Walks that could really be abroad

We often associate tropical beaches or dramatic landscapes with exotic locations. This summer, experience international beauty right on your doorstep.

A walker admiring the view of the Brecon Beacons

Impressive views in the Brecon Beacons, Wales  

At some angles the rolling hills of the Brecon Beacons could be mistaken for the rocky mountain vistas of New Zealand - just on a slightly smaller scale. With plenty of trails to suit any walker from novice to expert, the sky really is the limit out here in the wilds of Wales.

The famous Biddulph dahlia walk

International influence at Biddulph, Staffordshire 

A walk around the garden at Biddulph takes you on a global journey. Wander from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, look out from the Chinese watchtower or stroll through a re-creation of a Himalayan glen. There are plenty of exotic plants to discover too, thanks to the work of Victorian plant hunters.

Walled Garden

Mediterranean planting at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk 

With climate change indicating a long-term rise in temperatures, the team at Felbrigg have chosen their planting scheme with warmer weather in mind. The Walled Garden is brimming over with Mediterranean plants, including fragrant herbs like sage, lavender and mint. Take a stroll on a warm day and you’ll be instantly transported to sunnier climes.

Rotunda and Italianate Garden at Ickworth
Walking trail

Italianate garden at Ickworth, Suffolk 

For a taste of Italy in the heart of Suffolk, head to the Italianate Garden at Ickworth with its corridors of manicured hedges and towering cypress trees. Inspired by the Hervey family’s travels in Europe, the garden makes the perfect place to settle down for a picnic or find a tranquil hideaway as part of an easy four-mile stroll around the South Pleasure Grounds.

A view of the Italian Garden at Mount Stewart
Walking trail

Exotic blooms at Mount Stewart, County Down 

This trail will take you through the Italian garden, but it’s worth taking a detour to see the Spanish garden just next door as well. Lady Londonderry designed the gardens herself, taking inspiration from her travels in Andalusia when she was first married, and later visits to the famous Renaissance gardens of Italy. Thanks to Mount Stewart’s mild microclimate, she was able to grow many exotic tender plants that now fill the gardens with bright colour and sweet perfume as you wander past.

The garden at Overbecks

Palm paradise at Overbeck's, Devon  

Follow this easy trail as it meanders along the South Hams coast to Overbeck’s, an elegant Edwardian house with a hidden garden of subtropical delights. The mild micro-climate means that all sorts of rare tropical plants thrive here, creating a dramatic display of hot colours and exotic scents. Explore the banana garden or find shade under the palms, and imagine you’re somewhere in the Mediterranean.

 Visitors exploring the Pinetum at Cragside, Northumberland

Towering trees at The Pinetum, Cragside, Northumberland 

Step into a shaded woodland at the Pinetum at Cragside. Its towering conifers and rugged landscape is reminiscent of the Rocky Mountains in North America. You're sure to have a peaceful walk here.

Emerging from a midsummer sunset swim at Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry

Natural beauty at Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry 

The beach at Portstewart Strand is famed for its white sand. Walking next to the rippling waves will transport you to warmer climates, even if you still have to wear your coat in summer...

The Wind Pump situated on the Sedge Fen at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire
Walking trail

Dutch landscapes at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire 

With its flat, open landscapes, tranquil waterways and big skies, Wicken Fen could easily be confused for rural parts of the Netherlands. If you follow the boardwalk trail through the rushes you’ll even come across a historic windpump. Keep an eye out for Wicken’s herd of Konik ponies too – they’re the same breed as a herd that are used for conservation grazing along the River Meuse near Maastricht.