The 10 best Christmas Walks

Christmas offers 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. Here's 10 of our favourite routes.

Christmas walk

Christmas walk

Planning your Christmas walks is easy. Just follow the links to open each walk in OS Maps. From here you can either print the route or follow it on the OS Maps app to ensure you'll never get lost again! 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.

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1. 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.

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.

2. 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.

Cairngorm Reindeer

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.

3. 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.

Skomer and Skokholm Islands

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?

Walk in Marloes OS Explorer MAp OL36

4. 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.

Walk in Kingley Vale OS EXPLORER MAP OL8

5. 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.

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.

6. 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.

Walk in Berkhamsted Common OS EXPLORER MAP 181

7. 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

Sprinkling Tarn

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.

Walk to Sprinkling Tarn OS EXPLORER MAP OL6

8. 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.

Walk to Barr Beacon OS EXPLORER MAP 220

9. 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.

Staithes

Staithes

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.

10. 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.

Nare Head

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!

Walk to Nare Head OS EXPLORER MAP 103

Plan your Christmas walk with OS Maps

More great walks Find routes with OS MaPS GetOutside Podcast: Winter Family Adventures

Edited: 14.12.2020

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