Winter wanderings at Abinger Roughs

The sandy soil of Abinger Roughs make it an ideal spot for days out in winter. Pull on your boots and wander along our paths, enjoying the tranquillity and magic of winter. A time for renewal and revitalisation.


For a general introduction to Abinger Roughs follow the posts around the Nature Trail, or for a more thorough exploration of the woods, follow our tree trail.

Natural play area

Not far from the car park is our natural play area filled with logs of varying shapes and combinations designed to encourage young ones test their climbing skills and balance. Simply follow the arrow at the back of the car park.

Play among the trees

As you explore the wider areas of Abinger Roughs, there are lots of places to get the family stuck into these activities:

  • Climb a tree. Scramble up and see how far you can go!
  • Collect fruits - nuts, acorns, berries. See how many you can collect and identify. Score extra points for the rare items - juniper berries, alder cones, wild cherry, yew berries. No matter how tasty they look, don’t eat unless you are sure they are safe. Some can cause an upset tummy.
  • Measure the  girth. Put your arms around the trunk and see how big it is. How many family  members have to join in to reach all around? Which is the fattest tree in the wood?
  • Hunt for bugs. Examine the bark and see what creepy-crawlies are there? What sort of tree has the most in number?
  • Bark rubbing. Take some paper and some crayons. Hold the paper onto the bark and rub to reveal the pattern. Which tree makes the most interesting pattern?

Watch and listen for birds

Many birds become active as they hunt for food and are easier to spot among the bare trees. As you stroll see what you can find:

  • Buzzards. You can often hear the cat-lie cries of buzzards far above you as they soar in the sky
  • Kestrels. Easily identified as a small bird that hovers above the fields hunting for small mammals
  • Jays. A fast flying bird, often seen as a bight flash with a hint of blue as it dashes through the trees collecting acorns for the winter
  • Woodpeckers. The drumming of spotted woodpeckers in woods is unmistakeable. The chuckling ‘yaffle’ of a green woodpecker is also notable. They like to hunt for ants on grass, and will fly off when disturbed.
  • Owls. With the light falling earlier in the afternoon, you may catch some of the owls coming out to hunt. Look for the eerie whiteness of a barn owl, the chunky little owl or hear the haunting t’whit-t’woo of tawny owls. 
  • Winter visitors. As the season progresses and the temperature drops you may be lucky to see some of our regular winter visitors in the woods and open areas - bramblings, fieldfares and redwings. Look out for the dandy waxwings perching high, chomping greedily on rowan berries or hawthorns

On yer bike

There are a couple of bridlepaths that cross Abinger Roughs which with the hills and bumps of the ground, make great cycleways. This is a super way to also explore the surrounding countryside.

Have a winter solstice picnic and look to the stars

Experience the magic of watching the winter solstice sunset and maybe a bit of star-gazing. The short days of winter mean the sun sets at a reasonable time. Bring your binoculars or a telescope and see what heavenly mysteries you can find.   

There are a number seats at the far end of the Roughs facing the south-west so you can find your special spot. A garden kneeler or blanket will make the seats comfortable to sit on and avoid bum-numbness.

Picnics are not just for summer!   Bring a hot drink - hot chocolate, soup, maybe mulled wine for the adults. Warm food can be wrapped in silver foil - a super way to use up Christmas leftovers - sausage rolls, bacon rolls, jacket potatoes, and of course Christmas cake or mince pies to finish.

And if there's snow.....

If you wish to simply enjoy the tranquil magic of a white winter wonderland then there are plenty of paths to wander along and enjoy the snow on the branches.

If you want to be more active there are lots of open areas for snowball fights and building snowmen.