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

Stunning Scotland walks to do this summer

Scotland’s majestic highlands and lowlands, magnificent coastline and picturesque national parks guarantee scenery to take your breath away. So why not pull on a pair of good walking shoes, pack up a picnic and head out on an invigorating walk to drink in these incredible views. We bring you just a few of the best to embark on as we look forward to those long summer days.

 

Lady Mary’s Walk, Crieff, Perthshire

Short distance

Verdant woodland and tranquil riverside views along the banks of the River Earn greet walkers along this pretty four-mile track. Named after Lady Mary Murray, whose family were local early 19th-century landowners, the walk steers you past an old railway line, a small sandy beach and cute elements such as benches with poems carved into them. The variety of trees along the walk – some of which are more than 150 years old – is sublime, ranging from beech and oak to lime and sweet chestnut trees. See them in full bloom in the summer or come in the autumn for awesome canopies of burnished red and dazzling yellow. The walks also take you over Laggan Hill – a great stopping point to catch your breath and step back to admire the surrounding countryside.

Bring your camera for: the abundance of wildlife – otters, kingfishers, herons and oystercatchers all call this place home.

How to get there: The nearest rail stations are at Perth and Gleneagles – travel to either from Glasgow within an hour – then take a bus or hire a car to Crieff.

 

Loch Ness 360°, Highlands

Long distance

A new complete trail pathway looping around the entire circumference of this famous loch in the Scottish Highlands is due to be ready this summer, called Loch Ness 360°. The 3.6km section of the South Loch Ness Trail will link up with the Great Glen Way, which heads up the north side of the loch. Approximately 70 miles in total and marked clearly throughout, there are plenty of guesthouses and B&Bs to stay along the way – as well as some fantastic historic sites. The walk begins in Inverness, heads down the Great Glen Way on the north side of Loch Ness via Drumnadrochit and Invermoriston and over to the pretty town of Fort Augustus. From there pick up the South Loch Ness Trail and head back to Inverness.

Bring your camera for: When you spot Nessie of course! Also, for the sheer number of gorgeous views of Loch Ness itself.

How to get there: It takes around 25 minutes by bus from Inverness, itself 3.5 hours by train from Edinburgh.

 

John Muir Way, central Scotland

Long distance

Scotland is home to the remarkable 134 miles (216 kilometres) long John Muir Way, a coast-to-coast route where walkers encounter both beautiful scenery and a taste of Scotland’s ancient, industrial and urban landscapes. Although a long walk, there are plenty of places to stop along the way and most of the route is flat with easy gradients, plus a few hill climbs. You’ll pass by the Roman-built Antonine Wall barrier, once-abandoned canals and the famous banks of Loch Lomond. Most walkers journey west-east in ten stages, from coastal Helensburgh to Dunbar, where Muir himself (who was well known for championing the USA’s Yosemite National Park) grew up.

Bring your camera for: Views of the incredible engineering achievements of the Falkirk Wheel and Forth Rail Bridge.

How to get there: Direct trains link Helensburgh with Glasgow in 45 minutes, and Dunbar with Edinburgh in 25 minutes.

 

Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh

Short distance

A decent hill walk in the centre of a city is easily achieved in Scotland. Head up on this short walk from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to Arthur’s Seat in the Scottish capital’s Holyrood Park. An ancient volcano, Arthur’s Seat sits 251 metres above sea level, resulting in amazing, panoramic views of Edinburgh below. You will need your energy to hike up to Arthur’s Seat so if you’re looking for a slightly easier walk with views out over the best of the city, walk the Salisbury Crags. However, if you choose to hike to Arthur’s Seat the rewards are great – as well as the views you can visit the 15th century St Anthony’s Chapel and Duddingston Loch.

Bring your camera for: the stunning views across Edinburgh.

How to get there: Bus or walk to Holyrood Park from the city centre.

 

Falls of Clyde and New Lanark, Lanarkshire, southern Scotland

Short distance

Discover powerful waterfalls and inviting riverside walks at the Falls of Clyde, which you can reach via the historic New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Site. The route also takes walkers past a wooded gorge, fields and woodland as well as to a peregrine falcon watching area. Make sure you stop by at the visitor centre first to pick up interesting information about the area, as well as details on badger and bat walks and the many species of birds found here.

Bring your camera for: the viewpoint for the Corra Linn. This 27-metre waterfall was described by the famous 18th-century poet William Wordsworth as 'the Clyde's most majestic daughter'.

How to get there: The train takes an hour from Glasgow to Lanark, which is 1.5 miles/2.5 km from New Lanark, and then take the bus.

 

Loch Morlich, Cairngorms National Park, Highlands

Walking the loop around Loch Morlich, set in the heart of Glenmore Forest, offers extraordinary views of the northern Cairngorm mountains. This 3.75-mile route is all the more charming because of the sheer diversity of the natural surroundings; here you’ll experience a mountain backdrop, beaches to relax on when the sun shines, and pine-scented forests to explore.

Bring your camera for: the award-winning Loch Morlich Beach.

How to get there: Train to Aviemore from Glasgow in 2.5 hours and then a 20-minute bus or taxi.