Make your Boxing Day sparkle with a walk in a wood

After a day of indulgence, Merry Christmas Everybody on repeat or the kids starting to climb the walls, Boxing Day is a great time to escape outdoors – and where better than the UK’s glorious woods?

Outdoor adventurer Julia Bradbury, who runs The Outdoor Guide, has joined with us to compile her top ten list of woodland walks.

In winter, woods take on a whole new character - spectacular, frosty landscapes, perfect for enjoying nature’s sights and sounds while burning off some of those extra calories!

Crunch through frosty leaves, discover ancient hidden history or spot some elusive wildlife – a Boxing Day woodland walk could spring up surprises you’ll never forget. Of course a visit is free and you’ll feel great afterwards too.

 

1. Hainault Forest, London

Ancient hornbeam pollards, majestic wellingtonia avenues and herds of red deer are the hidden treasures to be found in three country parks – all within 15 miles of central London.

View walks of 2.5, 6 or 10 miles.

2. Great Knott Wood, Cumbria

On the banks of Lake Windermere, this ancient woodland has been a working wood for centuries. The walk may be started from car parks at High Dam where you can arrive by steam train along the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railways.

View a walk of 5.5 miles.

Ledmore and Migdale Wood in Scotland is one of the finest in the UK for wildlife spotting (Photo: John MacPherson/WTML)
Ledmore and Migdale Wood in Scotland is one of the finest in the UK for wildlife spotting (Photo: John MacPherson/WTML)

3. Nidd Gorge, North Yorkshire

Ancient broadleaf woodland covers the steep cliffs and slopes of Yorkshire’s Nidd Gorge, which is home to more than 80 species of bird and 30 different kinds of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Take a stroll through the crisp winter wonderland and keep your eye out for roe deer, tawny owls, herons and woodpeckers.

View walks of 4.5, 6.25 or 7 miles

4. Ledmore and Migdale Wood, Scottish Highlands

These woods in Spinningdale on the Dornoch Firth go back many thousands of years, and with the possibility of spotting an otter, pine marten or even an elusive black grouse, they are one of the finest wildlife woods you will find. There are over six miles of tracks and paths to explore. Wrap up warm, pack up a winter picnic and head out in search of breathtaking views.

View walks of 4.5, 6.5 or 9 miles

5. Hucking Estate, Kent

This large and engaging site offers a mix of ancient woodland, planted secondary woodland and open grassland, together with woodland archaeology remains, wonderful walks, interesting wildlife and breathtaking views. It's set in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

View walks of 4.25, 6.5 or 7.5 miles

There's something magical about woodland in winter (Photo: Mick House/WTML)
There's something magical about woodland in winter (Photo: Mick House/WTML)

6. Brede High Woods, East Sussex

This stunning mosaic of ancient and secondary woodland, open heathland and acid grassland is located on the north-east shore of Powdermill Reservoir in East Sussex, in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

View walks of 5 and 7.5 miles

7. Pepper Wood, Worcestershire

A mere mile from the M5 lies a fragment of medieval England. It’s still managed much as it was 500 years ago.

View a walk of 8 miles

8. Tring Park, Hertfordshire 

Explore one of the largest areas of unimproved chalk grassland in the county, at this tranquil site just a 10-minute walk from Tring’s Natural History Museum. There are open vistas with great views, so remember to wear those woollies!

View walks of 3.5 or 8.5 miles

Winter walkers get some fresh air and exercise in Tring Park (Photo: Nick Spurling/WTML)
Winter walkers get some fresh air and exercise in Tring Park (Photo: Nick Spurling/WTML)

9. Carnmoney Hill, Northern Ireland

Stalked by ghosts of the Vikings, witches and highwaymen, a walk on Carnmoney Hill offers balcony views of Belfast. It can be pretty chilly though so wrap up warm.

View a walk of 8.5 miles

10. Coed y Gopa, Clwyd, Wales

Coed y Gopa is an ancient woodland with a fascinating past. Explore its secrets using the waymarked heritage and wildlife trails and enjoy magnificent views across the vale. The limestone caves are one of the country’s largest winter hibernation sites for lesser horseshoe bats. Climb up to the Iron Age hillfort on the summit.

View a walk of 7.5 miles

Feeling inspired?

Find your nearest woods