The evenings are getting lighter, the borders are buzzing and Easter is on the way. Could there be a better way of celebrating the change of the seasons than by getting out and exploring the brilliant British countryside? We've got together with our friends at Inntravel, who run fantastic guided walking tours in England's most spectacular regions, to come up with a list of some of our favourite walks just in time for the holidays.
We love two of the local Cotswolds long-distance footpaths, the Warden's Way and Windrush Way, which spider out from touristy Bourton-on-the-Water to Winchcombe, where you can pick up the longer Cotswolds Way and also take in very wonderful sight of Sudeley Castle. The Warden's Way is the low road, basically, taking in the picturesque Cotswold villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, while the Windrush Way cuts across the high ground above, so doing them together makes for a lovely and varied loop.
We reckon the 100-mile long Cleveland Way is one of Britain's finest long-distance footpaths, and the nice thing is it breaks down into easily-done shortish sections, taking in Whitby, Staithes and other enticing coastal staging posts along the way. It also links with one of our favourite old railway line paths, the 21-mile-long Cinder Track, which follows the old train route between Whitby and Scarborough a little way inland, accessing fabulous hidden bays like Hayburn Wyke, and the lovely tearoom at the old station in Cloughton. It's possible to do an unforgettable circular walk using these the two routes.
England's emptiest, most mysterious county reaches its coastal climax in the big skies of Embleton Bay, just north of Alnwick, and you can do great enervating walk from Craster on the bay's southern side, taking in the National Trust property of Dunstanburgh Castle. on the way, and finishing up at the scenic seaside village of Low Newton on the Bay's northernmost point. The views across the bay are magnificent at any time of year, great for spotting seabirds and if you're lucky a few seals basking at low tide. And if you manage to complete the whole 8-mile loop, you can reward yourself with one of Craster's famous kippers for your tea.
If you're looking for a relatively easy, shortish circular walk – and let's face it, most of us are! – Cressbrook Dale, just east of Buxton, fits the bill perfectly. It's in a part of the Peak District National Park that is often overlooked yet is one of its loveliest spots, and what's more there's a really good pub at the end of it – the excellent Red Lion in Litton. The walk itself takes in limestone crags and rocky gorges, woodland glades, meadows carpeted with wild flowers and more, as well as the endearingly named village of Water-cum-Jolly Dale, where Julia Bradbury's dad used to run the tea room.
The high green hills of the Shropshire Marches are home to so many delightful walks it's hard to know where to begin, but one of the best you can do takes in the so-called Stiperstones – high, rocky crags that crown a ridge a few miles northeast of the funky hilltop town of Bishop's Castle and make a dramatic focus for a roughly 8-mile circular hike, using the Horseshoe Inn in Bridges as a base. There's also the more famous Long Mynd, a few miles to the east, a steep ridge which dominates the landscape for miles around and along which you can hike from the small village of Plowden (with its charming, tiny Catholic church), up to Hopesay Common, just outside Church Stretton – truly a wonderful walk, in a relatively unknown yet breathtakingly beautiful part of the country. One of our absolute top choices, this one.
If like me you've spent time in Aldeburgh and Snape Maltings and wondered why you couldn't walk between the two, well wonder no more because now you can. The so-called Sailor's Path starts in Aldeburgh and winds through the reeds and marshes up to the Maltings – a 3-hour stroll on a good day. It's an easy, flat walk, and to be honest you haven't really earned the shopping and foodie delights that await you at the excellent Maltings complex. But if you're hungry for more Suffolk walks, try the coastal path from Aldeburgh, whose route across heathy cliffs, beaches and through woodland to Southwold (via the delightful Walberswick foot ferry) makes for a lovely all-day hike.