TASTE December 2018

London – recently opened

 

London’s restaurant scene has continued to excel as we enter the winter months, welcoming a number of new venues and experiences. The Great Northern Hotel, in Kings Cross, has opened Anthracite, a three-roomed martini lounge in the Grade II listed Italianate Victorian building offering a carefully curated selection of vodkas, gins and vermouths so guests can create a bespoke martini. They will also enjoy luxury food including caviar, charcuterie and cheese boards.

 

Following on from hugely successful pop-ups and venues across London and Bristol, founders Tim Vasilakis and Neo Christodoulou have launched The Athenian in the capital’s financial district, bringing authentic Greek street food to Canary Wharf. Grab-and-go eatery HOP Vietnamese has set up in the base of The Leadenhall Building, offering their signature HOP box with curry and steamed rice, alongside a host of other delicious Asian street food. Meanwhile, Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant Imperial Treasure, renowned for its Peking duck and other high-end authentic Chinese specialties, made its European debut in Waterloo Place in late November.

 

November also saw the opening of the latest Comptoir Libanais, this time a flagship offering in London Bridge from founder Tony Kitous. Bringing unique dishes and a taste of Lebanon and the Middle East to Tooley Street, diners can delve into a selection of mezze alongside wraps, salads and delicious meats fresh from the grill.

 

After tasting success in Shoreditch and Croydon, Boxpark Wembley launched in early December with a Rinse FM takeover, offering a diverse mix of street food and retail vendors, including The Athenian, TapaVino, Bombay Burrito and Cut + Grind. High-end Japanese restaurant Ginza Onodera has also opened its doors in St James, providing a delightful menu styled on traditional Japanese cuisine and techniques. Alongside specialist festive menus, tuck into teppan-yaki, sushi and robata grill dishes from the group that has two Michelin-starred Sushi Ginza Onodera restaurants in New York. In addition, Pan Asian tapas restaurant Gamma Gamma launched at 6 Greek Street in the heart of Soho, with a menu of shareable fusion dishes featuring exotic meats such as kangaroo, zebra and ostrich, coupled with an extensive bespoke cocktail list.

 

London – opening soon, refurbished or relocated

 

An Islington branch of Covent Garden’s popular vegan eatery Wild Food Cafe is set to open on Angel’s Upper Street in mid-December, with a ‘wild brunch’ and gluten-free wood fired pizza on the menu. Meanwhile, Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Tamarind in Mayfair has completed an extensive refurbishment and has returned with a reinvented menu to mark the occasion. Ramen pop-up Yamagoya has also relocated from Waterloo to return to Soho, taking over the upstairs space at hot pot restaurant Shuang Shuang, where it first appeared several years ago. Expect a variety of ramen dishes, alongside its famed rainbow cake.

 

Manchester – recently opened

 

Manchester has also welcomed both Dishoom and The Ivy to the city in recent weeks, with both looking to build on their legacy of success in the capital. Guests at The Ivy Spinningfields can eat on one of four fabulous floors of a hugely impressive timber framed café-style brasserie, with a menu that blends modern British and international dishes. Meanwhile the award-winning Indian café group

Dishoom has brought its Bombay inspired delights to the remarkable surroundings of Manchester Hall.

 

Manchester – opening soon

 

Popular independent Italian cicchetti and charcuterie Bacaro is set to open in the city in early 2019, occupying a space on the ground floor of the iconic shopping emporium Afflecks in the Northern Quarter. In addition, acclaimed chef Gary Usher will open his sixth restaurant, Kala, on Manchester’s King Street in February.

Five family-friendly activities in London fit for royalty

Five family-friendly activities in London fit for royalty

Traditional Scottish inns

Traditional Scottish inns

Five luxurious ways to travel around Britain

Five luxurious ways to travel around Britain

Theatre to book in 2019

London shows

Small Island

Opening in May, the Olivier Theatre in London’s National Theatre will welcome an adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel Small Island by Helen Edmundson. Focusing on the history of Jamaica and Britain and set at the time when the Empire Windrush docked in the UK, the show follows the connected stories of Hortense, new to London from Jamaica, landlady Queenie and two servicemen, Bernard and Gilbert.

The Antipodes

October means the European premiere of Annie Baker’s The Antipodes at the Dorfman Theatre, another of the National Theatre spaces. Following a period at the Signature Theatre in New York, the play about stories and the people that tell them is directed by Lila Neugebauer.

Top Girls

Having premiered in London in 1982, Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls will return in 2019 to the National Theatre’s Lyttelton space. Following Marlene, the first woman to head the Top Girls employment agency, the play is an innovative look at a country that is divided by its ambitions – the first showing is in late March.

9 to 5 The Musical

Enjoy a hilarious tale of friendship, gossip and revenge, as well as Dolly Parton’s biggest hits in 9 to 5 the Musical, which premiers in the West End’s Savoy Theatre in late January, before concluding at the end of August. Telling the story of how to survive in an office environment, expect all of the classic songs, including the title track 9 to 5, Always a Woman and Around Here, as well as many more.

All About Eve

Discover Ivo van Hove’s new adaptation of All About Eve at London’s Noel Coward Theatre, starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James. Uncover a world of jealousy and ambition, and question why people are fascinated with celebrities, youth and identity when the show premiers in the West End in February 2019.

Come From Away

Having sold out on Broadway, Come From Away comes to the UK in 2019 to tell the remarkable true story of how a small town in Newfoundland housed 7,000 stranded air passengers in the wake of 9/11 in 2001. Highlighting the capacity for human kindness in difficult times and the triumph of humanity over hate, the show gets underway at London’s Phoenix Theatre in late January.

The Waitress

Taking inspiration from Adrienne Shelly’s hit film, The Waitress is the story of Jenna, a waitress and skilled pie-maker on the hunt of a new life beyond the confines of her small town and loveless marriage. Katharine McPhee will star as Jenna during the limited run from February to May at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand.

Long-running shows Lion King The Musical, The Book of Mormon, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables and Thriller-Live will all continue to grab the imagination in 2019 too.

Across the UK

Swan Lake

Matthew Bourne’s re-imagined take on Tchaikovsky’s classic Swan Lake completes its tour of Britain in the first half of 2019, with shows all over the country. Famed for its male ballet ensemble, it’s an exciting modern look at a renowned classic production. Alongside shows at Sadler’s Wells in London, the tour will visit Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Southampton, Glasgow, Bristol, Canterbury, Norwich, Liverpool, Wimbledon, Hull, Woking, Newcastle and Sheffield.

Annie

Following a successful stint on London’s West End, the heart-warming story of young orphan Annie will visit 16 cities across the UK between early February and the beginning of July. Expect all of the hit songs, including It’s the Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow, and keep your eyes peeled for Anita Dobson and Craig Revel Horwood, who are both set for spells as tyrannical orphanage owner Miss Hannigan in Michael Harrison and David Ian’s hit production.

The Bodyguard

X-factor winner Alexandra Burke leads the cast in The Bodyguard, a musical based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 movie starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Having successfully conquered London’s West End, the romantic thriller follows bodyguard Frank Farmer and superstar Rachel Marron and is directed by award-wining Thea Sharrock. Having opened in Glasgow in late 2018, the hit musical will travel across the UK in 2019 before culminating with Manchester shows in early January 2020. Note that Carole Stennett will step into the lead role for certain shows.

Measure for Measure

Despite being written in the early 1600s, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure still resonates strongly to this day. Gregory Doran directs the story of a young nun, compromised by a corrupt official and unsure of her options. Starting in late June, shows will take place at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon until the end of August.

In The Willows

Discover a fresh new take on Kenneth Grahame’s classic as The Wind in the Willows is transformed into a thrilling hip hop musical. Director Poppy Burton-Morgan has joined forces with award-winning composer Pippa Cleary and pioneering hip-hop composer Kieran Merrick for In The Willows, which will tour the UK from mid-February to the start of June. Expect killer beats and epic tunes as deaf street dancer Chris Fonseca stars as Otter.

Pirates!

A vibrant revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance is set to open in 2019, although dates are yet to be confirmed. Pirates!, directed by Daryl Gray, will feature new arrangements and orchestrations from Grammy Award winner Steve Sidwell, some 140 years after the original was first performed.

We Will Rock You

The smash hit Queen and Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You returns in 2019 for a UK and Ireland tour, having toured internationally since leaving the West End in 2014. Offering a combination of Elton’s futuristic comedy writing paired with 24 of Queen’s biggest hits, it follows the epic Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which opened at number one in the box office in more than 30 countries. The nine-month tour of the UK gets underway in September.

60 minutes from…Belfast

Northern Ireland’s lively capital is renowned for its mix of art, culture and history, and you’ll find a wealth of exciting attractions to keep you busy. But beyond the limits of Belfast’s rich cultural cityscape, only an hour or less away, lie even more remarkable destinations that can enthral and excite. What’s more, eagle-eyed visitors will spot filming locations from the HBO epic Game of Thrones at nearly every turn, many of which are set to open to the public in 2019 to coincide with the airing of the show’s final season.

Birdwatch at Castle Espie

Drive eastwards from Belfast towards Strangford Lough to discover Castle Espie, an extensive wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Found three miles to the south of Comber, County Down, it is home to an abundance of native and exotic water birds, stunning estuary views, as well as habitats for plenty of other incredible wildlife. Castle Espie is also an early wintering site for the vast majority of the world’s migrating pale-bellied Brent geese, while Kingfishers are a regular sight in the Saline Lagoon.

From Castle Espie, head south for 20 minutes to take in the picturesque Killyleagh Castle with its conical roofs and imposing battlements, which stands proudly over the village of the same name. Alternatively, head around Strangford Lough in a clockwise direction to reach the National Trust site of Mount Stewart, a splendid collection of award-winning gardens alongside a beautifully refurbished neo-classical property. The characteristic gardens have a strong exotic and Mediterranean feel, while wooded areas support plants from all over the world, ensuring there’s something to discover all year round.

Slightly further south are the ruins of Grey Abbey, a former grey stone Cistercian priory. You’ll also find the Grey Abbey House and Gardens, which hosts an annual steam rally by the County Down Traction Engine Club in addition to numerous classic car meetings.

Head north from Mount Stewart to the centre of Bangor and the North Down Museum. This insightful exhibition explores the pivotal role that Bangor Abbey had in early Christian Ireland and the impact of the Viking invasion. Full-sized versions of a Viking Longhouse and Monk’s Cell accompany a range of exhibitions on the Bronze Age, plantations and more.

Boat on Lough Neagh

Drive westwards from Belfast and bask in the tranquil atmosphere and unspoilt scenery of Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland’s largest freshwater lake. An Area of Specific Scientific Interest, its internationally recognised wetlands are a haven for wildlife and numerous viewing points can be found dotted along its 125km of pristine shoreline. Hire a boat to experience the calm waters or try out a number of more adventurous water sport activities.

Go full-steam ahead in Whitehead

Venture in a north-easterly direction for 25 minutes to uncover the Whitehead Railway Museum, on the east coast of County Antrim, which offers a fascinating insight into the world of steam travel and the history of railway in Northern Ireland. Children can dress up in Victorian costume, watch as restoration work takes place and climb on board several iconic locomotives and carriages from the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s collection.

Uncover the beauty of Lisburn

Immerse yourself in the historical importance of Castle Gardens, in Lisburn, by travelling just 20 minutes to the south west of Belfast. Once the home of a fortified 17th-century manor house and now a beautifully kept public park, the city is also home to the spectacular 300-year old Lisburn Cathedral. Delve further into the history of the region with a visit to the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum, which explores Ireland’s industrial heritage, tracing the history of linen through its award-winning Flax to Fabric exhibition.

Bask in the splendour of Hillsborough Castle a short distance further to the south west, an 18th- century Georgian country house that is also the Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland. Take a guided tour of the castle and state rooms, before venturing outside to explore its ornamental grounds, woodlands and waterways.

Around an hour from Belfast to the south west is the city of Armagh. See St Patrick’s Cathedral, which stands on top of the hill from which the city derived its name. Gaze at the stars at the Armagh Astronomy Centre and Planetarium and listen to a show on the night sky, before exploring its beautiful landscaped grounds. Finish your visit to the city at Armagh County Museum. Designed like a Greek temple, the museum is home to numerous artefacts that detail the rich history of the region dating back to prehistoric times.

Discover the mesmerising Mourne Mountains

Some 50km and an hour to the south of Belfast by car, in County Down, is the immeasurable beauty of the Mourne Mountains, the country’s highest and most awe-inspiring set of peaks. Explore the summits, complete with their granite tors, via a network of criss-crossed tracks and trace the old smuggling routes from Newcastle to Hilltown, taking in views of the Mourne Wall along the way. Built to keep sheep and cattle away from the Silent Reservoir catchment, the 22-mile long wall has stood for close to 100 years.

If there is time to explore a little further from Belfast, then start with the stunning scenery and natural sights of Country Antrim to the north. The striking coastline is home to an abundance of wildlife, as well as the majestic Giant’s Causeway and the impressive Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, near Ballintoy. Other popular destinations include Bushmills Distillery – Ireland’s oldest working distillery – and nearby Dark Hedges, where Arya Stark made her escape from King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. Dunluce Castle, a cliff top ruin, also starred as The House of Greyjoy in the hit TV show.

Six of the healthiest spots to kick off the new year

Feel the need to detox after the end-of-year celebrations? Here’s a pick of health retreats in Britain where you can easily kickstart your new-year, new-year wellbeing journey.

Gilpin Hotel & Spa, Lake District, north-west England

England’s stunning Lake District vistas are inspiration enough to make someone want to embrace a healthier lifestyle for the new year but, for that extra boost, check in to the Gilpin Hotel for some star-quality spa experiences. In addition to the 25 bedrooms, all with lake views, the hotel offers five new detached Spa Lodges; in each you’ll find an ensuite spa – think outdoor saunas and hydrotherapy hot tubs and indoor rainmaker showers and steam rooms. An alternative option at the property is to stay at the Gilpin Lake House, situated a mile away on a separate estate. This is truly a sanctuary – available to be privately booked for 12 people, it has its own lake, hot tubs, sauna, pool and the Jetty Spa, a Swedish-style spa treatment room set three metres into a tree canopy. Round off the relaxing experience with healthy, yet mouth-watering dishes at the Michelin-starred HRiSHi restaurant back up at Gilpin House.

The Sharpham Trust, Devon, south-west England

Set on a 550-acre estate on the River Dart in south Devon, the Sharpham Trust aims to bring nature and mindfulness to its guests. Its programme of mediation retreats are held at The Barn, a converted linhay (a type of two-storeyed farmhouse particularly found in Devon), while its dedicated mindfulness retreats take place in the Grade I-listed, Georgian mansion Sharpham House. The Trust, which has been running for more than 30 years, is set in gorgeous Capability Brown-designed parkland. Woodland retreats are also available, providing a fantastic opportunity to be super close to nature as guests stay in yurts out in the woodlands, or consider booking onto one of its courses for positive mental health, ranging from a one-day to a nine-week Mindful-in-Nature course.

ecoYoga, Scotland

The fresh air of the Scottish Highlands is a sure-fire way to get in the mood for a healthy outlook on life. Head to the tranquil, riverside retreat of ecoYoga Scotland for its relaxed vibes; here you’ll find a variety of yoga courses and retreats that are married with the teachings of sustainable eco-living. The ecoYoga Centre is powered by a hydro turbine and solar panels, water comes directly from a natural spring and guests can get involved in forest creations, gardening and a number of other eco-style activities. Even when retreats are not running guests can stay at the venue on a self-catering basis, take yoga classes in its yoga studio and enjoy its hot wild-river baths. Yoga classes are also taught by visiting teachers and include styles such as Ashtanga and Iyengar.

Seren Retreat, Gower, south Wales

Interested in Polarity Therapy? This technique, which focuses on the body’s energy flow, is a speciality of the Seren Retreat, a health resort 15 minutes from the award-winning beaches of the Gower Peninsula and set in 23 acres of woodland. Run by Rex and Alaea Beynon, who have 30 years’ experience in the healing arts, the retreats here aim to promote emotional, mental, physical and spiritual happiness. Treatments and counselling sessions are supported by both nutritional guidance and yoga aimed towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Yoga and mediation retreats use Ayurvedic rejuvenation techniques and retreats can be booked for between three to ten nights and also come with an Ayurvedic cooking demonstration.

Neal’s Yard Holidays, Britain-wide

Vegan detox and juice detox spa breaks, yoga retreats and wellbeing retreats – whatever way you’re looking to recharge your batteries and kickstart a healthy lifestyle you’re likely to find it through the UK-based Neal’s Yard Holidays, which take place across a number of locations across Britain. North Yorkshire has been the location for its juice detox spa breaks, where, as well as staying in a beautiful venue, guests enjoy yoga and energy rebalancing workshops. There are also women-only wellbeing retreats that combine life coaching with meditation and gourmet raw food, while its yoga retreats take place across some of Britain’s most beautiful and tranquil locations.

Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire

Just over half an hour from London and only seven miles from Heathrow Airport, you’ll find Stoke Park Hotel in the heart of the beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside. Not only will the five-star luxury of this mansion house kickstart those endorphins to start you down a stress-free path, if your exercise of choice is tennis then you’re also in your dream location. Here you’ll find 13 tennis courts encompassing grass, clay and indoor, ideal for any level of player. Plus, it boasts a 4,000sqft gym for guests use, personal training and up to 40 exercise classes each week, a 27-hole Championship golf course, indoor pool and 14 acres of private gardens to stroll around. Relax after all that sport with some time in its award-winning spa and Scandinavian sauna.

7 amazing reasons to visit the Lake District this winter

7 amazing reasons to visit the Lake District this winter

48 Hours in Birmingham

Time to check in

As befits a city of its size, Birmingham has a multitude of hotels, ranging from budget chains to luxury properties and everything in between. The seven-storey, 131-bedroom Pentahotel is one of the city’s coolest properties – its bar, restaurant and lounge being a particular draw thanks to its funky décor – and is only a ten-minute walk from the train station, and just five from the city’s must-visit Bullring Shopping Centre. For boutique-style accommodation set within Victorian architecture, The Edgbaston – located in the Edgbaston neighbourhood of Birmingham, the famous home of cricket – has just expanded to offer 20 contemporary, individually styled bedrooms. You’ll find four-star luxury at the Genting Hotel, situated right at the heart of leisure and entertainment complex Resorts World Birmingham and, come early 2019, The Grand, a luxury, 180-room hotel with a restaurant and bar, a spa and a rooftop infinity pool, is due to open in one of the city’s best-known, Grade II-listed buildings.

DAY ONE

09:00 Did you know that Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice, all of which are lined with beautifully restored industrial heritage landmarks or striking contemporary buildings? Embarking on a canal boat tour is one of the best ways to explore the city’s heritage. There are several routes to choose from, ranging from tours of the more modern developments of Birmingham to the city’s pretty suburbs and out further into the countryside.

11:00 Discover adventure in the heart of a city as you test your mental and physical abilities at Birmingham’s recently opened Bear Grylls Adventure, the TV presenter’s eponymous activities venue. Choose from thrilling climbing challenges, tackle extreme high-ropes courses, experience unadulterated joy as you free fall at indoor skydiving, or take a deep breath as you submerge for the underwater challenges. The adrenaline rush will set you up for the day ahead!

13:00 How about a botanical-inspired cocktail – think poppy and pomegranate martini or a sage and rhubarb spritz – created from greenhouse herbs grown on-site to accompany a hearty lunch in a charming venue? The Botanist evokes a secret garden atmosphere, its décor embellished with various knick-knacks and ornaments. The restaurant serves up BBQ, deli and rotisserie-based dishes such as its Famous Hanging Kebabs, ranging from Tandoori cod and king prawn to lamb kofta with harissa jam.

15:00 One of Britain’s most famous confectionary brands, Cadbury, was born and bred in Birmingham. Discover its story – as well as feast on as much chocolate as you can eat – at Cadbury World, 20 minutes from the city centre. You’ll find out how chocolate is made, explore the 4D Chocolate Adventure zone and the 4D cinema experiences and watch the chocolatiers at work. And don’t forget to stock up on treats at the world’s largest Cadbury shop on-site!

17:00 Make your way over to the Custard Factory, the city’s creative quarter, and enjoy a round of crazy golf against a backdrop of graffiti art and cool music at Ghetto Golf. After you’ve hit 18 holes sip a cocktail or two at its stylish bar.

19:00 Head back into the city centre for a meal at one of Birmingham’s newest dining experiences, Pint Shop. Located in a listed building dating back to 1860 in Birmingham’s former financial quarter, Bennett’s Hill, the restaurant focuses on a menu of seasonal British produce and local and national beers.

DAY TWO

09:00 Gain a genuine insight into what life was like in the Black Country (just west of Birmingham) as the region grew into one of the world’s first industrial landscapes at the Black Country Living Museum. This fascinating open-air museum is packed with original period shops, houses and villages, with costumed characters to relate stories of what it was like to live and work in the region in the mid-19th century. Plans are also under way to create a new town centre telling the story of the Black Country from the 1940s to the 1960s.

11:00 In addition to its well-documented industrial heritage, Birmingham is renowned for its jewellery and metalworking heritage. Head to the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter in the Jewellery Quarter to discover more – the museum is a perfect time capsule, built around a preserved jewellery workshop. Take a guided tour, explore the galleries and watch live jewellery-making demonstrations before exploring the Jewellery Quarter itself which, as well as the ideal place to search for a new bracelet or earrings, boasts a thriving arts scene.

13:00 Stop for a quick bite to eat at the Jewellery Quarter-based Rose Villa Tavern. Described as a ‘vintage Victorian mecca’ it’s a highly decorative venue (think antler chandeliers and artistic tiles), creating a lovely atmosphere in which to enjoy classic diner-style food, craft beers and maybe a sample of one of the 100 vodkas it stocks.

15:00 Birmingham has long been a magnet for TV and film producers; one of the biggest hits recently filmed here is Peaky Blinders, a show set in the city during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Discover Birmingham’s darker past on a Peaky Blinders-inspired walking tour. There are several tour companies offering such tours, as well as a host of other walking routes. BrumTours, for example, also runs a BrumPubs tour, a Birth of Birmingham tour and a Thousand Trades tour, as an homage to the city’s rich trading and manufacturing past.

17:00 Head to the neighbourhood of Digbeth, a cool, creative hub where street and graffiti artists have changed the outlook of the area’s classic red brick walls. Order a drink in one of the newest bars in the area, The Ruin, which also recently unveiled a mural-style map featuring 12 independent and unique neighbours, together called ‘The Digbeth Dozen’. Created by Birmingham graffiti artist Title (Andy Mills) it features venues such as the street-food focused Digbeth Dining Club, where you can stop by for a bite to eat on Fridays and Saturdays.

19:00 Birmingham is one of England’s cultural hubs, and an evening can be spent enjoying a production at one of its theatres. Check out the Birmingham Repertory Theatre for classic and contemporary theatre, the New Alexandra Theatre for its mix of musicals, comedy, drama and concerts, or the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), which boasts four performance auditoria presenting a wide range of contemporary work across a variety of genres.

Getting there: Birmingham has its own international airport and can also be reached by train from both London and Manchester in 90 minutes.

7 of the most Instagrammable winter walks near London

Crisp, clean air, winter sun shining, frost crunching underfoot – it’s the perfect time of year to take an invigorating walk across one of these picture-perfect routes, all within a couple of hours reach of the capital.

Thames Path National Trail

Embarking on this long-distance walking route (184 miles/294km) is an excellent way to discover the gorgeous scenery alongside the River Thames but even dipping in and out of it delivers a raft of Instagrammable sights that look beautiful bathed in winter sunshine and silvery frost. Rural tranquillity welcomes you as the Thames Path National Trail starts at the very source of the river in the Cotswolds, before meandering through several of south-east England’s rural counties and lovely villages. The trail also passes by towns and cities such as Oxford, Windsor and Henley, bringing further photo opportunities (university colleges, ‘dreaming spires’ and a castle or two to name just a few!) before heading through the charming leafy boroughs of Richmond and Kew, with the trail culminating at London’s historic Docklands. This is a perfect winter walking route as there are plenty of places to stop off to warm up en route; in fact, the trail has teamed up with the Hop Kettle Brewery to produce the Trail Ale Liquid Highway, a bespoke ale sold along the trail with a donation made to its upkeep with every one sold.

Time from central London: 2 hours to the start of the trail

Constable Country, Essex

The area of Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley has been attracting visitors keen to portray its beauty for centuries. One of Britain’s most famous painters, John Constable, depicted the stunning scenery here in several of his renowned works – it’s an area of pretty villages, picturesque meadows, ancient woodlands and a labyrinth of cute lanes. The Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Stour Valley area boasts many walking routes and, if you head to the National Trust at Flatford, you’ll see those very views, villages and hamlets that inspired Constable’s famous works, The Hay Wain and Flatford Mill, meaning you can capture the contemporary version.

Time from central London: 2 hours

Hampstead Heath Circular, north London

London and its suburbs are famous for their green spaces, so you can experience a stunning winter walk without travelling out too far from the capital’s centre. Hampstead Heath to the north of the capital is a popular place to stroll, with several trails available. If you’re on the circular route, you’ll have the chance to snap pictures of Victorian architecture dotted along Hampstead High Street, the famous Hampstead Ponds and the magnificent panoramic views across central London once you’ve climbed Parliament Hill. Heading back down from the Heath you can also take in the genteel Kenwood House, which houses important works of art, and the elegant Hampstead Grove.

Time from central London: 30 minutes

Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

The grounds of the National Trust’s Waddesdon Manor are ideal for exploring at this time of year – the even come with their very own Winter Garden. The route around the Winter Gardens emphasises the country manor estate’s finest points, with views back to Flint House – a unique-looking building in the grounds that is used to accommodate academics and artists working with Waddesdon’s educational and artistic programme and which also won the RIBA House of the Year Award in 2015 – and highlights the remarkable bronze and black colours of the Winter Garden’s features. Take time to walk to the Aviary Glade and visit its exotic species of birds, stop for a picture with the amazing 3D plant sculptures or the awesome contemporary sculpture dotted throughout the gardens, before warming up again with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in its Stables Café.

Time from central London: 1 ¾ hours

Saxon Shore Way, Kent and East Sussex

It may well be a long-distance pathway – stretching from Gravesend in Kent, hugging the south-east England coastline and ending in Hastings, East Sussex 163 miles (262km) away, but joining any part of the Saxon Shore Way will have you reaching for your camera phone. It traverses through two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a number of Nature Reserves where you’ll spot a multitude of birds, butterflies and mammals. Must-see panoramic views to capture digitally include the route along the cliffs from Folkestone to Rye as well as the vista you’re rewarded with as you walk along the sandstone cliffs of the High Weald at Hastings.

Time from central London: 2 hours

Leith Hill, Surrey

Close to the charming market town of Dorking is Leith Hill, looked after by the National Trust – endeavour to climb this hill and you’ll be rewarded with astounding views over the county of Surrey and the Surrey Hills. Come on a clear day and you may well be able to see London to the north and the coastline to the south too. With plenty of walking trails through open heathland or woodland you’ll get to experience different terrains but the pièce de résistance of views you’ll want to capture on camera is from the top of Leith Hill Tower – this is the highest point of south-east England and you’ll discover why this part of the landscape is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Time from central London: 1.5 hours

Coombe Hill & Chequers, Chiltern Hills

Ever wondered what the British Prime Minister’s grand country residence looked like? Embark on this 8.5-mile walk through countryside landscapes looked after by the National Trust, and you can find out! The route also includes the chance to climb to the Boer War Memorial at the top of Coombe Hill in the county of Buckinghamshire and, from here, you’ll experience the spectacular views across to the Cotswold and Aylesbury Vale and even catch a glimpse of distant landmarks via the toposcope located on top of the hill. That’s before you’ve walked through stunning woodlands, the pretty village of Ellesborough and the footpath that then leads you past the driveway entrance of Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country retreat.

Time from central London: 1.5 hours