The 12 walks of Christmas

From turkey dinners to the Queen’s speech, Christmas is a time for tradition. One of the most popular activities at this time of year is a festive walk, with millions of people set to head outdoors with family and friends.

A refreshing winter walk is the perfect way to promote family harmony, with 70 per cent of the country saying it’s their favourite way to spend quality time together. It tops other festive activities such as watching TV, preparing the Christmas dinner and readying the house for guests.

To celebrate the nation’s love for a festive stroll we’ve pulled together our ‘12 Walks of Christmas’, so everyone can get outside and enjoy the season together.

The crowns engine houses at Botallack
Walking trail

Botallack Mine, West Cornwall 

Take a bracing winter walk along the Cornish clifftops with this one-mile circular route at Botallack. The ruins of old mine buildings perched precariously above the sea really brings to life the area’s industrial past, and made it the perfect filming location for the recent BBC adaptation of ‘Poldark’.

Walker looking over Derwentwater
Walking trail

Brandelhow and Derwentwater, Cumbria 

This easy amble follows the shore of Derwentwater before heading up to the tranquil parkland at Brandelhow. This was the first piece of land that we bought in the Lake District and Octavia Hill, one of our founders, planted a tree at the official opening ceremony. As this route is on the quiet side of Derwentwater there should be plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife such as kingfishers, roe deer, red squirrels and perhaps even an otter.

Corfe Castle in the mist
Walking trail

Corfe Castle, Dorset 

Dominated by the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle on the skyline, this easy walk is the perfect way to get the whole family outside over Christmas. Fans of Enid Blyton can imagine that they’re exploring Kirrin Castle, for which Corfe is thought to have been the inspiration. Follow the trail out of the village and see if you can imagine 18th-century smugglers hauling contraband across Corfe Common on their way from the Purbeck coast to London. Afterwards, head to one of the village pubs for a rest and some festive refreshment.

Frost covered view to Abbey from Studley Royal water garden
Walking trail

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire 

Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 disillusioned Benedictine monks from York. Now a crumbling ruin, the remains still make an impressive sight on a frosty winter’s day. This route will take you around the boundary of the estate with fantastic views of the Abbey, and then through the deer park and 18th-century water garden. See if you can spot some of the 500 wild deer in their thick winter coats.

Giants Causeway at dusk
Walking trail

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim 

This other-worldly landscape of basalt columns is truly the stuff of legend. Local folk lore claims that the Causeway was built by the giant Finn MacCool, in an attempt to cross to Scotland to fend off his Scottish counterpart Benandonner. Our clifftop walk allows you to take in the spectacular view over the Causeway without getting caught in the crowds.

People walking through the sunlit woods
Walking trail

Gibside, Tyne and Wear 

See parts of Gibside’s history unfold as you explore the inner areas of the estate. On this walk you’ll discover beautiful gardens and elegant buildings, and during winter you have a good chance of seeing roe deer, red kites, winter birds and maybe even an otter if you're lucky. After your stroll, warm up with a cuppa and a slice of cake from the Market Place Café.

Sheep herding  at Hafod Y Llan
Walking trail

Hafod y Llan, Snowdonia 

This walk will transport you into the land of mythical creatures and majestic landscapes. Pass by the rocky hillock of Dinas Emrys, said to be the lair of the red dragon that adorns the Welsh flag, and the impressive cascade of Cwm Llan waterfall. Keep an eye out for our grazing herds of Welsh black cattle, which help to keep purple moor grass and matgrass under control and increase biodiversity on the land.

Lyme south front in the snow
Walking trail

Lyme Park, Cheshire 

If you can’t find anything to watch on TV this Christmas, why not get outside and follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy instead? This easy walk around Lyme will lead you past some of the iconic filming locations from the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. From the pool where Darcy takes a swim to the picture-postcard shot of ‘Pemberley’ as first seen by Elizabeth, you could almost imagine that you’ve been transported back to the Regency era.

Mist on Mam Tor
Walking trail

Mam Tor, Peak District 

The summit of Mam Tor is one of the most dramatic viewpoints in the Peak District. From the top you get a 360 degree view, including Kinder Scout to the north-west, Derwent Moors to the north and east, and the Edale Valley stretching out at your feet. Once you’ve stretched your legs and breathed in the fresh air on this three-mile walk, why not head down to Edale for a cup of tea at the Penny Pot Café?

Frosty river at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Walking trail

Mottisfont, Hampshire 

This six-mile route winds its way through ancient woods and historic farmland, following the crystal-clear waters of the River Test. During the winter months it’s worth getting up a bit earlier on a cold day to see the valley glistening with frost.

Visitors walk in Stowe in winter
Walking trail

Stowe, Buckinghamshire 

This December, the beautiful gardens at Stowe have been transformed into a giant advent calendar. Follow the trail to discover 24 advent ‘doors’ hidden across the landscape, with surprises to discover around every corner. From reindeer decorations to a winter wonderland in a temple, this trail is sure to get you in the festive spirit.

Frost on the sedge at Wicken Fen
Walking trail

Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire 

Wicken Fen was the very first nature reserve that we took on, and it’s been in our care since 1899. On this family-friendly trail you’ll be able to explore a varied landscape of reedbeds, open water and wet grassland. Look out for Wicken's herds of Highland cattle and Konik ponies, not to mention a wide range of birdlife that make their home here during the winter.