen Victoria and her family, who bought Balmoral Castle in 1852. It remains a favourite residence of the current queen. Building the cairns was a family affair, with each member of Victoria’s large family and entourage placing stones. Most celebrate her children’s marriages, but the largest – a huge pyramid erected in 1862 – commemorates the passing of her beloved husband Prince Albert. This walk explores forest trails linking eight of the cairns, including the oldest and grandest. Through breaks in the clustered ranks of Scots pine, you’re treated to sweeping views over Deeside and the castle, and a window on the majestic lines of Lochnagar. Rising to 3789 feet, this mountain easily earns its status as a Munro. By Philip Thomas. 

Balmoral Cairns, Aberdeenshire

Box Hill, Surrey

This short family walk on Box Hill shows off everything that’s great about the Surrey Hills and North Downs, with long-reaching views and abundant wildlife and plants. 

Box Hill Christmas walk

Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire

What could be more festive than a walk around the UK’s ‘mistletoe and holly capital’? A prime location for walkers, Tenbury is a small ancient market town situated in the Teme Valley. Tenbury Wells lies in an area known as ‘The Town in the Orchard’, boasting fields of fruit and hop growing trees, which has led to its close association with mistletoe. Many of the orchards in Tenbury are full of this festive plant, and mistletoe auctions have been held in Tetbury for over 100 years.

Views on the Tenbury Wells walk

Take a leisurely stroll around the surrounding countryside in this 7-mile circular route from the centre of town. You’ll walk through beautiful farmland and patches of woodland which look truly magical in winter. Half way around you’ll go over Haws Hill where you can stop for a break and admire the views below. This walk will take you around two hours and a half so you’ll still have enough time to take a look at some of the beautiful Georgian buildings in Tenbury.

Cairngorms, Scotland

For a truly magical Christmas walk, take a day trip to the Cairngorm mountains in Scotland to get a glimpse of the only free-ranging herd of reindeer in the UK. A haven for wildlife, walking and climbing, Cairngorms National Park is diverse – complete with wild mountains, heather moorlands and magical forests.

Free-roaming Cairngorm Reindeer

This beautiful 8-mile circular route is perfect for spotting reindeer and red squirrels. There are four car parks close to where you’ll begin your walk through the trees on the historic Thieves Road. Once you emerge from the forest on to Ryvoan Pass, you’ll find wide open moors and a ring of peaks on the horizon. Up on the tops is ‘Lochan Uaine’ which means ‘Green Loch’. It’s claimed that its green water is due to fairies washing their green garments in it. There’s likely to be snow underfoot at this time of year so ensure you are fully prepared, know how to navigate in winter, and also have the right footwear.

Marloes, Pembrokeshire

Take in a big breath of sea air to blow away the cobwebs in Marloes this Christmas. This part of the coastline showcases the best of Britain’s scenery and offers plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife and vessels out at sea – a great game to keep the whole family entertained! The National Trust own the western part of the peninsula including Marloes deer park, which despite its name, has never actually contained any deer.

Views over the Skomer and Skokholm Islands

This 10-mile walk takes in one of our favourite sections of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and makes a great day out. It begins in the village of Marloes and heads towards the coast before bending back again. For a route that passes over cliff tops, it is surprisingly gentle on the knees and doesn’t have too many ups and downs. The highlight of this walk are the views out to Skomer and the Skokholm Islands, which are spectacular breeding grounds for seabirds including puffins. How many can you spot?

Kingley Vale, West Sussex

Kingley Vale is a beautiful hillside nature reserve close to the market town of Chichester. There are a number of leisurely walking and cycling routes in the area, but this 5-mile wander is particularly nice in winter. On this walk, you’ll wander through woodland until you reach the tumuli, named the Devil’s Humps. Here, the ground plateaus and opens out, showcasing views over Chichester Harbour and the South Downs. There’s a (free) car park at waymark number six on the route at the bottom of Lambdown Hill. You could also park in the village of Stoughton where there is a nice pub called the Hare and Hounds.

Lyme Park, Cheshire

Lyme Park is beautiful throughout the year, but we think it offers some extra magic over Christmas. Nestled at the edge of the Peak District, the beautiful mansion house is surrounded by lavish gardens within a deer park, and is the perfect setting for a festive stroll. The 1,300 acre estate offers stunning views, and its own medieval herd of red and fallow deer.

Deer in ​Lyme Park

This 6-mile walk around Lyme Park will take you past some of the most iconic filming locations around the BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, so you can be transported back to the Regency era yourself, without any of the Christmas TV! From the car park you’ll stroll through woodland boasting a variety of birds and trees. As you walk up Sponds Hill to the viewpoint, keep looking back to see the views expand steadily. This short out and back trip is most definitely worth it. From here, you’ll head back to the car through the deer park where you will get a glimpse of beautiful Lyme Hall itself.

Berkhamsted Common, Hertfordshire

Just a hop, skip and a jump from London, Berkhamsted is a historic market town and the starting point of this 10-mile circular walk. Begin your ramble along the Grand Union Canal where you’ll spot painted narrowboats, neat locks and passing trains. Once you reach the village of Cow Roast, cross the canal and walk up through the fields to get a glimpse of the Chilterns. You’ll then pass through the pretty village of Aldbury where there is a nice pub called the Greyhound Inn. From here, the route will take you up into woodland onto Pitstone Common where the Bridgewater Monument can be found. Contine on picturesque woodland trails through Ashridge Park and Berkhamsted Common before heading back to town.

Sprinkling Tarn, Cumbria

The Lake District can turn into a magical winter wonderland during the Christmas period. There’s tons of festive walks to choose from and you’ll never be short of a view, just look up to see the awe-inspiring snow-capped peaks. This 6-mile walk to Sprinkling Tarn, the birth place of the River Derwent, is a firm favourite. Did you know the water here is used to make whiskey? It’s fed right into the Lakes Distillery.

Sprinkling Tarn Christmas walk

This mid-level route will take you into the hills of Lakeland and away from the popular vantage points of nearby Scarfell Pike and Styhead Tarn. Begin by following the well-trodden path to the tallest mountain in England (Scarfell Pike) before cutting it short and heading off in the direction of Sprinkling Tarn. Sprinkling Tarn is often missed by others, making it a fantastic place to visit and take in the views. Despite feeling like you are up in the clouds, this walk has no exposed summits or gruelling ridges and you’re unlikely to need crampons – yet you will still experience the magic of the mountains. You will need good navigation skills in poor visibility, check the forecast before setting off and always prepared for walks in the fells.

Barr Beacon, West Midlands

‘Bagging’ a beacon will certainly get the kids out the door this Christmas. Barr Beacon is one of the highest point in the West Midlands and on a clear day it’s said you can see 11 counties including Powys in Wales! This 8.5-mile route makes a great half day walk so make sure you pack your picnic blanket and some turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwiches for lunch with a view. Up the top is a nature reserve along with a war memorial, a trig point and a reservoir. There’s certainly no shortage of things to see. There’s three car parks to choose from along the route including two on Barr Beacon itself.

Stithes and Roxby Woods, Yorkshire

This 7-mile walk is great for families wanting to stretch their legs over the Christmas period. It’s good underfoot, following bridleways, stony tracks and very quiet country lanes on the northern tip of the North York Moors National Park. Park up at the layby on Cowbar Lane, around 1 mile north of Staithes and walk parallel to the coast taking in the beautiful sea views. From here, you’ll turn right into the woodland which is a winter wonderland in its own right and fantastic when frosty – pack a thermal flask of hot chocolate for a warm drink in the trees.

Stithes

You may also want to look out for disused mine tunnels within Roxby Woods, they are steeped in history which you can read up on before you set off and teach the kids a thing or two! Emerging from the woods, continue through beautiful farm land before heading back towards the coast. Now it’s time to stop for a moment and take in the view. Breathe in the fresh sea air and awaken the senses before finishing your walk in the historic fishing village of Staithes, home to Captain James Cook.

Nare Head, Cornwall

Feeling a bit cooped up? A trip to the Cornish coast will certainly awaken your senses. Breathe in the fresh sea air in this 7.5-mile circular walk starting from Carne Beach and up to the remote point of Nare Head. Beyond Nare Head a pleasant ramble takes you along the South West Coastal Path past the steep cliffs and coves. Look out to sea and you’ll find Gull Rock, a unique land formation home to a large sea bird colony.

Gull Rock from Nare Head

Head inland from the quaint village of Portloe through fields and meadows until you see Veryan Castle, a large, flat area, which is likely to have enclosed an Iron Age homestead. Before you pass it, make a detour to the village of Veryan, which is famous for its five whitewashed round houses with thatched conical roofs. A great photo opportuntiy whatever the weather. Once back at the beach, take off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes – are you brave enough to dip your feet the sea? Don’t forget your towel!

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