Scenic walks to blow the cobwebs away. Family friendly walks, dog walks and great views, we list the best walks in the East of England.
With the ground crisp underfoot, and the air so cold you can see your breath, winter is the perfect time for an exhilarating walk. Morning mists and frost transform the bare landscape into a magical world to be explored throughout the season until the first snowdrops peep through and announce that spring is on its way.
Southwold to Walberswick, Suffolk (3 miles)
In a nutshell: This stroll starts on the sea front in Southwold, with its picturesque lighthouse and colourful beach huts, and heads south along Havenbeach Marshes to the River Blyth where you can follow a path along the harbour. Here you can cross the footbridge and follow the path back to the coast, passing along the beach, before turning into the pretty, unspoilt village of Walberswick.
Well-earned refreshment: In Walberswick, enjoy open fires and home-cooked meals at the 600-year-old Bell Inn, gastro-dining at the award-winning Anchor Inn or a lighter lunch and homemade cake at The Tea Shed.
Can I take my dog? Dogs are allowed on Walberswick Beach, and also Southwold Beach from October to March, but use a lead near the fenced off areas to protect the land-nesting birds. The Bell, Anchor and Tea Shed are all dog-friendly.
Download a map: www.gps-routes.co.uk
Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire (6.5 miles)
In a nutshell: An exhilarating circular walk from the Chilterns Gateway Centre across Dunstable Downs’ chalk grassland, with fantastic views and historical interest. The route takes you past Neolithic and Bronze Age burial mounds and an Iron Age hill fort and into the village of Totternhoe. Follow the bridleway to the base of the downs for an uphill climb with views of the Vale of Aylesbury and Ivinghoe Beacon before finishing back at the Centre.
Well-earned refreshment: The Old Farm Inn in Totternhoe, with open fires and log burners, is ideal for refuelling en route or enjoy a meal and snacks at the Gateway Centre’s View Cafe while watching the birds circle overhead.
Can I take my dog? The route is dog-friendly but keep them on a lead when passing through the fields where sheep may be grazing. The Old Farm Inn and View Café welcome dogs.
Download a map: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Milton Country Park, Cambridgeshire (95 acres)
In a nutshell: A country park, just a few miles north of Cambridge city centre, which is ideal for a winter’s day walk. With plenty of space to explore, easy parking, and pathways suitable for bikes and buggies, it’s a great option for the whole family. Created from old gravel pits, the park offers a varied natural habitat with lakes, grassy meadows and woodland, plus two children’s playgrounds to keep the little ones amused. Look out for the migratory birds that take up residence in the winter.
Well-earned refreshment: Treat yourself at Grounds, an independent café within the park, serving hot and cold drinks, handmade cakes, sandwiches, pastries, and artisan gelato.
Can I take my dog? Dogs are welcome throughout the park and in the café, although there are signposted areas where you’ll need to use a lead.
Download a map: www.miltoncountrypark.org
Hemel Hempstead to Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire (6.5 miles)
In a nutshell: A linear walk from station to station taking you along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal and then uphill along Hertfordshire Way, with beautiful views of the countryside. After passing through woodland on the edge of the Ashridge Estate, you’ll reach Berkhamsted Golf Club’s leafy fairways. Here you can follow a footpath which takes you past the remains of Berkhamsted Castle to the railway station.
Well-earned refreshment: The Three Horseshoes is a lovely old pub on the Grand Union Canal at Winkwell serving great burgers with a pint. At the end of your walk, head into Berkhamsted where there are plenty of restaurants and cafés.
Can I take my dog? Yes, although you may need a lead near the golf course and castle. The Three Horseshoes is a dog-friendly pub.
Download a map: www.ramblers.org.uk
Flitch Way, Essex (15 miles)
In a nutshell: Flitch Way is a former railway line, offering an easy terrain, perfect for winter walks. The traffic-free route runs through the beautiful Essex countryside from Braintree to Bishop’s Stortford but can, of course, be walked in smaller sections. With interesting sites along the way, including Victorian railway stations, Hatfield Forest, Great Notley Country Park, Rayne Station Visitor Centre and Museum, there’s plenty to see and do.
Well-earned refreshment: You can grab breakfast, lunch and snacks at the Booking Hall Café in Rayne and The Coffee Shop at Thremhall Park, Bishop’s Stortford. There are also lots of pubs and restaurants within a short walk of the Flitch Way.
Can I take my dog? Yes, Flitch Way is very popular with dog- walkers and dogs are welcome in both the Booking Hall Café and The Coffee Shop.
Download a map: www.visitessex.com
Horsey Windpump Walk, Norfolk (3.6 miles)
In a nutshell: A circular walk starting at Horsey Windpump Car Park which takes you across the broadland
to Horsey Beach. This stretch of the coast comes alive in the winter with hundreds of breeding grey seals. Enjoy a stroll along the beach until you reach Horsey Gap and then head into Horsey village, passing the church with its pretty thatched roof and round tower. Follow the main road back towards the Horsey Windpump, an iconic sight on the horizon of the broads’ landscape.
Can I take my dog? Only if you can keep them on a short lead to avoid distressing the livestock in the fields and the seals on the beach. Both The Nelson Head and Poppylands are dog-friendly.
Download a map: www.nationaltrust.org.uk