The UK’s 20 best countryside walks for social distancing

Long walks are within the rules again, and how we’ve missed them. Here’s our guide to some of the best in Britain, away from the crowds

My goodness. After all these weeks of house arrest, to be told, “You can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance” is dizzying. For those who have always wondered what it would feel like to be given the Freedom of Las Vegas, now we know.

So The Telegraph today presents 20 walks of the off-the-beaten-track variety, just in time to celebrate the first weekend of the slight lockdown-loosening that came into effect on Wednesday. Though we are all still required to stay at home as much as possible, we can now exercise outdoors as often as we wish, and we can take trips in private vehicles to do so.

Naturally, there are umpteen important caveats. You must stay at least two metres from anyone who’s not a member of your household [ . . . ]

Source: The UK’s 20 best countryside walks for social distancing

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My eagle-eyed winter wander around the Isle of Wight

The island isn’t only for summer holidays: the colder months are perfect for birding and walks along trails that will form part of the England Coast Path

The Isle of Wight is having a moment. That’s what conservationist Dave Fairlamb tells me as we eat homemade cake on a silver-grey afternoon, watching meadow pipits above Newtown’s salt marshes.

“From a nature perspective,” he says, “everything’s converging.”

Dave has just launched Natural Links, offering birdwatching breaks and courses on the island, which has been focusing on its natural assets in the past year. Two Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust projects – the Wilder strategy and Secrets of the Solent – launched in 2019; Visit Isle of Wight published a Slow Travel Guide; and the whole island was awarded Unesco Biosphere status. Last summer also saw the start of a white-tailed eagle reintroduction project, with six birds released on the island’s north coast.

We see no eagles but as we stroll along the harbour we spot a swirl of dunlins – “about 600,” Dave estimates in an instant – and thrill to a fly-by of overwintering Brent geese, [ . . . ] Continue reading

10 of UK’s best spring walks

Pubs and restaurants may be closed and dark, but all over the UK wildlife is bursting into the light of longer days and it’s never been more important to get some fresh air. Nature writers select their favourite seasonal destinations

Land of poems and stories: the Cotswolds

“If ever I heard blessing it is there. Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are.” In April and May the Cotswold landscape still speaks in the soft, calm tones of Laurie Lee. For a first-time visitor it can take a while to tune into the hard, spare, wall-bound fields of the Cotswold plateau. Yet in the valleys and on the scarp edges, there are bluebells and wood anemones, clear spring-fed streams and a soundtrack of willow warblers and blackcaps, fresh back from their winter travels.

The deep valleys around Stroud hold hanging woods, filled in April with the scent of wild garlic. At the National Trust-maintained Woodchester Park, where the half-completed Victorian manor stands mysterious in the valley bottom, it feels as though the clock has stopped and no one has yet arrived to restart it.

Further north, in my home patch, the same timeless feel pervades Hailes Abbey, with, above it, a monument marking Thomas Cromwell’s seat, from which it is said he watched the Abbey burn almost 500 years ago. From here you can walk a couple of miles along the Cotswold Way to Winchcombe.

Spring is a wonderful time to explore smaller towns and villages, many of which are the subject of poems and stories. For me, each name conjures a memory: a village cricket match in April snow at Guiting Power; my childhood love of Bibury,

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