Fun pre-Christmas winter walks – 8 fantastic parks and historic gardens

Don’t be a couch potato in the run up to Christmas, get out and explore with our fantastic winter walk picks.
Wallington - winter walks
Winter walks: National Trust parks have something for all families.

The National Trust cares for hundreds of trails in beautiful locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Here is our pick of the best winter walks at this time of year.

Head to the coast for dramatic grey skies and thundering waves, blow away the cobwebs with clifftop walks and mountain climbs or follow inviting paths through frost-sprinkled parkland and historic gardens. Some trails are more accessible than others, so be sure to check with the venue before embarking on winter walks. 

Scotney castle in Kent. Winter walks.
Winter walks: Beautiful grounds of Scotney Castle in Kent.

South East – Scotney Castle, Kent

The views back to the Old Castle from the Scotney estate are timeless and capture the setting that inspired the owners to build the mansion high up above. Follow the blue or red-topped posts on a stroll around the many acres of parkland, woodland and waterways to discover a stone bridge, beech avenue (NB beech avenue is on red route not blue route) and even Second World War bomb craters.

The hard paths in the garden lead down to the castle ruin, past flashes of colour from the red and orange whips of dogwood and snowy white patches of heather.

Take in the majestic view back up to the house before heading up to the café for a warming drink. Garden paths are mostly accessible for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and buggies with some steep slopes. A winter garden guide highlighting the stars of the season, and map of accessible route are available from visitor reception.

Two manual wheelchairs are available to reserve in advance. 

Dogs are welcome on short leads in the estate, garden, shop and outdoor seating area for the tea-room. The car park gets busy so please pre-book your parking to guarantee entry.

For more information visit Scotney Castle, Kent.

Saltram house - winter walks
Winter walks: Saltram house dressed for Christmas | © National Trust Images/John Millar

South West – Saltram, Devon

Saltram overlooks the River Plym and is set in a rolling landscape park that provides precious green space on the outskirts of Plymouth. Strolling along the riverside or through the woodland, you can almost forget that the city lies so close. Ready to blow away the cobwebs and get some fresh air?

The garden is open every day from 10am and is perfect for a gentle stroll amongst the snowdrops and cyclamen. For a more adventurous walk there’s plenty to choose from in the park and the team in the Welcome Centre will be happy to provide you a map of the estate with riverside, dell and boundary walks helpfully marked out for you.

The Park Café is open daily from 10am-4pm to reward you with a warm drink and tasty treat after a blustery stroll.

Accessible and disabled parking available. There are level paths in garden suitable for wheelchairs. All-terrain tramper available to book, please email [email protected] to book.

  • Multi-use trail
  • Assistance dogs only for house and garden entry

For more information visit Saltram, Devon

Wimpole - Winter walks. © National Trust Images - Justin Minns.
Winter walks: Wimpole offers a 5.5 miles circular trail around the estate.

East of England – Wimpole, Cambridgeshire

Wimpole Estate has 600 acres of parkland to explore. Discover the landscape park, the rare-breed cattle and walk through grand avenues,  enjoying the far-reaching views across a winter landscape. Wimpole’s multi-use trail provides an off-road circular route around the estate, providing even more opportunities to explore the parkland.

The trail is 5.5 miles, or 8.5 kilometres long. Intended for walkers, runners, cyclists and adapted wheelchair users, it’s great for families looking for an easy, safe route that can get them active and enjoying time outside together.

Dogs are welcome in the Parkland, Stables area and outdoor terrace at the Old Rectory restaurants.

  • 5 powered mobility scooters are available to borrow from the Visitor Centre
  • Multi-use trail

For more information visit Wimpole, Cambridgeshire.

Longshaw. Winter walks.
Winter walks: Azure blue skies above Longshaw in the Peak District.

MidlandsLongshaw, Burbage and the Eastern Moors, Derbyshire

A countryside haven on Sheffield’s doorstep, Longshaw is a gateway to the Peak District, home to ancient woods, parkland and heather moorland. Walking at Longshaw can be a stroll to the pond, an easy-to-follow waymarked walk or a serious hike. Stop in at the Welcome Building when you visit for advice on routes or to pick up a map. Seasonal trails and spotter sheets for families will also be available. After your walk, warm up in the award-winning Longshaw café, and enjoy spectacular moorland views through floor to ceiling windows.

Keeping your dog on a lead in the Peak District ensures that wildlife, livestock and other visitors are safe. If you ever feel threatened in a situation with your dog with livestock close by, it is advised to release the lead, and reach safety separately.

For more information visit Longshaw, Burbage and the Eastern Moors, Derbyshire.

Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire. Winter walks.
Winter walks:

Yorkshire and North East – Nostell, West Yorkshire

Nostell is a masterpiece of 18th-century architecture and is filled with exceptional paintings and antiques. In the 300-acre estate and gardens you can enjoy lakeside walks, parkland, and meadows. Many of the paths around the lawns, pleasure grounds and lakes are suitable for mobility scooters, wheelchairs and pushchairs. While on Nostell’s cycling trails you can discover parts of the estate’s woodland on a 4km figure-of-eight loop featuring two bike-only sections: one for beginners and one for those with a little more experience.

Dogs are welcome almost everywhere in the parkland at Nostell, but must be kept on a short lead at busy areas (dogs not welcome in the garden)

  • Multi-use trail
  • Mobility scooter rental available (bookable). Changing Places, baby change and disabled toilets in the courtyard.

Click here for more information about winter walks at Nostell, West Yorkshire.

Dunham Massey - winter walks
Winter walks: Dunham Massey in Cheshire.

North West  – Dunham Massey, Cheshire

The gardens at this Georgian estate near Manchester are bursting with colour well into winter. Walk through the parkland’s tree-covered avenues, smell the familiar “burnt sugar” scent of candyfloss coming from the katsura trees along the canal and listen out for the resident herd of fallow deer among the rustling of the leaves underfoot. The Stables restaurant serves a variety of warming foods, from soup to luxury pumpkin spice lattes.

Dogs welcome in the parkland (from 9.30am) and gardens (after 12pm)

PMVs and wheelchairs are available to hire in advance

For more information visit Dunham Massey, Cheshire

The Argory, County Armagh - winter walks.
Winter walks: The Argory in County Armagh.

Northern Ireland – The Argory, County Armagh  

This hillside Irish gentry house was built in the 1820s, set overlooking the River Blackwater. Pack your binoculars and take a stroll down to the river and you might be rewarded with the sight of a kingfisher. You can also visit the second-hand bookshop, adventure playground and Courtyard Coffee Shop which provide retreats for children and adults alike.

Balance bikes and helmets are available to hire from visitor reception. You don’t need to book anything, and the balance bikes are free to use – just turn up and get going.

A mobility scooter is available from reception. Most walks are accessible, as any steep slopes have alternative routes.

Dogs are very welcome on leads in the grounds, and we have a dedicated dog exercise area, but unfortunately dogs can’t visit the house or café.. If you walk towards the jetty and turn left along the path alongside the River Blackwater, you will find the dog exercise area at the end of this trail.

For more information visit The Argory, County Armagh.

Dinefwr tower - winter walks
Winter walks: The ruins of Dinefwr castle near the town of Llandeilo.

Wales – Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire

The parkland at Dinefwr is steeped in Welsh history, covering an 800-acre estate on the outskirts of the old farming town of Llandeilo. Visit this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the first parkland National Nature Reserve (NNR) in Wales.

The Ragwen Point walk leads to a clifftop with views across Carmarthen Bay and takes in fascinating local history along the way. Or why not try the ‘Capability’ Brown walk at Dinefwr, which takes you beside historic ancient trees on a circular route through a landscape created by the famed designer.

There’s still plenty of wildlife to see throughout the colder months. Keep your eyes peeled and you could catch a glimpse of some of Britain’s most elusive mammals and birds, such as otters and woodpeckers. At this time of year the male fallow deer (bucks) shed their antlers so you might see them while you’re out walking on the estate.

There is a long level boardwalk to the mill pond, but please note not all routes across the estate are level.

Dogs welcome but must be kept on a lead at all times.

For more information visit Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire.

Please check property webpages for full opening arrangements and admission prices.

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Tags: , Last modified: December 20, 2022

Written by 3:14 pm Outdoor leisure, Home & Lifestyle