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We all know that the English weather can be unpredictable, but there’s something so glorious about a crisp autumn or winter’s day that it’s hard to resist getting outside. The days may be shorter, but there’s a lot about autumn which just seems to feed the soul; the colours of the turning leaves, the smell of wood smoke and the feeling of cosying up after the chilly outdoor air. We love this time of year and one of the best ways to enjoy it is by getting out for a walk. It’s easy to become distanced from nature over the colder months when you’re perhaps not getting out as often, so a chance to enjoy autumnal walks can boost your mood and give you a sense of achievement. Here’s a rundown of our six favourite English walks, which look glorious during autumn and winter.
You can pick up the South Downs Way at Lewes, and enjoy a 7.5 mile stroll to the pretty town of Ditchling. Both Lewes and Ditchling are among the most picturesque of Sussex’s many postcard perfect towns, and the countryside between them is simply breath-taking at this time of year. The highlights of this path include the Ditchling Beacon and the twin windmills of Clayton.
One of the most beautiful autumnal walks in England has to be the Kinder Scout Loop, which is 10.5 miles in length and could take you most of the day. Starting from the village of Edale, the path takes in the stone steps of Jacob’s Ladder and the stunning woods and lakes of the Dark Peak, which definitely require cameras at the ready!
At 24 miles, the Yorkshire Three Peaks trail would take you a couple of days to complete, but the rewards are well worth the effort. It might not be one for the faint-hearted, but strap on a good pair of hiking boots and you could see some of the best bits of God’s Own County; the views from the top of Whernside Ridge, the Iron Age fort at Ingleborough and the awe-inspiring summit of Pen-y-Ghent.
For wonderful natural scenery, few places compare to the Peak District. The Peak District National Park pulls in people from all over the world, let alone the UK, and it’s easy to see why if you follow this trail. At about six or seven miles in length, this route is easy enough to tackle even for unseasoned walkers and showcases some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK. A note of caution: the stepping stones themselves can be underwater if the river is high, so choose a nice clear day before you set out.
Given that it’s 102 miles in total, you probably won’t be tackling the whole of the Cotswold Way in one go! Even if you just do stretches of it, however, it’s well worth the leg work. This is one of the best walks in the UK, and if you do the final 10.2 mile stretch from Cold Ashton, you will end up in the beautiful, historic city of Bath. There’s definitely a warming coffee to greet you in one of Bath’s lovely little cafes or pubs, which isn’t a bad way to round off a day’s walking!
If you’re craving peace and are willing to take five or six days over it, then Glyndwr's Way is for you. Coming in at 73 miles in length, this is definitely a challenge. The trail starts in Knighton, on the English border, with Machynlleth as a mid-way point. The scenery is simply incredible and makes this one of the best winter walks for those who love nature. Along the way, you’ll ascend Plinlimmon, which is the highest point of Mid-Wales and a great place to take in the views.
The benefits of regular exercise are something we’re all well aware of, but the great outdoors becomes all the more important over the autumn and winter. Getting out into the natural world has been shown to improve overall mood, which is something we can all struggle with as the seasons change and the days become shorter. There’s also a temptation to turn to comfort food when the weather is a bit miserable, which is why many of us put on a few pounds over the colder months.
It’s also worth remembering that without as much sunlight and with more time spent inside, you may find you become Vitamin D deficient. Getting out into the natural world can really help with that problem, strengthening your bones and giving your immune system a much-needed boost. Walking can be an incredibly sociable activity if you can find a walking buddy or hook up with a group of friends; there can be as much talking as walking when you turn it into a proper day out!
We hope you’ve been inspired by these top picks. Nothing beats filling your lungs with fresh air and getting your heart pumping, particularly with the stunning colours of autumn and the crisp, bright days of winter just ahead.
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