What a difference a few days make. Not only have we seen a drop in temperature from the delightfully unseasonal spring weather we’ve been enjoying, but we’ve also experienced a mini fuel panic and controversy over the price and relative temperature of bakers’ goods.
But fret not; while some have been worrying about how to arrive at their destination (not to mention the price of warm pastry products when they get there!) our friends at Country Life magazine have recently published a guide to 16 UK walks to lift the sprit. What’s more they have allowed us to feature a few of them on the cottages4you blog. If you fancy reading the full list then take a look at the new issue (cover above). You can also take advantage of some great subscription offers on their website.
Around St Anthony Head
Take the cheerful little ferry from St Mawes to Place Quay south Cornwall (it runs April 1–November 4), visit the church on the beach and then follow the path around the promontory (6 miles).
Why it’s uplifting Seeing boats bobbing on the majestic Fal estuary and swimming at Porthbeor beach, only accessible on foot.
Need to know The National Trust-run St Anthony Head boasts a Second World War observation post, bird hide, light- house and exemplary loos.
Tea Seasonal tea garden at St Anthony Head
Crowcombe to Holford, Quantock Hills, Somerset
Start on top of the hill at Crowcombe Park Gate, head north through bracken and heather and drop down one of the wooded combes, where you should see red deer, to Holford (about 6 miles round trip).
Why it’s uplifting The infinite variety of sea and vale, forest and heather, green and purple skylines—Exmoor to the west, Wales to the north—is almost overwhelming, so allow standing and staring time. Wordsworth did: ‘On springy heath, along the hill-top edge/Wander in gladness and wind down, perchance/To that still roaring dell.’
Need to know Wordsworth and Coleridge walked from Holford to Crowcombe and back, a strenuous uphill pull.
Pub The Plough, Holford (01278 741232) or The Carew Arms, Crowcombe (01984 618631; www.thecarewarms.co.uk).
‘Military Meadows’, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire
Summertime, grassland walk from Heytesbury to the atmospheric abandoned village of Imber and back (8–10 miles, depending on route).
Why it’s uplifting The public is only allowed on the plain at certain times, when the army isn’t using it (01980 674763; www.mod.uk), which gives it a frisson of daring. The pastoral beauty contrasts with the ugliness of war—burnt-out hulks of tanks used for target practice.
Need to know The village of Imber was evacuated in 1943 so American troops could use it; despite attempts to reclaim it, it remains in Ministry of Defence hands. It’s spooky, even on a summer’s day.
Pub The Angel, Heytesbury (01985 840330; www.theangelheytesbury.co.uk).
Dinas Island, Newport, Pembrokeshire
Circular walk around Dinas Head, starting at Cwm-yr-Eglwys (3 miles).
Why it’s uplifting Dramatic, rugged views, seabirds nesting, and the possibility of seeing porpoises off Needle Rock.
Need to know The ‘island’ is really a promontory that became semi-detached from the mainland during an Ice Age.
Pub The ancient Old Sailor’s Inn, Pwllgwaelod Beach (01348 811491).
Holkham Beach, north Norfolk
Park in Lady Anne’s Drive off the A149, walk down to the beach and take off as far as you want in either direction. You could turn right to Wells-next-the-Sea, returning through the pines (about 4 miles).
Why it’s uplifting The ultimate, wind-in your hair, winter beach, voted Best British Beach in 2011. The horizon is vast enough for both the solitary and the gregarious.
Need to know There’s a naturist area.
Pub The Victoria Hotel (01328 711008; www.holkham.co.uk) or hunker down in the dunes with a picnic and watch the birds.
Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland
Park in the castle car park and walk down to the beach. Head north and swing back towards the village inland. The castle is always in sight, so you can choose your distance—the round trip to Budle Bay is about four miles.
Why it’s inspiring The castle and its proud position is an irresistible landmark in every light.
Need to know Lighthouse-keeper’s daughter Grace Darling, heroine of the SS Forfarshire shipwreck in 1838, is buried here.
Tea Copper Kettle Tearooms (01668 214315; www.copperkettletearooms.com).
Haweswater/Mardale Head, Cumbria
Drive up the valley road from Bampton until you reach the end of the Haweswater, a manmade lake—although it doesn’t look like one—built to supply Manchester. Walk up to Blea Water, and then keep climbing, up to Kidsty Pike and the Roman Road— if you’re lucky, you’ll see a golden eagle.
Why it’s uplifting The further you go, the better it gets, so much so that you have to make a conscious effort to turn around.
Need to know In dry years, eerie traces of the drowned village of Mardale emerge from the receding waters.
Picnic Anywhere that looks onto the water.
Coln St Aldwyns to Bibury, Gloucestershire
An almost flat or downhill stroll along a chalkstream valley (2 miles).
Why it’s uplifting A Constable-esque landscape, more mellow than exhilarating, of grazing sheep and water meadows.
Need to know Buy day tickets locally for trout-fishing (below) on the River Coln or visit www.goflyfishinguk.com.
Pub Bibury Court has a hotel bar at which walkers are welcome (01285 740337; www.biburycourt.co.uk).