Wild trails near urban areas

Imagine escaping the city, just for a day, and discovering a wild place with winding trails and windswept views. These are places under our care, just a short drive from the jostle of urban life, where your feet and thoughts can wander. Whether you want to run, hike or take a leisurely stroll, here are ten beautiful places to visit.

View between trees into the distance by a footpath on the Clent Hills
Walking trail

Clent Hills, near Birmingham  

‘I just love the calming atmosphere and magnificent vistas from the top. I spend time walking around the Clent Hills as often as possible. The buttie cafe at Nimmings Wood car park is out of this world.’ - Tracy W, visitor

Tourists have been escaping to the Clent Hills from nearby towns and cities for over 200 years. There are miles of footpaths, bridleways and trails to explore. Race to the top for panoramic views over the Cotswolds, Shropshire Hills and the Welsh borders.

Trees and bluebells in the garden at Dunham Massey, Cheshire
Walking trail

Dunham Massey, Cheshire 

‘Dunham Massey in autumn is so peaceful and fresh, with just a few squirrels and deer for company.’ - Dilys T, visitor

Escape the hustle and bustle of Manchester to Dunham Massey’s famous deer park and gardens. You can join guided walks to discover more about Dunham’s history and wildlife, or take the route through ancient trees for 2.5 miles of easy terrain.

View over the Lily Pond towards the Column to Liberty at Gibside, Tyne and Wear
Walking trail

Gibside, Tyne and Wear 

Gibside is a real taste of the country on the edge of the city. There are winding paths, refreshing open spaces and elegant historical buildings to explore. Come and try our parkland walk, or join the running group.

‘I think the support element is a really important part of our running group. It’s on a Friday so everyone has a chat about their week.

‘At Gibside running really is geared to all abilities. We have a group for complete beginners and a group that’s training for the Great North Run. We have also put up markers so that if you can’t make our Friday runs you can follow a route of your choice whenever you fancy.’ - Samantha Morgan, Run England group leader

* To find out more about the running group call 01207 541820 or email Gibside.

View of a wooded glade in the parkland at Killerton, Devon, in September

Killerton, Devon

‘Killerton is an antidote to road running, with 6,400 acres of parkland, rolling hills and dense woodlands. This includes over 60 miles of footpaths, which are also great for walkers. ‘Ashclyst forest at Killerton is a must if you’re looking for a slightly challenging trail. It’s a mixture of well maintained footpaths and bridal paths, offering some trickier terrain in winter months.

‘We get a lot of interest in our parkrun. These are super friendly events, with a strong sense of community. They’re open to all abilities, happen every Saturday morning, and are followed by tea and cake in the café.’ - Laurence Eastment, staff member and keen runner

People running in Leigh Woods

Leigh Woods

Leigh Woods are a runners and walkers haven on the doorstep of Bristol, with ancient trees and limestone grassland. Designated pathways lead you through oak, small leaf lime and ash forests.

One pathway follows the base of the Avon Gorge, where the true scale of the ravine becomes apparent. Look up to see the soaring suspension bridge and beautiful broadleaf woodland. Or bring along your bike to try some of the cyclists-only trails. Leigh woods is a fantastic spot for off-road mountain biking.

The Longshaw estate in the Peak District, Derbyshire
Walking trail

Longshaw, Derbyshire 

This is real walking country, just a 20 minute drive away from Sheffield. Discover views of the Peak District, ancient woods and heather moorland. If you’re looking for a short walk or run, try the Burbage Brook trail, a circular route which takes you alongside a tumbling stream.

The Cage, an Elizabethan hunting tower, in the medieval deer park at Lyme Park, Cheshire
Walking trail

Lyme Park 

‘Three friends and I studying at the Uni of Manchester visited Lyme Park. We hadn't left the city in ages. The sun was shining, the fresh air was invigorating and the house and grounds were beautiful. We ended up becoming members, so now we can escape the city more often.’ - Sophie R, visitor

Nestling on the edge of the Peak District, Lyme Park is a 1,300 acre estate offering fantastic walks and runs. Sprint past herds of deer, take a tranquil stroll around the estate or meander through the Edwardian rose garden.

A child watching a runner at Minnowburn, Co Down, Northern Ireland
Walking trail

Minnowburn, Belfast 

‘Minnowburn is a very popular area for walkers and runners. It’s part of the Lagan Valley Regional Park, and you can walk here along the towpath from the city.' - Craig Somerville, Belfast area warden

Look out for the rose garden, the magnificent Minnowburn Beeches and Shaw’s Bridge, an ancient crossing that dates back to the Neolithic period. If you follow the Giant’s Ring trail you will see this massive earthwork circle, built around 2700BC.

The Garden House in the Pleasure Grounds at Osterley, London

Osterley Park, Middlesex

Osterley Park is just a tube ride away from central London but it’s a world apart from the city. Surrounded by ancient meadows, parks and farmland, this is one of the last surviving country estates in London. What better place for a quiet stroll?

If you'd prefer a bit more speed you can join organised runs at Osterley via the Parkrun website.

The south west front of Tredegar House, Newport, South Wales

Tredegar House, Monmouthshire 

With 90 acres of gardens and parkland, this is an ideal setting for getting away from it all. Take a walk along the avenues of majestic trees, or around the lake and spot the varied wildlife.

If you want to get into running try the Newport parkrun at Tredegar. These are held every Saturday morning at 9am, meeting in the car park. Finish by rewarding yourself in the Brewhouse tea-room.