Believe it or not – and weather permitting – New Year is one of the best times of the year to take a walk and see Britain at its best. What's more, it's the perfect way to blow the cobwebs away and feel normal again after a week or so of excess. To help provide inspiration, we've asked our Cool Places authors to share some of their favourite New Year walks in both town and country.
Sussex resident Kat Bendix says you can do a wonderful 4 ½ mile walk from there South Downs village of Burpham, taking the path from the village hall (just behind the pub) and along the winding river Arun, past fields that are cultivated to attract wildlife then up on to the Downs for spectacular views of Arundel castle. You can't get lost: the route is mapped out on a poster at the entrance to the car park and is in any case well signposted. By the time you get back to the pub you should have a healthy appetite and the good thing about the George & Dragon is that it serves up British rustic cooking and local ales. Dog-friendly too, if you eat in the bar.
Horsey Windpump and beach – Norfolk
One of Norfolk author Martin Dunford's favourite winter walks is to strike out across the fields from Horsey Windpump to the coast, where December sees the arrival of hundreds of seal pups at Horsey's beach. After you've strolled the dunes you can make your way back via the excellent Nelson Head pub, to warm up with local Woodforde's ales and some great homecooked food.
The Itchen Way Walk – Winchester
Winchester author Chloe Thomas loves this walk and does it regularly, but it's particularly nice at New Year, providing as it does an easy dose of town and country, and taking in a nature reserve, where you might spot the odd muntjac deer, and a decent pub for a pint or some lunch.
Cressbrook Dale Walk to the Red Lion at Litton – The Peak District
An all-time favourite New Year walk by our Peaks author Amanda Wragg, involves walking through some of the most unspoilt and overlooked parts of the stunning national park. It's a relatively straightforward 6-mile walk, displaying the most sensational views of the Peaks. The best part? Ending up at the Red Lion pub afterwards of course. Roaring fires, local ales and British pub grub doesn't come much better than this.
Ashton Court Deer Farm – Bristol
Bristol author Laura Dixon recommends the walk to Ashton Court Deer Farm, but from the art college – not the main entrance. You'll come to a steep hill where to you your left you'll find a whole paddock of red deer. Following the path up and round the main yellow building will lead you to the lawn walk, surrounded by pretty rose gardens and another deer park full of fallow dear. A bit late for Christmas, but it might just help you to retain that festive glow.
Having lunch at the Bull & Last in Highgate is a New Year must according to Hampstead author Mark Ellingham. Its fresh seasonal menu, cosy ambience and rare 'dogs welcome' policy makes it a cut above the other nearby average alternatives. It's also right opposite one of the many entrances to the Heath and close to Parliament Hill – a tucked away little chunk of the Heath that's less popular than its rival Primrose Hill, but has equally sensational views of the London skyline.
The Cleveland Way – Yorkshire
There's no better place to start the New Year according to Yorkshire-based author Jules Brown than on the magnificent Cleveland Way, most of which lies within the North York Moors National Park, and it's a pretty easy trail to take in bite-sized sections – Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay, for example (6 miles), or up to the majestic viewpoint of Roseberry Topping from near Great Ayton.
Walk to Grantchester – Cambridge
Author James Stewart's tip on escaping the Cambridge New Year high jinks is to take the pleasant stroll up the River Cam out of the city towards the idyllic frosty meadows nearby. You end up in the charming village of Grantchester – previous residence of war poet Rupert Brooke. Grab a pint in one of the great local pubs and soak up the history.