Christmas can be tiring. But don’t let the dark days and onslaught of Christmas hits on the radio get you down. It’s the perfect time to wrap up warm, throw on some wellies and get out on an invigorating winter walk.
What better way to celebrate the festive season? Blow away the December cobwebs while rambling through stunning wintry woodlands and manicured gardens, along icy river banks and lakes, or take a stroll through frosty countryside and keep your eyes peeled for seasonal wildlife.
Whichever route you choose, there’s something to suit all tastes.
With the help of its supporters, the National Trust cares for hundreds of walking trails in beautiful locations all across the country.
Here we list five of the best walking trails at National Trust properties across Surrey and Hampshire to get the new year off to a good start and give you a spring in your step during the cold winter months.
* Winkworth Arboretum, near Godalming
Nestled on a hillside in the heart of Surrey, Winkworth’s wintry woodland is the perfect spot for a quiet walk in the crisp, clean air. With a mixture of level walkways and challenging hills, there’s a route for everyone and dogs on leads are welcome.
If you’re looking for some exercise, avoid the dull repetition of the treadmill, fill your lungs with fresh air and enjoy the sights of the arboretum as you walk or jog.
Take a break at the boathouse for a stunning view of the lake as the trees shimmer in the clear water. Warm up with a latte or hot chocolate from the café among the trees.
* Hinton Ampner, near Alresford
With acres of parkland and woods, Hinton Ampner is a great place for a winter walk. Four downloadable walks introduce you to this picturesque estate and its splendid views. Landscapes include the pretty local village of Kilmeston and fields that were once the scene of a great Civil War battle.
* Box Hill, near Dorking
Nothing beats getting out of the house for a bracing winter walk, and what better place to do this than on the famous slopes of Box Hill? Known for its expansive views and woodland walks, Box Hill is also great for a family outing, where kids can wear themselves out on the natural play trail, which includes dens and balance beams.
Settle down in the café afterwards with a Box Hill flapjack and a pot of tea. Find 12 downloadable walks on the website, in and around Box Hill, recommended by Rangers, one for each of the 12 days of Christmas.
* Geocaching at Hatchlands Park, East Clandon
Hatchlands Park is one of the largest country estates in the green belt. It’s also a great place to try geocaching. Geocaching is a treasure hunt for the digital generation, an outdoor hobby that you can follow all over the world. A geocache, or cache, is a waterproof container hidden outdoors and containing small items of treasure for you to find. All you need is a smartphone or GPS device and a sense of adventure.
Treat yourself afterwards to a coffee from the Kitchen Café.
* The Vyne, near Basingstoke
This is a great place to beat the winter blues and build up fitness levels. Acres of fields and woodland await you and there are beautiful views everywhere you look.
Try the winter woodland trail for a great introduction to the estate.
Look out for the cosy bird hide overlooking wetlands brimming with migrating winter birds.
For more ideas for winter days out, including opening times and entry fees, visit nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/winter-walks-in-surrey or nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/winter-walks-in-hampshire.