National Walking Month – 10 spring walks to enjoy in the UK

With winter over and warmer, sunnier weather on the way, spring is a fantastic time of year to blow away the winter cobwebs and get out into the countryside for a spring walk.

From woodland to open countryside, coastal walks to picturesque villages, the UK is home to a number of fantastic walks that will allow you to enjoy the region’s abundant flora and fauna while getting a healthy dose of fresh air.

1. Walk the Cotswolds Way

Head west and enjoy all that Gloucestershire’s Cotswold Way has to offer. The route is 100 miles in total, running all the way from Bath to Chipping Campden. Depending on which part of the route you choose to walk, you will be able to visit Snowshill Manor, the iconic Broadway Tower, Sudeley Castle and Hailes, which is home to the ruins of a stunning abbey.

2. Daffodils in the Dales

Lovers of spring flowers will enjoy the Daffodil Walk in Farndale, North Yorkshire. This one and a half mile walk sees around 40,000 daff lovers each year see the carpet of bright flowers (reputedly planted by medieval monks of Rievaulx Abbey).

3. The South Downs Way

Those looking for lowland walking may enjoy a trip to the South Downs in Sussex, and the popular South Downs Way. One of the most popular South Downs Way routes is the ascent up to Chanctonbury Ring: the remains of a hill fort from the Iron Age which is circled with a ring of beech trees.

4. The Three Shires

For a longer walk through the countryside of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, the Three Shires Way is a 49 mile walk passing through beautiful rural areas and takes in picturesque historic villages including Shelton, Knotting and Lavendon.

5. Wales Millennium Coastal Path

If you would prefer a bracing coastal walk, head to Wales and the Millennium Coastal Path in Llanelli. This 22 mile stretch of pathway is completely traffic free, open to pedestrians and cyclists only, and takes in both coastline and stunning woodland.

6.The Wyre Forest

One of the largest ancient woodlands in England, spring in the Wyre Forest, on the border of Worcestershire and Shropshire, sees the forest come to life with seas of celandines, daffodils and bluebells – there’s also a Go Ape adventure course if you fancy an aerial view!

7. The Sizergh Castle Estate

Bird watchers should head to Cumbria where, at the Sizergh Castle estate, they may be able to catch a glimpse of the haw finch. The Sizergh Wildlife Walk also gives walkers a chance to see the estate’s hornbeam trees, various woodland flowers and great views.

8. Hiking in the Highlands

Use spring as a time to enjoy the Knoydart Peninsula in the Scottish Highlands, separated from the rest of Scotland by an imposing ring of mountains. Visitors must make the sea crossing from Mallaig, with guided walks and tours for those unfamiliar with this beautiful, wild location.

9. A Yorkshire Ramble

Enjoy the Hardcastle Crags woodland wildlife walk just west of Halifax in Yorkshire. With beautiful birds returning from warmer shores, animals coming out of hibernation and trees and flowers coming back to life, you can enjoy a gentle ramble and stunning views.

10. The Norfolk Coast Path

The Norfolk Coast Path is the perfect place to dust off the winter cobwebs, with bracing sea air, sand dunes and salt marshes. The Coasthopper bus service can take you from location to location, and bird watchers can enjoy guided bird walks arranged by the RSPB.

Celebrate National Walking Month

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Rhossili Bay: “Breathtakingly wonderful” seems like an understatement!

If you want to really feel alive and refresh those senses this summer, it’s time to get outside and start walking. This month is National Walking Month, and here in the UK we are extremely lucky; the terrain makes it the perfect place to walk. Whether you want a gentle, family stroll, or you are an experienced walker looking for your next challenge, our list of favourite scenic walks has something for everyone.

Easy or family walks

Rhossili Bay
Distance: 5 miles circular route
Starting point: Rhossili National Trust visitor centre
Suitable for walkers with little experience and families
Map

Rhossili Bay is such a stunning area it has earned itself the number 1 place to visit in Swansea on the independent review website, Trip advisor. Visitors to the area have left reviews on the website describing the area as “Paradise” and “Breathtakingly wonderful”.

But don’t worry. Despite the fact that 750,000 people visit Rhossilli every year, this beautiful walk never seems too busy and it’s the perfect walk for all the family. It covers moorland and one of the most glorious sandy beaches in the UK. It even has its very own shipwreck visible at low tide, the ill fated Helvetia that has been there since 1887.

From the highest point of this walk, you can see an uninterrupted 360 degree of the entire tip of the Gower Peninsula including Worms Head and Burry Holmes. On a clear day, you can even see as far as Devon.

Getting there: Catch the bus to this beautiful bay from Swansea, or you can drive and park in the National Trust visitor centre.

Wye Downs (using part of the popular North Downs Way)
Distance: 4.5 miles
Starting point: Church in Wye
Map 

Get to know the beautiful Wye Downs by following paths and tracks through open fields and luscious woodland. On this walk you will get the chance to see the fantastic Wye Crown, a massive crest that students cut into the chalk hillside in 1902 to honour the coronation of King Edward VII.

You will also pass through the Wye National Nature Reserve with its beautiful landscape of chalk, woodland and scrub. Moths, insects and orchids that are essential to conservation efforts have made their home here. From the nature reserve you will get the chance to take in enthralling views of the Devil’s Kneading Trough, a 260 feet deep steep dry valley.

On the way back, make sure you take time to look around the historic village of Wye and stop off at one of the pubs for a rewarding, refreshing drink

Ben A’an
Distance: 2.5 miles
Height: 1,491 feet
Start: 200 yards west of Tigh Mhor near Loch Achray
Map

The extraordinary views over the Trossachs and Loch Katrine from the summit of Ben A’an are what makes this walk unbeatable. Although relatively short, this walk involves steep climbs through woodland and steep steps on loose rock, so it’s more suited to those with a good level of fitness. Don’t worry though, it also covers easier terrain you can meander through and enjoy the stunning views while catching your breath.

Along the path there are large rock areas often used by picnickers. You will also find steep, rocky trails that offshoot from the main path, ignore these and stick to the main path. Typically, it takes about an hour to reach the summit, though if you’re really fit you can do it in much less.

The path ends at 1,491 feet at two rocky peaks, both of which give enthralling views across two vast landscapes of Scotland, west over Loch Katrine towards the ‘Arrochar Alps’ and and south east over Loch Achray towards the Campsies. If you’re lucky, you may even see the Sir Walter Scott steamer as she travels across Loch Katrine. One thing to remember is that this walk does get busy at times, but its popularity is just testimony to how beautiful it is.

Getting there: There is a car park A821 near Tigh Mor opposite the track.

For the more experienced walker

Dunskey Castle at Portpatrick

Dunskey Castle at Portpatrick

Southern Upland Way
Distance: 214 mile (340 km) coast to coast
Starting point: Portpatrick
Map 

Often overlooked for other Scottish walks such as the West Highland Way, The Southern Upland Way is a stunning, if rather tough, walk. It begins in Portpatrick, a small fishing village on the Scottish west coast and finishes in Cockburnspath on the east coast.

At 214 miles, this walk isn’t the longest in the UK, but is known as one of the toughest. Overwhelming mountains, thick forests and beautiful moors make up this enchanting walk. There is accommodation en route, however this walk is rather isolated and you won’t stumble across many day trippers or holiday makers on your way. The walk visits stunning spots such as Castle Kennedy, St John’s Town of Dalry, St Mary’s Loch, Galashiels, Lauder and Longformacus en route.

It’s worth remembering that on the Southern Upland Way the path can be challenging with a loose, steep, rocky and muddy surface. Hill walking boots are a must!

The Great South West Walks – loving the South West Coast Path!

Last week Bill Brown, one of our intrepid Regional Managers, completed the cottages4you sponsored New Polzeath Coastal Conservation Walk, organised by the South West Coast Path Association.

The event was just one of many organised as part of Great South West Walks 2014, a celebration of the South West Coast Path comprised of 100 popular circular walks around the Coast Path in Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.

You can see a few of Bill’s brilliant photos below. If you fancy taking part, or learning more about the great work that the South West Coast Path Association do to preserve this beautiful stretch of Britain, then head over to their website and get involved!

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Bill (centre) with guide Justin Seedhouse (red jacket) and other intrepid walkers

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Some of the stunning scenery on offer

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Peppercombe to Bucks Mills is one of the region’s most popular walks

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

We teamed up with our friends at Hoseasons and Canvas Holidays to tackle Yorkshire’s Three Peaks this weekend, raising much-needed funds for the Three Peaks Project in the process. Great (dry!) weather made for ideal walking conditions and a really fun (though exhausting!) day. Find more info on the Three Peaks Project on their website.

The UK’s favourite footpaths

We’ve teamed up with Walk4Life to find the UK’s favourite footpaths and encourage families and walkers of all abilities to take to their feet and enjoy a walking weekend.

With late autumn the perfect time of the year to get out and see Britain in all its beauty, this collection of best loved routes will suit everyone from budding ramblers to families looking to make the most of a healthy break in the countryside! And in the interest of ultimate rest and relaxation, we’ve also added holiday cottage suggestions under each one.

Now, without further ado, here are the UK’s top five favourite walks…

1. Bath Skyline (See route in walk4life)

The most popular walk on the National Trust website.  The route takes just under six miles of stunning views over the historical city of bath.  Walkers can make a weekend of it by staying in Rose Cottage in Bathampton (ref EKH). A delightful 45-minute walk along the towpath from historic Bath.  This attractive and comfortable property enjoys lovely private views over the Kennet and Avon canal from its patio garden.

2. Alderley Edge (see route on walk4life)

This walk is a four mile route for the more sure-footed walker, taking in spectacular views over the Cheshire landscape with woodland and steep slopes.  The Hoseshoe Cottage in Somerford (ref RBBY) offers a welcome retreat for weary walkers.  Set within two-acres of landscaped and unspoilt natural grounds with paddock, the property enjoys views over open countryside and offers walking and cycling from the doorstep.  This luxury holiday property even has its own hot tub perfect for resting tired feet!

3. Boudicca Way (see route)

A long distance footpath that is perfect for discovering history in the Norfolk countryside. If you don’t have time to make it round the full 36 mile route, why not try a section to whet the appetite.  Tucked away completely off the beaten track, Turnpike Cottage in New Buckenham (ref CRW) compliments the rich historical surroundings.  The 18th-century thatched cottage exudes immense charm with an open fire and exposed beams, making it an ideal romantic retreat.

 4. Furzton Lake (see route on walk4life)

This is a circular 1.5 mile route around Furzton Lake in Milton Keynes. Yew Tree Cottage (ref 26115) in the village of Yardley Gobion in Towcester makes good use its rural location with easy access to the city amenities and walk at Milton Keynes. The perfect base to explore the surrounding area with many good walking and cycle routes available, Yew Tree Cottage was originally three cottages built in the 1850s, maintaining its historic charm.

5. Cheddar Reservoir Circular (see route on walk4life)

This is an easy three mile stroll providing a perfect loop around the picturesque reservoir with its boating and wildlife. Why not stay at Hollie’s Cottage in Draycott near Cheddar (ref 90141).  Cosy and charming, this stone holiday cottage, complete with beams, a woodburner and spiral staircase, boasts much period character.  The area is famed for its gorge and caves and for those looking for a more robust walking experience, offers access to excellent walking on the Mendip Hills.