Let’s Go For a Beautiful Long Walk with these Breathtaking Pathways
If you love walking on beautiful pathways. Then you must read this article. Let me tell you that British countryside is especially dramatic in winter, and ideal for a walk to blow away the Christmas cobwebs. Some great writers choose their favorite pathways. Let’s find out.
Frogham to Fritham, Hampshire
Length 11 miles return Time 3½ to 4 hours, excluding time spent at the pub Start/finish Abbots Well Car Park, Abbots Well Road, Frogham, near Frogham to Fritham and back: even if you forget the pub, the music of the place names is alluring. The view at the start of the walk stretches for miles over rough, dark country: undulating heath, patches of rusty bracken, wooded valleys; not a house in sight, nor any signs to Fritham, but a footpath leads downhill and crosses a beautiful stream. A green pasture lies beyond. In November, the entire area was covered in pale, spider-sewn filaments, inches above the ground, billowing and shimmering in the low sun. The tramp ahead is a leg-stretching, lung-expanding journey into the heart of the New Forest. The latter part of the route that I take – there are several possible – runs through a wild wood, a damp tangle of hollies and oaks. You emerge into open heathland, invigorated by the prospect of beer. Dating from the 17th century, with three snug rooms, the Royal Oak is a proper walkers’ pub – good food for a winter’s day, nothing too fancy. Try the ploughman’s, which on my last tasting came with two vast slabs of a nutty local cheddar.
Firle, East Sussex
Length 4 miles Time 2 hours Start/finish Firle village car park So many walks on my part of the Sussex Downs take in the high points – Kingston Ridge, Mount Caburn, Ditchling Beacon – but in winter I like to swap midsummer hikes among the skylarks and paragliders for stumbles over ploughed fields, studded with flint and pheasants. This circular route from the village car park begins on fairly bland open parkland towards Firle Place, but soon delivers you into the best textures of Sussex: a beautiful flint and brick cottage by a chalky lane has the bridleway running through its garden, inviting a brief thrill of pretend ownership
Length 6½ miles Time 3 hours Start/finish Oxford railway station There and back again can be a boring way to walk, but along the Oxford Canal there is no risk of that, as history, natural and otherwise, is everywhere. Arriving at the station, ignore the first signs taking you to the canal and walk into town, until you come to the bridge over the canal and the start of the towpath on your left. Residential narrowboats accompany the early stages of the walk, and soon you are into Philip Pullman Gyptian territory. Jericho used to be industrialised, and I can remember Lucy’s ironworks casting wild lights at night. Now it is housing. At this point you could take a detour out to your left, onto Port Meadow – a great, shallow ice-rink if it freezes.