Winter wildlife walks

Enjoy a day out with us for the best wildlife walks during the winter months. We care for 247,000 hectares of land, and that includes all of its furry, feathered and four-legged residents. From spotting rare red squirrels to majestic deer, there is something extra-special about seeing the best of nature against a frosty winter backdrop. Here are our top winter wildlife walks, ranging from difficult walks for the more dedicated walkers to easy strolls of an hour, all chosen by our nature expert, Matthew Oates.

A red squirrel peeps out on a tree in Borthwood Copse on the Isle of Wight
Borthwood Copse is a good place to spot red squirrels National Trust / Ian Ridett

Borthwood Copse Walk, Isle of Wight 

This short atmospheric walk of just over one mile, in a secluded part of the island at Borthwood Copse takes you through woods that are home to an Isle of Wight special attraction, the red squirrel. The walk will take approximately 40 minutes to complete. Dogs are welcome, but please keep them on a lead around wildlife. Grade: easy

Belted Galloway cattle, Box Hill, Surrey.
Spot this heritage breed of cattle National Trust Images / Jason Ingram

Box Hill Hike, Surrey 

This strenuous eight-mile circular hike at Box Hill, takes you along rough ground in places and steep slopes, slippery paths and many steps. Approximately four hours long, but allow plenty of time for rest stops and lunch. You'll need suitable footwear, clothing and provisions and look out for wildlife such as belted Galloway cattle and kestrels. Grade: difficult

Young goats play rutting at Cheddar, Somerset
Young goats play rutting at Cheddar National Trust / Jim Elliott

Cheddar Gorge walk, Somerset 

At almost 400ft (122m) deep and 3 miles (4.8km) long, Cheddar Gorge is England's largest gorge and, with its weathered crags and pinnacles, is one of our most spectacular natural sights. There's a rich variety of wildlife and plant life to be spotted on this exhilarating four-mile circular walk. But don't attempt the walk in foggy or very windy weather and stay on signed footpaths. It should take you one hour and forty minutes. Look out for peregrine falcon, Soay sheep, jackdaws, buzzards, ravens. Grade: moderate

A small red squirrel sits amongst branches at Formby
Discover the beautiful woodlands, home to the rare native red squirrel National Trust Images / Joe Cornish

Formby red squirrel walk, Liverpool 

Explore the beautiful woodlands at Formby, which is home to the rare native red squirrel on these easily marked paths, with a few short, steep slopes. This gentle walk is just under two miles long and should take about an hour to complete. Dogs are welcome but please keep them on a lead at all times. Grade: easy

Grey Wagtail feeding
Grey wagtail National Trust

llam Park to Dovedale Walk, Derbyshire 

Discover the limestone countryside of the southern Peak District, famed for its wildlife and geology. Starting at the tranquil Victorian landscape and woodland of Ilam Park, this easy two and a half mile walk takes you into Dovedale, an iconic and spectacular gorge carved out by the river Dove and you should complete it in just under one hour. Wildlife to watch are grey wagtails and dippers. Grade: easy

A curlew, which are found on Marsden Moor, West Yorkshire
Curlews are one of the iconic species that come to the moors to breed in spring

Marsden Moor heritage walk, West Yorkshire 

This circular eight-mile walk on Marsden Moor which takes you across open moorland, where the weather can change very quickly. Bursting with wildlife, see if you can spot mountain hare, curlew, grouse, golden plover, dunlin, merlin, short-eared owl, rare twite, shrews, voles, weasels, stoats. Wear sturdy walking boots and warm clothing and waterproofs for this four and a half hour walk. Grade: moderate

Petworth House and Park deer in autumn
Deer in the parkland at Petworth, West Sussex National Trust / Chris Lacey

Petworth ancient trees walk, West Sussex 

Petworth is a magnificent house set in 700 acres of landscaped deer park and the parkland is home to many characterful veteran trees. This moderate walk of four miles should take approximately one and a half hours. The terrain is steep in places and can be muddy underfoot. Grade: moderate

East hide at Newtown Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight
East hide at Newtown Nature Reserve

Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight 

This largely flat, gentle four-mile walk will take you two hours through the varied habitats of the island’s only National Nature Reserve, with an optional visit to East Bird Hide. There are a number of gates and bridges and two stiles on a very uneven path to the hide. Dogs are welcome, but please keep on a lead at all times. Spot Brent geese, little egret, belted Galloway cattle and red squirrel. Grade easy

Visitors walking dogs on the iron bridge over the River Teign
Visitors walking dogs on the iron bridge over the River Teign John Millar

Teign Valley classic circuit, Newton Abbot 

Perhaps the most famous walk on Dartmoor, this wildlife trail takes you past the imposing bulk of Castle Drogo - the last castle to be built in England - along the breathtaking Hunters Path high above the River Teign. It's mixed terrain, with steep descents and moderate climbs. The walk is three and a half miles long and should take two or two and a half hours. Spot buzzards, dippers, grey wagtails and deer. Grade: moderate

Wicken Fen - Konik ponies and horses in frost
Wicken Fen - Konik ponies and horses in frost Carol Laidlaw

Wicken Fen wildlife walk, Cambridgeshire 

This easy trail explores a fragment of the wilderness that once covered East Anglia and is two and three quarter miles long and will take about one and a half hours to complete. Wicken Fen is our oldest nature reserve and is home to rare species such as the bittern and water vole. Only 0.1 per cent of Britain’s fenland remains un-drained. Look out for the Konik ponies, highland cattle, roe deer, wigeon, teal and shoveler. Grade: easy