Winter walks from the National Trust that make for a ridiculously pretty day out

The National Trust and National Trust for Scotland care for hundreds of walking trails in beautiful locations across the UK.

They can make for a brilliant day out too from the historic mansions and impressive stately homes that are found nestled amidst the landscape, to the magnificent landscaped gardens and woodlands that make up the countryside.

It's time to blow away the cobwebs on these bracing coastal hikes and picturesque pathways through their historic parklands and gardens.

Check out some of the best National Trust walks you won't want to miss out on over the winter months…

England

Blickling Estate, Norfolk

Blickling’s Jacobean mansion and ancient yew hedges sit at the heart of a magnificent garden and park in the Bure Meadows. The lake walk is particularly atmospheric in winter with the ­reflections and big open skies.

Barn owls can be seen hunting across the park and finches can be found marauding through the trees. Try the accessible multi-use trail, which leads through woodland. Adult £12, child £6.

Mottisfont, Hampshire

Set among riverside gardens, this house and gallery is at its most beautiful with a sprinkling of frost. Walk through the winter gardens filled with richly coloured dogwood, silvery ornamental bramble and flowering shrubs.

Look out for hellebores and mahonia, sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle, witch hazel, viburnum and daphne. Then follow the River Test out to meadows beyond the gardens, from where you can take in views of the house. Adult £16, child £8.

Hidcote, Gloucestershire

Whatever the season, there’s always something interesting to see on walks through the gardens designed by Lawrence Johnston. Set in the Cotswold hills, the magnificent estate is divided into individual “outdoor rooms”. Stroll through the Old Garden and don’t miss the tranquil Italian Shelter near the bathing pool. Adult £9, child £4.50.

Belton House, Lincolnshire

On crisp, frosty days, Belton is a delight. At this time of year, one of the best views is from the top of the slope to the Old Wood, which is best reached on the three-mile Belton Park walk.

There are often sheep grazing across the parkland, and the deer never leave, so keep dogs on short leads. Adult £8, child £4.

Buckland Abbey, Devon

A day out that’s steeped in 700 years of history, from the Cistercians who built the abbey and farmed the estate to the seafarers Grenville and Drake.

There are walking trails showcasing the best seasonal colour including Beech Avenue, at its best with gold and orange leaves overhead and underfoot, offering views over the Tavy valley. Crunch along woodland paths through towering oaks and beeches in Great North Wood. Adult £12, child £6.

Studland Bay, Dorset

Four miles of beaches line the sheltered waters of Studland Bay. Backed by heath and dune systems, the sands stretch from the boundary of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site at Old Harry Rocks north to Shell Bay.

A chain ferry provides a link to Poole and Bournemouth. Winter wildlife includes sanderlings dashing along the water’s edge and following the waves up and down. Take a stroll down to Middle Beach where a small flock of brent geese are a common sight. Free.

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

Carved out of the ancient forests of Sherwood, this beautiful parkland, heath and woods covers more than 3,800 acres. Once the country estate of the Dukes of Newcastle, there are many glimpses of its grand past to explore.

Walking routes around the lake are extra special in winter, especially on misty mornings when fog surrounds the Gothic chapel. Adult £5, child £2.50.

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Walk through the parkland’s tree-covered avenues, smell the “burnt sugar” scent of candyfloss coming from the katsura trees along the canal and listen out for the resident herd of fallow deer.

The Stables restaurant serves warming foods, from soup to luxury pumpkin spice lattes. Adult £8, child £4.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorks

Walk down the path from the visitor centre and come face to face with some of the oldest abbey ruins in the country. From the abbey, follow the banks of the River Skell down to the 18th century Water Garden, which has been channelled into canals, cascades and tranquil moon ponds.

From here, riverside paths lead to the deer park, home to red, fallow and sika deer and ancient trees. Adult £17, child £8.50.

Souter Lighthouse, Tyne and Wear

Hooped in red and white, Souter Lighthouse stands proudly on the coastline midway between the Tyne and the Wear.

Once the site of a busy mining community, these cliffs are now home to seabirds. Walk north and discover The Leas with its wildflower meadows or head south to the Whitburn Coastal Park. Adult £7.50, child £3.75.

Speke Hall, Garden and Estate, Liverpool

This rare Tudor timber-framed manor house is surrounded by restored gardens and woodland on the banks of the River Mersey.

Take the estate walk for views of the Wirral, North Wales and Liverpool’s skyline. A walk up the Bund offers glimpses of the hall through trees before spring arrives. Adult £9.80, child £4.90.

Wales

Chirk Castle, Wrexham

Discover 480 acres of meadow, grassland and woodland, full of ancient trees that look stunning against a wintry landscape. On a crisp, clear day on the Old Golf Walk you can see the Forest of Bowland 70 miles to the north, and the Peak District 65miles to the east. Adult £14, child £7.

Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire

For the purple sheen of silver birch and wild deer walking through the mist, you can’t beat a climb up to the Triumphal Arch and on to Satnall Hills. With the dieback of undergrowth, it’s easier to spot the creatures that normally use it for cover.

In early evenings, you can spy foxes skulking between hedgerows while barn owls patrol the parkland looking for prey. Head to the arboretum for winter aconites and Lichfield Plantation for snowdrops. Adult £12, child £6.

Plas Newydd House and Garden, Anglesey

This is one of the best times of year to enjoy the unspoilt view from Plas Newydd across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia.

There are 150 acres of gardens, woods and parkland — the Australasian arboretum is particularly lovely. The only locations off limits to canine companions are the house and the Terraced Garden, where precise planting demands it is a paw-free zone. Adult £7, child £3.50.

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire

Footpaths stretch down from the former grand estate, Stackpole Court, across dramatic cliffs to some of the most beautiful coastline in the world, including Broadhaven South, Barafundle Bay and Stackpole Quay.

The famous Bosherston Lakes were created 200 years ago to provide a backdrop to Stackpole Court. In winter they welcome wildfowl, such as goosander (look out for the females with their vibrant ginger heads) and speckled grey gadwall. Free.

Northern Ireland

Castle Ward, County Down

Strolling along trails through this 820-acre walled demesne takes you through woodland, parkland and gardens with views over Strangford Lough. The 18th century house – gothic on one facade and Palladian on the other – and farmyard doubled up as Game Of Thrones’ Winterfell. Adult £10, child £5.

Rowallane Garden, County Down

A mix of formal and informal spaces with many unusual vistas and unique plants from across the world. Take a stroll among winter-flowering viburnums, mahonia and the fragrant flowers of witch hazel. Also look out for sarcococca; otherwise aptly known as the Christmas box, with its strong scent. Adult £8.50, child £4.25.

Scotland

Pollok House and Country Park, Glasgow

The cedar-panelled smoking room of Pollok House is where discussions for founding the National Trust for Scotland took place in 1931.

One of the grandest in its care, the surrounding country park is the perfect spot for a frosty stomp, then warm up with a delicious hot drink in the house afterwards. Adult £8.50, child £6.

House of Dun, Montrose

Set between Aberdeen and Dundee, this beautiful estate has several walks, from woodlands to waterfalls and barrows to the Montrose Basin, which comes to life in winter when tens of thousands of pink-footed geese arrive from Greenland and Iceland. Adult £13.50, concessions £11.

Dollar Glen, Clackmannanshire

This beautiful stretch of woodland lies east of Stirling and is ensconced in the shadow of the Ochil Hills. Wander the banks of the Burns of Sorrow and Care and see Castle Campbell, the 15th-century stronghold of the Earls of Argyll, overlooking the gorges. Green woodpeckers, dippers and nuthatches live in the wooded gorges, plus it is a nationally important location for lichens and ferns. Free.

  • For more information visit the National Trust and National Trust for Scotland websites.

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