Christmas is one of the best times of the year to take a walk and see Britain at its best. The frosty shimmer on the trees, crisp ice coating the grass and twinkling lights illuminating the streets, makes everything so clean and beautiful – plus of course it's traditional to heave your over-fed bulk out of the chair on Christmas Day afternoon to walk off all that turkey. To help provide inspiration, we've asked our Cool Places authors to share some of their favourite festive walks in Britain:
Cressbrook Dale Walk to the Red Lion at Litton – The Peak District
An all-time favourite festive 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. Not quite Rudolf and his friends, but if it's snowing and you bring a sledge, there's no better Christmas walk in Bristol.
Having lunch at the Bull & Last in Highgate is a Christmas 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.
Walk to Grantchester – Cambridge
Author James Stewart's tip on escaping Cambridge's Christmas mayhem 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.
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 Tenby Boxing Day Swim – Pembrokeshire
South Wales author Amy Sheldrake is braving the cold this Christmas, at the annual charity sponsored event, orignally started by Tesco in pretty seaside town Tenby, South Wales. The swim – a rather radical alternative to a Christmas walk – sees hundreds of people brave the icy waters, dressed in fancy dress – all in the name of charity and good fun. Just turn up, and get involved. There's plenty of beach bonfires and a post swim knees up at the nearby pubs afterwards.