Nature Reserves Walks
Nature Reserves are a great place for a walk in peaceful surroundings. You will often find nature trails, woodland walks and interesting flora and fauna.
Please use the links below to view full route information including descriptions, elevation profiles, interactive maps and GPS downloads.
You can also view an overview map of all the routes in the using the Nature Reserves Walk Map
|Abberton Reservoir||10 miles (16 km)||This is a circular cycle ride on the quiet roads and country lanes surrounding this large reservoir near Colchester, Essex. It starts at the visitor centre and takes you to Great Wigborough, Peldon and Malting Green. This route is designed for cyclists but walkers can enjoy walks from the visitor centre at the start of this route. The reservoir is excellent for bird watching with thousands of wildlfowl to look out for on the water. These include Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Coot and Black-headed Gull which can be spotted from the three bird hides. The visitor centre also has a wealth of information on the wildlife you can expect to see in this lovely wetlands area.|
If you'd like to extend your walking in the area then you could head south and visit the lovely Mersea Island. The round the island circular walk visits a number of nice beaches and the pretty Cudmore Grove Country Park.
|Allen Banks and Staward Gorge||3 miles (5 km)||Enjoy a waterside walk along the River Allen and through a beautiful wooded gorge on this easy walk in the North Pennines AONB. The area is managed by the National Trust so the paths are well maintained and waymarked.|
The walk starts at the National Trust car park and heads south along the western side of the river to Plankey Mill. You'll pass Raven Crag and a pretty waterfall on the way. At Plankey Mill you cross to the other side the river and return on the eastern side, passing Morralee Woods as you go.
The area is a nature reserve so there is an abundance of wildlife on the walk. Look out for dipper, grey wagtail, kingfisher, heron, roe deer and otter.
The area is located near Bardon Mill, Hexham. Bardon Mill train station is just over a mile from start point for the walk. You can easily follow the River South Tyne from the station to Allen Banks.
|Anston Stones||2 miles (4 km)||Anston Stones Wood is a biological site of Special Scientific Interest in Anston, South Yorkshire. It's a nice place for a peaceful stroll with interesting vegetation and the Anston Brook running through the woods. The site is a local nature reserve consisting of grassland, scrub and wetland. The woodland is the second best example of limestone woodland in South Yorkshire. |
The area is known for its limestone gorges and interesting geological features. As such it is very popular with rock climbers. There is also an Ice Age Cave known as 'Dead Man's cave'. In the 1960's ancient flint tools from the ice age and animal bones from animals such reindeer and hyena were uncovered.
The walk can be extended by heading east to Woodsetts via Lindrick Common. Just to the north is Swinston Hill Wood and if you head south you can pick up the Cuckoo Way and enjoy a stroll along the Chesterfield Canal.
|Aqualate Mere||2 miles (3.5 km)||Enjoy a peaceful walk through this lovely nature reserve near Newport, Staffordshire. In the reserve you'll find well surfaced footpaths taking you through pretty woodland and along the large mere which is the largest natural lake in the West Midlands. The area is great for birdwatching too. Look out for Eurasian curlew and common snipe from one of the bird hides. The reedbed habitat also supports reed warbler and sedge warbler while marsh harrier and osprey have also been seen in the area.|
This walk takes you to the reserve from the village of Forton just north of Newport. You can also reach the reserve by bike using National Cycle Network Route 55 and Regional Route 75.
|Ardingly Reservoir||5 miles (8 km)||This 198 acre reservoir and nature reserve has a lovely waterside walking path ideal for an easy stroll. The walk starts at the parking lot at the southern end of the reservoir and take you around the perimeter to the village of Balcombe before returning to the start point. As a nature reserve you will pass through a variety of habitats including wetland, reedbed, deciduous woodland, hazel coppice and haymeadow. Look out for Great crested grebe and kingfishers as you make your way round the reservoir.|
Ardingly is located near Haywards Heath in West Sussex. It is right next to the stunning Wakehurst Place which has beautiful gardens and is a great option if you'd like to continue your walking. Alternatively the High Weald Landscape Trail can also be picked up from the edge of Wakehurst Place.
|Arlington Reservoir||2 miles (3 km)||Enjoy a nice easy stroll around the pretty Arlington Reservoir on this short circular walk near Hailsham. There's parking on the western side of the reservoir and a good path running around the perimeter. The walk includes a woodland section at the start before reaching the dam where there are fabulous views across the Downs and the Long Man of Wilmington, The area is also a nature reserve and excellent for bird watching with 173 recorded bird species and a wintering population of up to 10,000 wildfowl. Look out for great crested grebe, swallow, mallard, pied wagtail and cormorants.These can best be observed from the bird hide.|
The reservoir can also be easily accessed by train - get off at Berwick station and a short walk north takes you to the start of the walk.
If you'd like to continue your walking in the area then you could pick up either the Vanguard Way or the Wealdway which both run past Arlington.
About a mile to the east you will find the pretty Abbot's Wood. There's two nice waymarked walking trails to try in the bluebell woods.
|Arne Nature Reserve||3 miles (5 km)||This beautiful coastal nature reserve is located near Wareham in Dorset. There are miles of footpaths to follow through woodland, heathland and countryside to the stunning coastline. Here you can enjoy fabulous views of the islands in Poole harbour and look out for a wide variety of coastal birdlife. Visitors include wading birds, ducks, avocets, black-tailed godwits, curlew and brent geese. Ospreys are regularly seen on migration in late summer and in autumn.|
With 1,392 acres to explore you can spend most of the day at the reserve. The area also has a large herd of Sika Deer which are usually seen in the fields but are often near the waters edge too.
There's a friendly visitor centre next to the car park where you can learn all about the reserve.
If you would like to continue your walk then the Purbeck Way runs through nearby Wareham. Here you can also enjoy a lovely waterside stroll along the River Frome. The Blue Pool is also nearby so you could continue your outing at this lovely turquoise lake and nature reserve.
|Ashford Hill Nature Reserve||2 miles (3.5 km)||Explore the old water meadows and woodland in this pretty nature reserve near Newbury. You can start the walk from the car park at the Ship Inn in the village of Ashford Hill. From here you pick up footpaths through the nature reserve towards Haughurst Hill and Sleepers Copse. The reserve is great for wildlife spotting with several species of butterfly to look out for amongst the wildflowers.|
The Brenda Parker Way long distance footpath runs through the reserve so there is scope for extending your walk. Also nearby is Wasing Wood, riverside paths along the River Enborne and Greenham Common. The expansive area of heathland is covered in heather and gorse and has nice wide footpaths, wetland areas and wildflower filled grasslands with horses and ponies to look out for.
|Ashtead Common National Nature Reserve||3 miles (5 km)||This 500 acre ancient wooded common is also a National Nature Reserve. There are miles of quiet cycling and walking paths taking you to woodland, scrub grassland, a meadow, ponds and streams. There are also two ancient Scheduled Monuments - a Roman villa and a triangular earthwork. |
The route below begins and ends at the conveniently located Ashtead Railway Station at the southern end of the common. The adjacent Epsom Common is a great option if you would like to continue your outing. Horton Country Park is nearby while the Thames Down Link also runs past the site.
|Aston Rowant Nature Reserve||5 miles (8.5 km)||Enjoy a circular walk around this wonderful nature reserve in the Chilterns and climb Beacon Hill on the way. The reserve is a splendid place for walking with miles of good paths taking you through woodland, chalk grassland and some lovely Chilterns countryside. It's a wonderful place for flora and fauna with flowers such as orchids, the Chiltern gentian and various wildflowers. The attractive mixed woodland includes beech, yew, and juniper. As for wildlife look out for Red Kites soaring above and butterflies such as the silver-spotted skipper and the Adonis blue. You may also see Dartmoor Ponies, Roe deer, feral goats and buzzards. |
This walk starts in the good sized Cowleaze Wood car park and takes you through pretty bluebell woods before reaching Beacon Hill where you can enjoy wonderful views of the reserve and Chiltern Hills. The route then descends on the Ridgeway, before passing Bald Hill and returning to the car park.
If you'd like to continue your walking in this lovely area then you could head to the nearby Christmas Common and Watlington Hill where there is more beautiful flora and fauna.
|Attenborough Nature Reserve||4 miles (6 km)||Explore over 350 acres of lakes, wetland, woodland, grassland and scrub in this popular nature reserve near Nottingham. The reserve sits at the confluence of the River Erewash and the River Trent and contains several large lakes which attract a wide variety of birdlife. Look out for shoveler, diving ducks and herons. |
There is also an excellent nature centre with interactive educational displays and a cafe overlooking the lakes and islands of the reserve.
The reserve is right next to Attenborough train station and on the Trent Valley Way walking route, so you have the option of continuing your walk on this riverside footpath.
The Erewash Valley Trail cycle and walk trail also passes through the reserve so you could pick this up also.
|Aylesbeare Common||3 miles (5 km)||This circular walk takes you around the lovely Aylesbeare Common RSPB reserve in Devon. There are miles of good footpaths crossing the common, including the East Devon Way. The area consists of heathland, woodland, streams and ponds with a wide variety of wildlife to look out for. These include birds such as Dartford warblers, nightjars and stonechats plus various butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. |
The walk can be extend by heading south west along the East Devon Way to the Hawkerland Valley and Woodbury Common. Here you will find miles of walking trails through heathland and heather with an ancient hill fort. If you head east you will soon come to Harpford Wood and Harpford Common where you can climb Beacon Hill for great views to Sidmouth and the coast.
|Banagher Glen||5 miles (8 km)||Follow the riverside trail through these ancient oak woodlands and look out for red squirrels on this walk through the beautiful Banagher Glen Nature Reserve. The walk takes you through a steep ravine along the Altnaheglish river leading to the Altnaheglish Reservoir at the end of the route. Along the way you'll pass oak, ash, hazel, hawthorn and holly trees with lots of wildlife to look out for. There's also pretty waterfalls, wonderful views of the Sperrin Mountains and the splendid Banagher Dam to enjoy.|
You can start the walk from the car park at Strone Hill, a few miles south of Dungiven. From here you pick up the riverside trail heading east towards the reservoir, passing Teeavan Hill and Streeve Mountain.
|Barton Hills||2 miles (3 km)||Visit the Barton Hills National Nature Reserve and enjoy peaceful walking trails in the Chilterns. A series of footpaths take you to the attractive downland, chalk grassland and beech woodland. It's delightful in the summer months with a variety of wildflowers attracting butterflies such as marbled white and dark green fritillary. Look out for vegetation including wild thyme, horseshoe vetch, marjoram and orchids as you make your way along the paths. It's a great area for wildlife too with lots of different birds and mammals such as stoats, weasels and hares. You can start your walk from the little town of Barton-le-Clay which lies just to the north of the reserve. Follow the John Bunyan Trail through the town and south to the reserve. |
To extend your walking in the area you can follow the John Bunyan Trail and the Icknield Way Path through the surrounding Bedfordshire countryside. The trails can take you east towards Hexton, Pegsdon and Pirton or south towards Luton. The video below shows an exploration of the Barton and Pegsdon Hills from Hexton. From there you can enjoy a climb with wonderful views over the surrounding area. Also nearby is the village of Streatley and Sundon Hills Country Park. This includes the climb to Sharpenhoe Clappers where there is an Iron Age Hillfort and more great views to enjoy.
|Bedford Purlieus National Nature Reserve||2 miles (3.5 km)||These splendid ancient woods near Peterborough have miles of woodland walking trails to try. The area is a hidden gem with 520 acres of ancient woodland to explore. The extensive flora includes beech, birch, field maple, bluebells, primroses, celandines, violets and wood anemones, wild strawberries and garlic. There's also lots of wildlife to look out for including deer, cuckoo, foxes, red kites and buzzards. The woods contains more plant and insect species than most other woods in this country. |
Bedford Purlieus is located just to the west of the lovely riverside village of Wansford. The Nene Way long distance footpath runs through the village so you could pick this up to extend your walk.
|Beinn Eighe||3 miles (5 km)||Follow the Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail through a beautiful nature reserve on this circular walk near Kinlochewe. On the walk you will pass attractive pinewood woodland, mountainous lochs, white quartzite crags and pretty waterfalls. The views over Loch Maree and the Torridon Mountains are simply stunning. |
The route starts from the car park at the southern end of Loch Maree. From here you gain access to the waymarked mountain trail. The trail climbs through woodland and past burns and waterfalls to the high point where you will find a small loch and a cairn.
It's a challenging walk with steep and rocky sections.
|Bempton Cliffs||7 miles (12 km)||Bempton Cliffs RSPB Nature Reserve is considered the best place in England to watch seabirds. Start species include Puffins, Gannets, Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills. In the summer months it is a spectacular sight with hundreds of thousands of birds around the cliffs. The RSPB have created several cliff-edge viewing platforms from which to observe the action.|
This walk starts at the reserve car park and heads along the coast in an easterly direction before turning back and heading west towards Buckton Cliffs. A lovely footpath then heads away from the coast and into the countryside towards Bempton. A country lane from Bempton then takes you back to the car park. As such the walk provides both great coastal scenery and views of the North York Moors countryside.
You can easily continue your walk along the East Riding Heritage Way towards the wonderful Flamborough Head.
|Bentley Priory||3 miles (5 km)||This walk explores the Bentley Priory nature reserve in Harrow. The reserve has good footpaths to follow to 55 hectares of ancient woodland, grassland, scrub, wetland, streams and a lake. In the reserve you will find a variety of wildflower such as spotted orchid. Look out for birds including buzzard, spotted flycatcher, and bullfinch.|
You can park at the Stanmore Common car park and pick up the London Loop to the reserve. Other public footpaths will take you past the deer park and the lake.
There's lots of good options for extending your walk in this area. If you head west along the London Loop you can visit Harrow Weald Common and Oxhey Woods with its splendid, easy access sculpture trail. The Stanmore Common walk starts from the same start point as this walk.
|Blakeney Point Nature Reserve||4 miles (6.5 km)||This beautiful National Nature Reserve on the Norfolk coast is a four-mile-long sand and shingle spit with sand dunes, salt marshes, tidal mudflats and farmland. There is a mixed colony of around 500 seals which can be seen on the beach or from boat trips departing from Morston Quay to Blakeney Point.|
The visitor centre at Morston Quay is a good place to start your outing. It has a wealth of information about the area and you can catch a boat from the pretty quay to the nature reserve at Blakeney Point. Then you can walk through the reserve where you will find a variety of rare flora and fauna. Look out for interesting plantlife including Sea Lavenders, Yellow-Horned Poppy and the white petals of Sea Campion. There is also an abundance of wildlife with migrant terns, the resident seals, wintering wildfowl and the occasional otter. The walk below takes you along the soft shingle beach and then on to the lifeboat house.
The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path runs past the reserve so you have the option of following this trail to some other lovely locations in the area. On the trail to the west is the Stiffkey Salt Marsh where you will find a vast open expanse of salt marshes which attracts large numbers of birdlife including waders and wintering wildfowl. If you head east along the trail you will pass Blakeney with its pretty key and then on to the Cley Marshes Nature Reserve. This 430 acre reserve contains reed beds, freshwater marsh, pools and wet meadows.
|Blean Woods National Nature Reserve||6 miles (9 km)||Enjoy miles of cycling and walking paths in the ancient woodland of Blean Woods near Canterbury.|
|Blue Pool Dorset||2 miles (3 km)||This extraordinary lake in Dorset is located near Wareham and Corfe Castle. Particles of clay in the water diffract reflected light, meaning the pool changes colour regularly. At any time it could be a 'cloudy' grey, green, or more typically a beautiful turquoise. Surrounding the lake are a number of sandy walking paths and peaceful woodland trails. Steps take you to a vantage point where you get great views of the pool and the surrounding Purbeck Hills. The Blue Pool is also a nature reserve. Look out for the Dartford warbler, nightjar, Silka deer, squirrels, rabbits and badgers. The site also contains a Giftshop, Museum, Tea-house and Plant Centre.|
The Purbeck Way runs past the site so you could pick this up if you would like to continue your walk. If you head south east along the trail you will soon come to Corfe Castle where you can visit the fascinating castle ruins and enjoy a climb across Corfe Common. The delightful Arne Nature Reserve is also nearby so this is another good option.
|Braunton Burrows||4 miles (6 km)||Explore the expansive sand dune system of this beautiful nature reserve on the North Devon Coast and enjoy wildlife, coastal views and a variety of specialised plants. |
Braunton Burrows covers nearly 900 hectares making it the second largest dune system in England. Almost 500 species of plant have been recorded making Braunton the most biodiverse parish in England. Plant species include sea stock, sand toadflax, bee orchid and water germander. It's also great for wildlife with hundreds of rabbits, 33 species of butterfly and birds which include the Ringed Plover.
You can easily extend your walk by heading to the coast and enjoying a stroll along the lovely Saunton Sands. The Tarka Trail also passes the reserve so you could pick this up and head to the estuary of the Rivers Taw and Torridge which is a short distance away.
This circular walk starts from the car park at the end of Sandy Lane but you could also start from Braunton village and follow the Tarka Trail to the reserve.
|Brean Down||2 miles (4 km)||Explore this beautiful natural pier and enjoy wonderful coastal views on this walk on the Somerset coast. The promontory stands at 318 feet (97 m) high and is a a continuation of the Mendip Hills. As such there is some climbing involved but you are rewarded with wonderful views of the Bristol Channel, south Wales and Weston Super Mare. At the seaward end you will find Brean Down Fort which was built in 1865 and then re-armed in the Second World War. |
The area is a nature reserve and has an abundance of interesting flora and fauna. Look out for birds including peregrine falcon, dunnock and kestrel. Butterfly species include chalkhill blue, dark green fritillary, meadow brown and marbled white. In the summer months there are lots of pretty wildflowers and plants including Somerset hair grass, wild thyme, horseshoe vetch and birds-foot-trefoil.
This circular walk starts at the car park and takes you to the fort, Howe Rock and Sprat Beach at the end of the promontory. You return on an alternative path. There is a cafe at car park where you can enjoy refreshments after your walk.
If you'd like to cycle to the reserve then you could follow National Cycle Network route 33 from Burnham-on-Sea or Weston-super-Mare.
|Bridestones||2 miles (3 km)||Visit these fascinating sandstone sculptures on this splendid walk in Dalby Forest. The geologically significant area dates back to the Jurassic period 150 million years ago. The Bridestones is a nature reserve with good footpaths taking you around the rocks to woodland and meadows with fabulous views from the reserve's elevated position. The area is run by the National Trust so there is a car park off Dalby Forest Drive near Staindale Lake and Adderstone Wood. From here you can pick up the walking trails taking you up to the stones. It's great in the summer with lots of wildflowers, heather, butterflies and birds to look out for.|
There are good options for extending your walk. You can pick up the footpath along the Staindale Beck or around Staindale Lake. The wider area of Dalby Forest has several different cycling and walking trails to try. A couple of miles to the west is the wonderful natural amphitheatre of the Hole of Horcum. There's more good trails to follow here through moorland and woodland.
Langdale Forest is also just to the east.
The Tabular Hills Walk long distance trail also runs past the site. You can follow it Dalby Forest and the Hole of Horcum.
|Bridgwater Bay National Nature Reserve||2 miles (2.5 km)||Explore this beautiful nature reserve on this short walk in the Somerset Levels. The reserve is situated on the mouth of the River Parrett with lovely views over the estuary to Stert Island and Burnham-on-Sea. It consists of extensive areas of mudflats, sand banks, reed beds and saltmarshes attracting a large number of birds. Look out for shelduck, curlew, redshank and oystercatcher from the excellent elevated bird hide. There is also an abundance of interesting flora with wildflowers and plants including Somerset hair grass,wild thyme, horseshoe vetch and birds-foot-trefoil. |
Steart Marshes nature reserve is also located on the south side of the peninsula with otters, egrets, owls waders and wildfowl to look out for.
The River Parret Trail starts from Bridgwater Bay so you can pick this up to extend your walking in the area. The lovely waterside trail heads south to the nearby village of Combwich and then on to Bridgwater.
This walk start from the Steart car park but you could also start from Combwich or Bridgwater and follow the River Parret Trail to the reserve.
You could also head west along the estuary towards Hinckley Point Nuclear Power Station. It's a lovely walk with great views of the Sterte Flats and Catsford Common.
|Broadwater Warren||2 miles (3 km)||This delightful RSPB nature reserve in Tunbridge Wells has a nice nature trail and an all ability path to try. You can pick up the walking trails at the car park at Broadwater Forest Lane. The waymarked trail guides you through the reserve's woodland, wetland and open heath with lots of wildlife to look out for on the way. This includes nightjars, dormice and dragonflies around the pond. There's also a section along a boardwalk which takes you through an area of wet woodland.|
Just to the south of the reserve you will find Eridge Rocks Nature Reserve. It's well worth extending your walk here. You'll find a series of large boulders, woodland trails and a wide variety of interesting plant species.
The Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk also passes the southern edge of the site. You can pick this up to explore the countryside surrounding the town. Tunbridge Wells Common is also nearby with its sandstone outcrops, heathland and nice woodland trails.
The reserve is located just to the south west of Tunbridge Wells. You can reach it by bike by following National Cycle Network Route 18 from the town centre.
|Brockadale Nature Reserve||2 miles (2.5 km)||This lovely nature reserve near Pontefract has miles of woodland walking trails and a riverside path along the River Went. You can reach the reserve by following a footpath along the River Went from the nearby village of Wentbridge or from the car park on Leys Lane just east of the reserve. At the reserve you can visit the steep sided gorge of the River Went with its craggy cliffs and interesting vegetation. It's a really beautiful place in the spring and summer months with carpets of bluebells and lots wildflowers which attract a variety of butterflies. Look out for Marbled White, Dark Green Fritillary, Small Tortoiseshell and Gatekeeper. There's also dragonflies, yellow hammer birds, woodpeckers, foxes and common lizards to look out for. There's a wide diversity of plantlife with 350 plant species including cowslip, orchids, bellflower and common dog-violet.|
To extend your walk you could continue east along public footpaths towards Kirk Smeaton and Little Smeaton.
|Brockholes Nature Reserve||2 miles (3.5 km)||This lovely nature reserve near Preston has lots of nice footpaths to follow around a series of lakes. The area has been transformed from an old quarry into a splendid wetland and woodland nature reserve. There's miles of surfaced trails to follow through 250 acres of pools, reedbeds and woodland. The site also includes the nations first floating visitor village. This includes a lovely lakeside cafe and a visitor centre with a wealth of information on the wildlife visiting the reserve. This includes heron, great crested grebe, osprey, roe deer, otter and bittern. There are a number of hides and lookout points from which to observe the birds.|
There's a good sized car park at the site but if you'd like to visit the reserve by bike then National Route 622 and the Preston Guild Wheel will take you into Brockholes from nearby Preston. There's cycle racks by the car park where you can lock up your bike.
The Ribble Way long distance walk also passes the site so you could pick this up and enjoy a riverside stroll. Heading north will take you towards Grimsargh, while heading west takes you to Fishwick Bottoms and Avenham Park in Preston.
|Brown Moss Nature Reserve||1 miles (2 km)||Enjoy a series of walking trails in this delightful nature reserve near Whitchurch. The site is 77 acres and includes marshes, pools, heathland and woodland. It's great for bird watching with woodpeckers, jays, Canada goose, mallard and great crested grebe regular visitors. Look out for froglets, dragonflies and great crested newts around the wetland areas.|
|Broxbourne Woods||9 miles (14.5 km)||Follow the Broxbourne Woods Nature Trail on this splendid walk in Hertfordshire. The site is Hertfordshire's only National Nature Reserve and includes Wormley Woods, Cowheath Wood and Hoddesdonpark Wood. You'll pass attractive Hornbeam coppice, tranquil ponds, pretty meadows and field edges as you make your way along the figure of eight trail. The woods have car parks on White Stubbs Lane where you can pick up the waymarked trails.|
This 9 mile walk takes you around most of the site but there are shorter walks and mountain bike trails for cyclists too. In the heart of the forest there is a 1km sculpture trail with several beautifully carved wooden pieces. These include a life size Roman soldier and a magnificent stag. Each sculpture illustrates something interesting about the forest, highlighting the historical importance of the woods and taking a close up look at the nature and wildlife that lives there. The video below gives and example of what you can expect to see on the trail. For cyclists there are some fun single-track rides to enjoy too.
If you'd like to extend your walking in the area then there are several good options. You could head west and visit Northaw Great Wood. This country park has 300 acres of woodland to explore.
The Hertfordshire Chain Walk and the Hertfordshire Way also pass the site. The Hertfordshire Chain Walk actually passes through the western end of the woods. You could pick this up and head south towards Cuffley and Enfield where you will pass Whitewebbs Park.
|Bude Marshes||3 miles (5 km)||This delightful local nature reserve in Bude is a great escape from the busy seaside town centre. You can enjoy a stroll along the Bude canal tow path with views of the River Neet. An off road National Cycle Network route runs along the opposite side.|
Habitats in the reserve include reed bed, wet grassland, woodland and willow carr. You can look out for a variety of birds from the bird hide, while otters can also been seen around the canal and river.
|Burnham Beeches||2 miles (2.5 km)||This National Nature Reserve and woodland has miles of good walking trails to try. The area consists mostly of beech woodland with lots of peaceful woodland footpaths to follow. There's also ponds, streams, grassland and heathland with over 500 acres to explore. The reserve is great for wildlife too. Look out for Exmoor Ponies, Berkshire Pigs, Jacob Sheep and grazing cattle. Facilities are very good with a car park off Lord Mayors Drive and a nice cafe.|
Burnham Beeches proximity to London and the beauty of the area attracts over half a million visitors per year. It has been used as a film location for Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1.
Please note this circular route is devised for walkers but cyclists can enjoy a network of tarmac surfaced roads, the majority of which are closed to cars. Click here for a map showing the the cycle trails. Please note off road cycling is not permitted in the reserve.
If you'd like to extend your outing then you can pick up the Beeches Way which runs through the reserve. If you head east you'll come to Farnham Common and Stoke Common where you'll find attractive Gorse and Heather heathland. If you follow the trail west it will take you to Cookham and the delightful Cliveden House. The Italianate mansion is surrounded by beautiful parkland and gardens with miles of walking trails and views of the River Thames.
|Castle Eden Dene||3 miles (5 km)||Enjoy miles of woodland trails, pretty streams, rushing waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife in this splendid nature reserve in Peterlee. The reserve is the largest area of semi-natural woodland in north-east England. There are well surfaced trails running along the pretty Castle Eden Burn and through the atmospheric gorge. |
There are two waymarked nature trails to try. The Yew trail runs for 2 miles following the Yew markers. On this trail you'll pass the reserve's majectic Yews and climb Craggy Bank where you can look out for nuthatches and goldcrests. The Squirrel trail also runs for about 2 miles following the squirrel markers.
The reserve contains over 450 species of plant including wild garlic (ransoms) with their distintive aroma, pretty yellow primroses, lily-of-the-valley and bird's-nest orchid. In the spring months there are also carpets of bluebells to admire. It's great for wildlife too. Look out for roe deer, foxes and numerous different types of bird as you make your way along the trails.
You can start your walk from the car park on Stanhope Chase. National Cycle Network Route 1 passes through Peterlee and close to the reserve if you would like to visit by bike. Please note that cycling is not permitted within the reserve though.
This walk starts at the Stanhope Chase car park and explores the western section of the reserve. You can head east and walk all the way to the coast where you can pick up the Durham Coastal Footpath.
To extend your walking in the area you can pick up the Castle Eden Walkway and follow the disused railway line to the lovely Wynyard Woodland Park.
|Castor Hanglands||4 miles (6 km)||Explore the woodland, limestone, wetland grassland and scrub in this large National Nature Reserve near Peterborough.|
|Cemlyn Bay||2 miles (2.5 km)||Enjoy a stroll along Cemlyn Bay and lagoon on this delightful coastal walk on the Isle of Anglesey. The circular path starts at the car park at the north western corner of the reserve and runs along the coast next to Cemlyn Bay before heading inland and circling the lagoon. You can enjoy a stroll along the shingle beach and around the little rock pools before heading towards the nearby Wilfa Power Station. The countryside around the reserve is also very attractive with wildflowers, orchids and heather to enjoy in the summer months.|
It's a great place for wildlife spotting with various coastal birds to look out for. These include Ringed Plover, Arctic Terns, Oystercatcher and Shelduck. The colony of Sandwich terns is the third largest in the UK.
The Anglesey Coast Path passes the reserve so you could pick this up to extend your walk.
You can virtually explore the area south of the lagoon by clicking on the google street view link below! This shows the good surfaced footpaths that you will find on the site.
|Chobham Common||3 miles (5.5 km)||Enjoy a circular walk or cycle around this large common in Surrey. The common covers hundreds of acres and has a series of good footpaths over grassland, lowland heath and woodland. The area is also crisscrossed with wide bridleways which are ideal for an off road cycle.|
Chobham Common is the largest National Nature Reserve in the south east of England. As such there is a diverse range of flora and fauna. Look out for over 100 species of bird including the rare dartford warbler, the hobby and the nightjar. In the wetland areas look out for frogs, newts, adders, grass snakes, lizards, slow worms, foxes and possibly deer. Plants and flowers include purple heather, gorse and orchids. It's a really attractive area with lots of nice stony footpaths to follow. You could easily spend a few hours strolling around looking out for wildlife.
This circular walk starts at the car park on Staple Hill and follows various footpaths past Albury Bottom to Gracious Pond. You then follow woodland paths and bridleways back to the car park.
If you would like to continue your walk then you could head a few miles north to the lovely Virginia Water Lake.
|Chorlton Water Park||1 miles (1.5 km)||Enjoy a walk or cycle around this large lake and nature reserve in Manchester. The well maintained trail runs for about a mile around the water. It's a nice easy cycle ride for families or an easy stroll. Look out for lots of birdlife on the water such as kingfisher, herons, geese and ducks. Facilties include a car parking area at the end of Maitland Avenue, toilets and an ice cream van in the summer months.|
The park is located right next to the River Mersey so you can continue your exercise along the river. National Cycle Network Route 62 runs through the park and continues along the Trans Pennine Trail to the nearby Sale Water Park.
Also nearby is the lovely Wythenshawe Park. It's only about a mile south of Chorlton and has miles of walking trails with wildflower meadows, pretty gardens, herbaceous borders, woodland and grassland.
|Clayton Vale||1 miles (2 km)||This large park and nature reserve in Manchester has miles of walking paths and some great mountain bike trails to try. You can start off at the National Cycling Centre in Philips park just to the east of Manchester city centre. From here you can pick up the mountain bike trails through Clayton Vale. There's 12km of colour coded trails for all abilities. The red easy trail is a great one for families with gentle, rollable, rideable features. At the other end of the scale is the black graded ride which is for expert mountain bikers. It has rocky sections and is tight, twisty and very challenging. In the middle the red trail includes rock slabs and gnarly rock gardens.|
Regional Cycle Route 86 also runs through the reserve. It's a nice ride along the River Medlock. This is the route shown below but you can see all the other trails on the Open Street Map link below.
The reserve is also great for walkers with the Medlock Valley Way passing through. In the reserve you can enjoy riverside paths, woodland trails, ponds and a variety of wildlife.
To extend your outing you could continue east along this long distance path and visit Medlock Vale, Medlock Hall and Daisy Nook Country Park. The Ashton Canal also passes by the National Cycling Centre. You can pick this up and head to Ashton-under-Lyne.
|Cley Marshes Nature Reserve||5 miles (8 km)||This walk takes you around the stunning Cley Marshes on the Norfolk coast at Cley next the Sea. You start at the windmill at Cley next the Sea and head through the reserve to the coast, before following a walking trail and country lanes through the countryside and returning to the windmill.|
Cley Marshes contains 430 acres of reed beds, freshwater marsh, pools and wet meadows. An abundance of rare birdlife can be seen at the site, including pied avocets on the islands, western marsh harriers, Eurasian bitterns and bearded reedlings. There are five bird hides and an excellent visitor centre with a cafe, shop, viewing areas (including viewing from a camera on the reserve) and an exhibition area.
Plantlife at the reserve includes biting stonecrop, sea campion, yellow horned poppy, sea thrift, bird's foot trefoil and sea beet. Wilidlife includes Water Voles, hares and otters.
If you would like to continue your walk the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path runs through the reserve so you could follow this trail west to Morston Quay and catch a boat to Blakeney Point Nature Reserve where can you go seal watching! A little further on is Stiffkey Salt Marsh where you will find a vast open expanse of salt marshes which attracts large numbers of birdlife including waders and wintering wildfowl.
|Cliffe Pools Nature Reserve||5 miles (7.5 km)||Enjoy a circular walk around this delightful RSPB nature reserve in the North Kent Marshes. You can stroll along the numerous pools and enjoy a riverside section along the Thames. It's brilliant for wildlife spotting with huge numbers of wintering waders to look out for.
Avocet, Lapwing, Little egret and Turtle Dove are all regular visitors to the site. |
Cliffe Pools is located close to Rochester and Gravesend. You can park in the little village of Cliffe and walk to the reserve from there quite easily. The Saxon Shore Way long distance walk runs past the site so you could walk from Gravesend along the Thames to the reserve. It is a five mile walk from the town centre.
|Coombe Bissett Down||3 miles (5 km)||Enjoy a short walk around this pretty nature reserve near Salisbury. The reserve is located just a few miles south west of Sailsbury and has nice walking tracks to try. The area is a chalk downland valley with a variety of plants to enjoy such as delicate harebells, bee orchid, devil's-bit scabious and the burnt orchid. It's great for wildlife too with butterflies including Adonis blue, chalkhill blue and dingy skipper and birds including Yellowhammer, goldfinch, and skylarks. The reserve includes a mixture of grassland and woodland.|
There are some slopes in the reserve so some climbing is required. You are rewarded with splendid views over the surrounding countryside of the Cranborne Chase AONB.
You can also enjoy a walk around the pretty little village of Coombe Bissett. There is a nice pub called the Fox and Goose, a church dating from the 12th century and lovely thatched cottages. The River Ebble also runs through the village.
|Corrie Fee Nature Reserve||5 miles (8 km)||Explore this beautiful natural amphitheatre created by a huge glacier thousands of years ago. The walk begins at the Glen Doll car park, Glen Clova. You then pick up a good footpath heading towards Corrie Fee through Glendoll Forest. The route crosses White Water and follows the pretty Fee Burn into the nature reserve. It's a stunning site with the magnificent bowl shaped valley backed by a large waterfall. There's also beautiful alpine flowers and rare mountain willows clinging to the steep crags. It's wonderful for wildlife too with golden eagles and peregrines visitors to the area. |
It's easy to extend your walk on one of the many trails in Glen Doll Forest. One good option is to continue along the lovely White Water where it branches off to the north west at around the half way point of the route. You can then follow Jock's Road up to Crow Craigies.
Also just to the north you will find the beautiful Loch Muick which has a fine circular trail to follow around the loch.
|Cors Caron||1 miles (1.5 km)||This short walk explores the delightful Cors Caron National Nature Reserve in Ceredigion. There is a lovely boardwalk at the south eastern end of the reserve. It's a nice easy stroll with great views over the reserve's raised bogs with surrounding reedbeds, grasslands, woodland, rivers, streams and ponds. It's a peaceful place with views of the River Teifi and the surrounding hills and countryside. The area supports a wide variety of wildlife including badger, blackcap, buzzard, Dartford warbler, fallow deer, nightingale, nightjar and willow warbler. You can also look out for otters around the Teifi and the rare red kite in the air. The reserve is located just north of Tregaron with a car park just off the B4343 .|
The Ystwyth Trail Cycle Route also passes the reserve so if you are visiting by bike you can follow this route from nearby Tregaron or Aberystwyth. The trail follows a disused railway line so can be used to extend your walk too.
|Craigellachie Nature Reserve||4 miles (6 km)||This large nature reserve in Aviemore has a number of splendid walking trails to try. In the reserve you can enjoy several small lochs, woodland trails and stunning views of the Cairngorms. You can follow the easier waymarked trails around the lochs before climbing to wonderful viewpoints. From here there are great views over Aviemore and towards Cairn Gorm. The area is also good for wildlife watching - look out for peregrine falcons on the rocky crags. The reserve is easy to reach, located close to the centre of Aviemore and the train station.|
|Culbin Forest||17 miles (28 km)||Enjoy a cycle or walk around this large coastal forest near Nairn. There are a huge number of tracks to choose from including the easy Hill 99 trail which is waymarked.|
The route below begins at the car park at the Culbin Forest Nature Reserve and takes you around the forest on various tracks. The route includes a visit to the Culbin Sands Nature Reserve on the coast at Nairn. Here you can see a variety of coastal birds including bar-tailed godwits, oystercatchers and knots. The route then heads back through the forest passing a series of idyllic woodland lochs before returning to the start point.
Other highlights in the forest include the beautiful Findhorn Bay where you can see ospreys and seals at the river-mouth and a view over the water towards the village of Findhorn. You can also climb the Hill 99 viewpoint trail where there are fabulous views of the surrounding area from the top of the viewpoint tower.
National Cycle Network Route route 1 runs just past the forest so there is scope for continuing your ride if you have time. The forest is located about 16 miles north east of Inverness.
|Donna Nook Nature Reserve||10 miles (16 km)||This coastal nature reserve in Lincolnshire consists of dunes, slacks and inter-tidal areas. It's a great place for birdwatching with 47 species of birds to look out for. In November and December you can see the grey seal colony give birth to their pups near the sand dunes. It's quite a spectacle and attracts thousands of visitors each year.|
This circular walk starts at the car park and takes you along the coast and then into the surrounding countryide on footpaths and country lanes. You'll visit the nearby villages of Grainthorpe and North Somercotes before returning to the reserve car park.
|Dunkery Beacon||5 miles (7.5 km)||This walk climbs Dunkery Hill to Dunkery Beacon - the highest point in Exmoor and Somerset. From the 1,705 feet (520 m) summit there are fabulous views over Exmoor, the Brecon Beacons, Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor, the Severn Bridges and the Bristol and English Channels.|
The walk starts at the Dunkery Hill car park taking you up the hill to the beacon before heading into the delightful Dunkery and Horner Wood National Nature Reserve. The reserve covers 4000 acres/1604 hectares and is owned and managed by the National Trust. It consists of upland heath and woodland with a variety of wildlife including pied flycatcher, wood warbler, lesser spotted woodpecker, redstart and dipper. It also supports 14 of the 16 UK bat species, including barbastelle and Bechstein bats. You should also see several Exmoor Ponies and Exmoor's Iconic Red Deer.
If you would like to continue your walk you could head to the nearby Selworthy Beacon in the Holnicote Estate. Here you can enjoy more fabulous views of the Exmoor coast.
|Earlswood Lakes||3 miles (5 km)||Enjoy a stroll along these three reservoirs and into the adjacent woodland on this lovely walk in Solihull. There's a good footpath running along the lakes which includes a visit to Terry's Pool. This wildlife reserve, has a rich variety of plant and animal life including otters and turtles. Along the shore you'll see lots of pretty willow trees and plants such as great willowherb, betony, gipsywort and yellow flag iris. The walk also takes you into the delightful |
Clowes Wood Nature Reserve. Here you will find heathland, woodland, wildflowers and wet meadow. Look out for a variety of birdlife including jay, chiff chaff, nuthatch and treecreeper, woodcock and three types of woodpeckers.
If you'd like to continue your walking in the area then you could pick up the Solihull Way which starts at the lakes. The Stratford Upon Avon Canal is also nearby so this is another place where you can enjoy more waterside walks.
|Elmley National Nature Reserve||5 miles (8 km)||Enjoy a tranquil walk around this beautiful Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey.|
|Epsom Common||2 miles (4 km)||Follow this cycle and walking track around this large open space in Surrey. There are peaceful woodland trails, several ponds, fields with grazing cows and a wide variety of wildlife (the site is also a local nature reserve). |
If you would like to continue your exercise why not visit the nearby Horton Country Park or follow the Thames Down Link which passes through the common. The adjacent Ashtead Common National Nature Reserve also has miles of cycling and walking paths to enjoy.
Just to the south east you will find Epsom Downs. You can follow a footpath across the famous racecourse and enjoy attractive chalk downland, grassland and woodland.
|Eridge Rocks||1 miles (1 km)||This fascinating nature reserve in Tunbridge Wells contains a series of large boulders and mixed woodland. The imposing rocks are surrounded by interesting vegetation such as conifers, deciduous trees, bamboo, mosses, liverworts, ferns and bluebells. You can park at the car park at the southern edge of the reserve and then pick up the walking trails from there. Eridge Rail Station is also located nearby. You could catch the train and then follow National Cycle Network Route 21 for about a mile to reach the site.|
The Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk passes the site so you can pick this up to extend your walk. The long distance trail takes you through the attractive countryside surrounding the town and includes a visit to Harrison's Rocks. Just to the north is the RSPB Broadwater Warren. It's a great place to continue your walk with its nature trails, wet woodland, boardwalk, ponds and wide variety of wildlife.
|Fen Drayton Lakes||3 miles (5.5 km)||This large RSPB nature reserve near St Ives has some nice walking trails and a cycle path running through it. The reserve consists of a series of lakes, ponds and lagoons with the River Great Ouse running through the northern section. There's lots of well laid out trails taking you around and between the lakes with National Cycle Route 51 running through the central section along the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.|
The reserve is a haven for water loving wildlife with huge numbers of ducks, swans and geese on the lakes in winter. Also look out for terns, hobbies, lapwings, coots and a variety of dragonflies.
You can extend your walk by picking up the Ouse Valley Way which runs through the reserve. If you head west it will take you into St Ives while heading north takes you along the river to Earith. Cyclists can continue along the Cambridge to St Ives busway cycle path. It's a great traffic free route running along a disused railway line.
|Flanders Moss Nature Reserve||1 miles (1 km)||This delightful National Nature Reserve near Kippen has a 0.5 mile boardwalk trail to follow over the peat bogland. It's a fascinating and beautiful spot with sphagnum moss, heather, birches and cotton grass. Look out for a wide variety of wildlife including adders, lizards, snipe and stonechat. There is also a great viewing tower which you can climb for views over the reserve to the Trossachs. This short walk starts from the parking area just off the B822 north of Kippen and follows the boardwalk trail, visiting the viewing tower on the way.|
|Fontmell and Melbury Downs||5 miles (7.5 km)||Enjoy a variety of beautiful flora and fauna in this nature reserve in Compton Abbas on the Dorset/Wiltshire border. The area is associated with the novels of Thomas Hardy and includes a climb to Melbury Hill for wonderful views over the area. Also look out for a variety of birds, butterflies, wildflowers and orchids in this delightful area.|
The walk starts from the car park at the top of Spread Eagle Hill and follows footpaths to Compton Abbas. From here you climb past Compton Down before reaching the 863 feet summit of Melbury Hill. From here there are splendid views over Blackmore Vale, Vale of Wardour and Shaftesbury. The walk then descends back to Compton Abbas before crossing Fontmell Down and returning to the car park.
At the end of your walk you can enjoy refreshments at the Compton Abbas Airfield Restaurant which is located just to the east of the car park.
If you would like to continue your walking in the area then you could head east to Win Green Hill. It is the highest point in the Cranborne Chase AONB and commands wonderful views over Shaftesbury, Salisbury Plain, Glastonbury Tor, the Mendips, the Quantocks, the Purbecks and the south coast. Also nearby is Melbury Down, Melbury Wood and Fontmell Wood.
|Foots Cray Meadows||2 miles (2.5 km)||Enjoy a waterside walk along the River Cray in this lovely park and nature reserve in Bexley. There's a small car park off Rectory Lane on the south western side of the park. From here it is a short stroll to the river where you can pick up the London Loop long distance footpath. There's also footpaths through pretty wildflower meadows, ancient woodland and the impressive five arches bridge over the river. Look out for birdlife including little grebe, grey wagtails and kingfishers by the river.|
It's easy to extend your walk in the area if you have time. You can follow the London Loop south west to Petts Wood Circular and Scadbury Park where there are more nice footpaths through parkland, woodland and meadows.
Also nearby is the Joydens Wood Walk which starts from Bexley train station. The woods have over 136 hectares (325 acres) to explore on miles of footpaths and bridleways suitable for cyclists.
|Foremark Reservoir||2 miles (3 km)||This walk visits the pretty Foremark Reservoir near Burton Upon Trent in Derbyshire. The walk starts at the car park at the north eastern end of the reservoir and follows woodland trails along the reservoir to Carver's Rocks. The area is a nature reserve so look out for a variety of wildlife including several species of butterflies and wildfowl. The woodland area is lovely with bluebells and silver birches near the reservoir banks. It's a great place for a picnic and you can also purchase refreshments at the cafe. The reservoir is located near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Ingleby, Swadlincote and Willington.|
To extend your walking in the area you can visit the lovely Staunton Harold Reservoir or Calke Park.
|Forge Valley Woods||2 miles (3 km)||Follow the waterside trail through this delightful nature reserve in the North York Moors National Park. The route follows a wooden boardwalk through the wooded valley along the River Derwent. There's a wide variety of flora and fauna to look out for in the reserve. This includes wild garlic, wood anemone and broadleaved woodland. Also keep your eyes peeled for deer and woodland birds. It's easy to extend your walking in the area with Raincliffe Woods located just to the north west. The woods have some good mountain bike trails and more walking trails. Also nearby is Wykeham Forest which has some great viewpoints from its elevated position. |
Forge Valley is located just north of the villages of West Ayton and East Ayton. In West Ayton you can visit the 14th ruins of Ayton castle.
|Frampton Marsh||6 miles (9 km)||Visit this splendid RSPB nature reserve on the Wash on this circular walk near Boston. There are miles of good footpaths taking you to reedbed, saltmarsh, tidal mudflats, freshwater scrapes and grassland. There are good facilites with a visitor centre and a number of bird hides where you can look out for a wide variety of coastal birds. These include Avocet, Hen Harrier and Lapwing. |
The Macmillan Way long distance footpath runs through the reserve so it's easy to extend your walking in the area. If you head west you can enjoy a waterside walk along the River Welland to Fosdyke Bridge. You could also follow the Macmillan Way from Boston to reach the site. The waterside footpath runs along The Haven river from the town centre to The Wash.
If you'd like to visit the reserve by bike then you can follow National Cycle Network route 1 from Boston. It runs on country lanes to Sandholme near the reserve.
|Gibraltar Point||4 miles (6 km)||Enjoy a walk around this beautiful coastal nature reserve near Skegness. It's a lovely place for a peaceful stroll with numerous footpaths to follow through the sand, saltmarsh and dunes with several artificial lakes and bird hides along the way. There are lovely views of the Wash and the Lincolnshire coast and countryside. It's fantastic for bird watching with a variety of coastal birds to look out for. These include brent geese, shorelark, redwing and fieldfare. There's also an excellent visitor centre with a Wild Coast Exhibition that includes 3d models of sand dunes and salt marshes.|
The reserve is located just a few miles south of Skegness so you could easily walk there from the town. Parking is available at the reserve too though.
|Great Fen||2 miles (3 km)||This short circular walk follows the Dragonfly Trail in the Great Fen wetland area in Cambridgeshire. The walk starts from the Great Fen Information Point on the Long Drove Road between the villages of Holme and Ramsey St Mary. There is a car park here with maps and an information about the Great Fen project. You can pick up the 2 mile waymarked trail which takes you to Robinson's Ponds where dragonflies will be common in summer. It continues to an area of mature woodland with large Alder trees and then past a disused railway line before returning to the car park. Along the way there are picnic areas, information points and a bird hide where you can look out for a wide variety of birdlife.|
The Great Fen also consists of the splendid Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen nature reserves. You can extend your walk by venturing in to these areas. In Woodwalton Fen you will find 500 acres of wildflower meadows, mixed fen, marsh, reedbed, scrub, open water and woodland. It is located just to the south of the start point for this walk. Holme Fen includes the largest Silver Birch woodland in lowland England and has more nice walking trails to try. It is located just to the north west of the Dragonfly Trail.
If you are visiting the Great Fen by bike then National Cycle Network Route 12 runs through the village of Stilton on the western fringe of the area, near Holme.
|Guisborough Forest and Walkway||6 miles (10 km)||This super country park has cycle trails, walking routes, bridleways, a trim trail and an easier sculpture trail. The park includes the Guisborough Walkway which runs along the former trackbed of the Middlesbrough to Whitby railway line. This includes a wetland area with boardwalks, woodlands and grasslands. You can also climb Highcliff Nab for fabulous views of Teeside and the coast. |
The park is also very popular with mountain bikers with a number of super trails to explore. There is an excellent visitor centre with full details of all the trails in the park.
The Cleveland Street Walk and the Cleveland Way walking routes run through or near the park so there is scope for continuing your walk along these trails.
|Ham Wall||2 miles (3 km)||Ham Wall Nature Reserve is part of the Avalon Marshes in the beautiful Somerset Levels. There are several easy walking trails in the reserve. The Ham Wall walk runs along the Glastonbury Canal on a nice grassy path from the car park on Ashcott Road. From here you pick up the trail and head east along the water. Look out for lots of wildlife including otters, dragonflies, butterflies, marsh harriers, water voles, bitterns and roe deer. Ham Wall consists of a variety of habitats including reedbeds, wetland, grassland and woodland. There's four short walking trails in all. They are nicely laid out and include a number of bird hides and seating areas dotted along the way. |
Just to the west of the reserve you will find Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve which has more great trails to try.
The reserve is located just a few miles west of Glastonbury. You could visit by bike by following National Cycle Network Roue 3 from Glastonbury.
|Hamford Water||2 miles (2.5 km)||Follow the Naze wildlife trail on this walk in the Hamford Water National Nature Reserve. The area is an internationally important site for migrating birds and includes the famous fifty million year old cliffs made up of London clay. |
You can park at the Naze Centre on Hall Lane to pick up the nature trail. The centre is known as the gateway to Hamford Water, the most easterly peninsula in Essex. The trails lead north from the car park to the lake and John Weston nature reserve. It's a splendid place for wildlife watching with thousands of wildfowl to look out for. These include Dark Bellied Brent Geese, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat. Also keep your eyes peeled for Common and Grey Seals in the less disturbed areas of Hamford Water.
The site also includes the 18th century Naze Tower. The navigational tower, was constructed to assist ships on this stretch of coast. You can climb the 111-step spiral staircase to the top of the tower for splendid views of the surrounding coast countryside.
Local cycle route 150 runs along the coast to the reserve from Walton-on-the-Naze train station.
|Hartlebury Common||2 miles (3 km)||Hartlebury Common and Hillditch Coppice cover 229 acres of lowland heath in Stourport-on-Severn. The area is criss crossed with a number of lovely waymarked walking paths where you can see many varieties of wild plants and insects, especially butterflies and moths. There are a number of habitats to enjoy including woodlands, heather covered hills, an acid bog, a pool and brook. |
Hartlebury Castleis located right next to the common so you could easily visit this interesting Grade I listed building on your walk. It was originally built in the mid-13th century as a fortified manor house. It now houses the Worcestershire County Museum where you can find out about the history of the area. Inside there are period room displays including a schoolroom, a nursery and a scullery, while outside in the grounds there is a cider mill and transport display with a fire engine, hansom cab, bicycles, carts and Gypsy caravans.
If you'd like to continue your walk then you could easily pick up the Severn Way and enjoy some lovely riverside walking.
|Healey Dell||2 miles (3 km)||This lovely little nature reserve in Whitworth has lots of nice footpaths to follow through a densley wooded valley. You can enjoy the rushing water of the River Spodden with pretty waterfalls and lots of wildlife to look out for. There's also water mills, picnic areas and the impressive 1867 Healey Dell Viaduct. The reserve has good facilities with a visitor centre providing lots of helpful information and a nice cafe. |
The reserve is in a great location for extending your walking in the area as there are number of waymarked footpaths to pick up. If you head west you can climb to Hunger Hill and Forsyth Brow before coming to Greenbooth Reservoir. The Rochdale Way and Pennine Bridleway pass the reserve so you can follow these paths across the surrounding Pennine Moors.
|Hengistbury Head||4 miles (7 km)||Follow the miles of walking trails in this stunning nature reserve on the Dorset coast. After a short climb to the summit of Hengistbury Head you will be rewarded with fabulous views of the Isle of Wight, Mudeford Spit, Christchurch Harbour and Priory, the Purbeck Hills and Bournemouth Pier and beach. You can also walk along the lovely Mudeford Spit with its gorgeous beaches lined with pretty beach huts.|
The trails are on well defined gravel paths taking you through lovely heathland and sand dunes with views of freshwater ponds, reed beds and salt marshes. Over 300 bird species have been recorded in the area including Purple Heron, the Pink-footed Goose, the European Honey Buzzard, the Melodious Warbler and numerous Skylarks. There is also a wildlife pond where the country's rarest amphibian, the Natterjack Toad can be spotted.
The Bournemouth Coast Path and the Stour Valley Way both run past Hengistbury Head so you could pick up either of these long distance trails to continue your walk.
On the opposite side of Christchurch Harbour you can visit the lovely Stanpit Marsh Nature Reserve. The reserve is home to horses, foals, rabbits and a variety of wading birds. It also contains lagoons, reedbeeds and marshland with splendid views back towards Hengistbury Head and Christchurch Priory. You can reach the reserve by catching the ferry from Mudeford and then heading west for about a mile to Stanpit.
|Highnam Woods||1 miles (2 km)||Follow the 2km nature trail through this pretty RSPB reserve near Gloucester. There are nice woodland paths where you can look out for a variety of bird species including the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Nightingale, Song Thrush, and Spotted Flycatchers. Also look out for woodland butterflies such as white admirals and white-letter hairstreaks. |
The Wysis Way and the Gloucestershire Way both pass close to the reserve so there is scope for extending your walk along one of these long distance paths.
If you head a mile to the east you will come to the lovely Highnam Court with its beautiful gardens, lake and 17th century grade I listed country house.
|Hodbarrow Lakes Nature Reserve||3 miles (4.6 km)||Enjoy a walk around Hodbarrow Lakes RSPB on the edge of the Lake District National Park. You can stroll along the sea wall and enjoy fine views of the reserve's lakes on one side and the Duddon Estuary on the other. Look out for Teal, Widgeon, Coot, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser as you make your way around the reserve. You can also sometimes see seals in the estuary.|
The reserve is located just a short walk from the centre of Millom. The Cumbria Coastal Way runs past the reserve so you could pick this up and head along the coast towards Ravenglass if you would like to continue your walk.
A climb to Black Combe is also a good option.
|Holkham National Nature Reserve||16 miles (26 km)||Explore 9,600 acres of grazing marsh, woodland, salt marsh, sand dunes and foreshore in England's largest Nature Reserve.
The walk begins at Burnham Overy Staithe, following Overy Creek to the beach at Holkham Bay. You continue east to Wells-Next-The-Sea, passing the pretty harbour on the way before reaching Stiffkey Salt Marsh where you will find a vast open expanse of salt marshes with large numbers of birdlife including waders and wintering wildfowl. You continue to Morston where you can catch a boat to Blakeney Point Nature Reserve with its colonies of seals. The final stretch takes you through Blakeney to Cley-Next-The-Sea and the Cley Marshes Nature Reserve. This 430 acre reserve contains reed beds, freshwater marsh, pools and wet meadows.|
Holkham Nature Reserve really is a special place with its wonderful mixture of habitats. You will pass through a maze of creeks and saltings, dunes and sandspits, woodland, green pastures and grazing marshes. There is also a huge variety of wildlife to see with pink-footed geese, white-fronted geese, brent geese, wigeon and waders regular visitors to the reserve.
|Holme Fen||6 miles (9 km)||Explore the largest Silver Birch woodland in lowland England on this walk in Cambridgeshire. There are 657 acres of acid grassland, heath, raised bog, mere and woodland with several bird hides from which to view a wide variety of wildlife. At Holme Post you will be 2.75 metres (9.0 ft) below sea level - the lowest land point in Great Britain. |
If you would like to continue your walk you could head to the nearby Woodwalton Fen National Nature Reserve. Holme Fen is located between Peterborough and Huntingdon.
The reserve is part of the larger Great Fen Wetland Project. You can visit the Great Fen information point and try the lovely Dragonfly Trail. The 2 mile circular footpath is waymarked and includes ponds, woodland and lots of information points explaining the Great Fen project.
|Holt Heath National Nature Reserve||4 miles (6.5 km)||Enjoy a walk through beautiful Dorset heathland in this delightful National Nature Reserve near Wimborne Minster. There are miles of good walking tracks taking you through over 1000 acres of woodland and heathland. In the summer the purple heather and gorse are really beautiful. The area is also fantastic for wildlife - look out for New Forest Ponies, Dartford warbler, Curlews, various reptiles and a variety of butterflies.|
This circular walk starts at the Whitesheet car park and follows footpaths across the heath to Cock's Moor Pond and Newman's Lane. You then pick up the Ferndown, Stour and Forest Trail to take you back to the car park through peaceful woodland.
If you'd like to continue your walking in the area then you could pick up the Castleman Trailway and head into the nearby Ferndown Forest for more peaceful woodland trails.
|Hornchurch Country Park||2 miles (4 km)||Enjoy a walk or cycle through this large country park in Havering in the Ingrebourne Valley. Features in the park include the River Ingrebourne, grassland, a fishing lake and woodland paths. The park is also a Local Nature Resrve with marshes containing the largest freshwater reed bed in London. As such it is a great area for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. |
The park is also the site of the former RAF Hornchurch base which was used in the First and Second World Wars. As such there are some historical features including an aircraft dispersal bay, pillboxes, and Tett turrets.
The Ingrebourne Valley walking and cycle route runs through the park so you could pick this up and head towards Rainham or Upminster to continue your outing.
|Hornsea Mere||2 miles (3 km)||Enjoy a walk along this lovely freshwater lake in the seaside town of Hornsea. At 2 miles long and 0.75 miles wide it is the largest freshwater lake in Yorkshire. You can pick up a public footpath from Hull Road at the south eastern side of the water. It will take you through fields on the southern side of the lake with nice views across the water to the surrounding woodland and countryside. The path continues around the western side of the lake past Springfield Wood and Low Wood. At the eastern end of the lake there's a nice cafe overlooking the area.|
It's a great place for birdwatching with gadwalls, goldeneyes and tufted ducks to look out for on the water. Also keep your eyes peeled for reed warblers in the reedbeds.
You can extend your walking in the area by picking up the Trans Pennine Trail and the Hornsea Rail Trail. It's an excellent cycling and walking route along a dismantled railway that will take you all the way to Hull.
|Inversnaid Nature Trail||1 miles (2 km)||Follow the lovely nature trail in this RSPB reserve by Loch Lomond on this short walk. The route starts at the Inversnaid Hotel and follows the West Highland Way along the loch before climbing to oak woodland and open moorland where there are fabulous views. Look out for pied flycatchers, buzzards and woodpeckers on the way.|
If you would like to extend your walk you could continue along the West Highland Way in either direction. You could also the beautiful Inversnaid Falls which are a short stroll from the start of this route.
|Keyhaven Marshes||6 miles (10 km)||This coastal cycle or walk takes you from Lymington to Keyhaven through the beautiful Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes. The path runs along a sea wall with the marshes on one side and the sea on the other. As such you are surrounded by varied and beautiful scenery for the length of the route. In the marsh area you will pass a number of pretty lagoons where you can look out for a wide variety of birdlife including Egret, Shelduck, Curlew and Heron. On the coastal side there are fabulous views of the Isle of Wight which is less than 2 miles away. Hurst Castle is also visible for most of the way - you could extend your walk by walking along the shingle spit to Henry VIII's Device Fort if you have time. |
The Solent Way and the Bournemouth Coast Path long distance walking routes also run through Keyhaven so you could also continue your exercise along these paths.
|Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve||4 miles (7 km)||Enjoy a walk around this interesting and beautiful Nature Reserve in the South Downs, near Chichester. There are well defined paths with fabulous views over the South Downs towards the south coast. The reserve also contains one of the finest yew forests in Europe, including a grove of ancient trees which are among the oldest living things in Britain.|
If you have time you could continue your walk along the Monarch's Way to Stoughton where you can buy refreshments at the local pub.
|Lake Vyrnwy||11 miles (18 km)||Follow the lakeside cycle lanes around this lovely reservoir on this circular ride in Powys. The country lanes around the water are flat and well maintained so this is a farily easy waterside ride. It's a lovely area with the lake surrounded by hills and attractive woodland. You can hire bikes at Llandwddyn at the southern end of the water.|
This route starts from the visitor centre near the village of Llanwddyn and the impressive Vyrnwy Dam. You then follow the B4393 around the water for about 12 miles.
The whole of this route is probably more suitable for cyclists but walkers can enjoy the reserve too. There's nice paths at the southern end of the water near the visitor centre. There's also woodland trails on both the western and eastern side of the lake. At the northern end of the lake you will find the beautiful Rhiwargor Waterfall. There's a nice track running along the Afon Eiddew to the spectacular waterfall.
The area is also a RSPB nature reserve so you can look out for a variety of birds including great crested grebes, dippers and buzzards. There are bird hides around the lake.
You can follow the trail using the google street view link below.
|Lakenheath Fen||2 miles (3.5 km)||Follow the well laid out footpaths around this lovely nature reserve on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. The reserve consists of a large area of wetland with reedbeds, grazing marshes and riverside paths along the River Little Ouse. Lakenheath is a wonderful place for wildlife watching with reed warblers, bitterns and western marsh harriers real highlights.
There's a car park at the site but you can also catch the train to Lakenheath station which is right next to the reserve.
The Hereward Way long distance footpath runs through the reserve so you can pick this up to extend your walk. The path heads west through New Fen, Joist Fen, Norfolk Fen before turning south to Stallode Wash.
If you head east you will come to Brandon Country Park and Thetford Forest where there are miles of fabulous woodland walking trails to try.
|Leasowes Park||1 miles (1.5 km)||Enjoy an easy stroll around this park and nature reserve in Halesowen near Birmingham. The park covers 141 acres and has well laid out, surfaced footpaths to follow. The park has many very pretty features with woodland, grassland, streams, waterfalls and large ponds which attract a variety of wildlife. Look out for dragonflies, toads, kingfisher and newts in the wetland areas and woodpeckers, tawny owls and badgers in the woodland. |
The park has an interesting history having been designed by the poet William Shenstone between 1743 and 1763. The Leasowes is considered to be one of the first natural landscape gardens in England. As such it is one of the most significant parks in the country.
The Monarch's Way long distance footpath runs past the park so you can pick this up to extend your walk. If you follow it north you'll pass along the Dudley Canal to Mucklow Hill and Blackheath. Head south and you will soon come to the atmospheric remains of Halesowen Abbey. The abbey is owned by English Heritage and was originally founded in 1215 under a grant from King John of England.
Also nearby is the lovely Woodgate Valley Country Park. The park is located just a couple of miles to the east. It contains 450 acres of rich meadows, woodland and small ponds with the Bourn brook running through the heart of the park.
|Leigh Woods||2 miles (3 km)||Enjoy cycling and walking trails in this forest and nature reserve in Bristol. The reserve is located in the beautiful Avon Gorge and is a popular retreat from the city. You can enjoy oak, small leaf lime and ash forest with carpets of bluebells in the springtime. Along the way you can enjoy sculpture trails, views of the River Avon and the Clifton Suspension Bridge and a variety of wildlife. Look out for bullfinch, marsh tit, song thrush and Peregrine falcon as you make your way through the woods. The area is managed by the National Trust so the trails are well maintained. |
Walkers can enjoy various waymarked walking trails including the popular one-mile woodland wander which will suit all abilities. The whole of the circular route below is designed for walkers. If you are on a bike please stick to the marked cycle trails which start from the same point as this route.
For cyclists there is a blue grade trail which makes for a nice traffic free ride for beginners or families. The video below shows this trail known as the Yer Tiz trail. There is also a red grade trail for more experienced mountain bikers to try. A National Cycle Network trail also runs through the forest.
Parking is available at the woods but you could follow the River Avon Trail from the centre of Bristol to extend your exercise. It's about a 2-3 mile walk/cycle along the river from the city centre and train station.
|Leighton Moss Nature Reserve||2 miles (4 km)||This large nature reserve in Silverdale, Cumbria is the perfect place for a peaceful walk in beautiful surroundings. Leighton Moss is the largest reedbed in the north west and has a number of well laid out trails for you to explore the area. An abundance of wildlife can be seen in the reserve including breeding bitterns, starlings, bearded tits, marsh harriers (see video) and red deer. There is also a fantastic cafe in a converted barn.|
Leighton Moss is on the Lancashire Coastal Way walking route so there is scope for continuing your walk towards Arnside or Carnforth. You could also pay a visit to the nearby Arnside Knott. This small hill has woodland walks and fabulous views over Silverdale and the coastal estuary. Also nearby is Warton Crag nature reserve with its rare butterflies and plants.
The reserve is located right next to Silverdale railway station so is easy to access.
|Linford Lakes||4 miles (6 km)||Enjoy a waterside cycle or walk around the pretty Linford Lakes Nature Reserve in Milton Keynes. At the site you will find a large lake, woodland, small meadows and a series of ponds and smaller lakes. You can stop on the way and enter one of the bird hides where you can look out for Waterfowl, Waders, Heron and Egret. In the woodland section you make catch a glimpse of the Reeves Muntjac Deer. There's also sections along the Grand Union Canal and the River Great Ouse. To get full access to the reserve you need a permit from http://www.theparkstrust.com/parks/linford-lakes-permit.|
If you would like to continue your exercise you could enjoy more waterside walking along the Grand Union Canal or head to the nearby Willen Lake.
|Loch Garten||2 miles (4 km)||This walk takes you around the beautiful Loch Garten RSPB Nature Reserve and also visits the nearby Loch Mallachie in the Cairngorms. |
You start at the Loch Garten Osprey Centre at the north eastern side of the loch. Here you can observe the birds nesting in the Caledonian pineforest, visit the excellent visitor centre and view the birds on the live CCTV camera. There are a number of splendid nature trails to follow through the forest and along the pretty loch. Look out for wildlife which includes red squirrels, dragonflies, crested tits and, in early spring, the capercaillie. The walk continues on woodland trails to the smaller, but still delightful, Loch Mallachie. It's a glorious area with the Cairngorms mountains making a splendid backdrop.
The Speyside Way passes nearby so you can pick this up if you would like to extend your walk.
|Lodmoor Country Park||2 miles (3.5 km)||Enjoy a peaceful walk around this country park and nature reserve in Weymouth. The park has a host of facilities with a cafe, outdoor gym, model railway and pitch and putt golf course. The adjacent nature reserve has an easy access walking path taking you through various habitats including reedbed, open water, saltmarsh and wet grassland. The reserve attracts a wide variety of birdlife with Cetti's warbler and Little Egrets common visitors. A cycle path runs through part of the park and the south side of the nature reserve.|
|Ludshott Common||4 miles (7 km)||Explore this large area of heathland and woodland on this circular walk in East Hampshire. |
You can start your walk from the Waggoners Wells car park at the end of Waggoners Wells Lane. This gives you direct access to the three pretty man made ponds and Cooper's Stream which runs through the adjacent Bramshott Common. From the ponds there are good footpaths and bridleways leading north west towards Headley Down. There's 285 hectares (700 acres) to explore with lots of wildlife to look out for. This includes roe deer, sand lizards, woodlark, nightjar and Dartford warbler. There's also lots of interesting vegetation including pretty heather, gorse scrub and some impressive 'cathedral' Scots pine trees.
The common is loated close to the town of Liphook where you can pick up a number of long distance trails to take you into the South Downs. The Sussex Border Path, Serpent Trail and the new New Lipchis Way all run through the area just to the south of the common so it's easy to extend your walking in the area. You can also explore another National Trust managed site at Marley Common near Haslemere.
Just to the west you will find Woolmer Forest. The forest has some good public footpaths and is considered the best area of lowland heath outside the New Forest.
|Lyme Regis to Seaton Undercliff Walk||7 miles (11.5 km)||Travel from Dorset into Devon on this popular walk through the Undercliff National Nature Reserve. The reserve is one of the highlights on the Jurassic Coast with a wide variety of flora and fauna to look out for.|
It's a 7 mile walk with some challenging climbs and wonderful clifftop coastal scenery. The stretch of coast is of high geological significance containing rocks from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of geological time. It's also botanically diverse with species rich chalk grassland, holm oak, rhododendron, orchids and laurel.
Starting on the sea front in Lyme Regis you pick up the South West Coast Path and head west past the famous Cobb. The path then climbs to the Ware Cliffs via Chimney Rock. Ware Cliffs have nice lush green vegetation with a high point of 137 metres (449 ft) at Black Ven. The cliffs are thought to be around 199-189 million years old.
You continue west to the lovely Pinhay Bay where there are more tall cliffs and some rugged terrain. The next stage takes you past Whitlands Cliff to Charton Bay, before coming to the splendid Axe Estuary Nature Reserve at Axmouth. It's a great place for birdwatching with many different types of wildfowl and wading birds to look out for.
After crossing the Axe Estuary the walk finishes on the front at Seaton.
You can extend your walking in Seaton by heading north along the Seaton Tramway Walk through the Seaton Marshes to Colyford. The marshes are just north of the town and include ditches and ponds that attract a large variety of wildfowl, waders and butterflies.
If you continue west along the South West Coast Path you will soon come to the villages of Beer and Branscombe.
|Malvern and Brueton Park||2 miles (3 km)||This lovely park in Solihull has nice footpaths and a cycle trail to follow. The 130 acre site includes a large lake, woodland, ornamental gardens and a local nature reserve which includes the delightful Brueton Tree Trail. Follow the trail and look out for several different tree species including English Oak, Giant Redwood, Maidenhair and Indian Bean Tree. There's also an excellent visitor centre with a wealth of information about the area.|
There is a car park off Warwick Road where you can start your exercise. Solihull train station is less than a mile away so you could come by public transport too.The park also hosts a popular parkrun every Saturday morning at 9:00 am.
To contiinue your walk you could pick up the Solihull Way which passes the park's western side. If you head north you will soon come to the Grand Union Canal where you can enjoy a waterside stroll along the towpath. Head south along the trail and you will come to the Stratford Upon Avon Canal.
Also nearby is Tudor Grange Park which includes a lake, the Alder Brook stream, a cycle track and a pitch and putt course.
|Martin Down Nature Reserve||2 miles (4 km)||This beautiful nature reserve on the Hampshire/Dorset border consists of 350 hectares of unspoiled chalk downland. It's a splendid area with miles of good footpaths taking you past wildflower meadows and sweeping grassland.|
This circular walk starts from the car park off the A354 near Bokerley Junction. You then follow good footpaths around the reserve, passing along the Bokerley Dyke which defines the border between the counties of Hampshire and Dorset.
The area is great for flora and fauna. Look out for birds such as Cuckoos, yellowhammers, and skylarks. In the summer months there are various butterflies including Adonis blue and the dark green fritillary. The area is covered with an abundance of pretty plants and flowers including several species of orchid.
If you would like to extend your walk then you could pick up the Jubilee Trail which starts from the reserve. You could follow the trail to the nearby Pentridge Hill for great views over the Hampshire and Dorset countryside. You could also head north to Vernditch Chase where there are some nice woodland walking trails to try.
Martin Down is located near to both Fordingbridge and Salisbury.
|Martin Mere||1 miles (2 km)||This wonderful nature reserve near Southport has lots of nice footpaths to follow around the wetland habitat. There's a huge variety of wildlife to look out for in the reserve. Highlights include the flamingo shelter, otter enclosure and beaver enclosure. There's also a canoe safari where you can paddle throught the reedbeds and look out for water voles to reed buntings.|
The Wild Walk takes you along a maze of wetland tracks with wooldand, a web bridge, sculptures and lots of wildlife too look out for.
As well as the large mere there are a series of smaller lakes with many water loving birds to see. These include Goldeneye, Avocets, Pintail Ducks and Crested crane. There's also lots of interesting flora to see with marsh orchids, purple ramping fumitory and golden dock.
The reserve has a large car park but you can also visit using public transport. New Lane and Burscough Bridge train stations are close by. Rufford station is a little further away but if you come from there you can visit Rufford Old Hall and Mere Sands Wood nature reserve before coming to Martin Mere. The 16th century old hall has some nice gardens and grounds to explore.
If you are coming by bike then regional cycle route 91 of the Lancashire cycleway runs past the reserve on Marsh Moss Lane and Fish Lane. You can follow the cycleway from Chorley or Leyland via Bretherton.
To further extend your walking in the area you could pick up the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath or enjoy a stroll along the River Douglas.
Just to the north is the lovely Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve where you will find 100 acres of lakes, broadleaved and conifer woodland, wet meadows and heaths.
|Marton Mere||1 miles (2 km)||Enjoy a short walk around this pretty nature reserve near Blackpool. The reserve includes a large lake with a number of good footpaths running through the surrounding area. There's several bird hides where you can look out for the water loving birds which visit the mere. These include Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Shoveler, Pochard and Teal. Other features include reed beds, grassland, small areas of woodland and a variety of wildflowers. Look out for bee orchids, yellow rattle, marsh woundwort and birdsfoot trefoil in the summer months. These attract a large number of butterflies such as common blue, red admiral and meadow brown.|
It's easy to extend your walk on the paths which run to the north and west of the mere. These will take you around a golf course to the pretty Stanley Park where you will find a large boating lake and lovely gardens.
Marton Mere is located just to the east of Blackpool town centre, near Staining. There are views of Blackpool Tower from the reserve. National Cycle Network route 62 runs close to the site so you can easily cycle there too.
|Mere Sands Wood||2 miles (2.5 km)||Follow the footpaths around this delightful nature reserve on this circular walk in Rufford, Lancashire. The reserve covers 100 acres and consists of several small lakes, reedbeds, broadleaved and conifer woodland, wet meadows and heaths. It's fantastic for wildlife spotting with Roe Deer, red squirrels and foxes to look out for in the woodland areas. Many water loving birds also visit the reserve such as Reed Buntings, Water Rail, Great Crested and Little Grebes.|
There is a reserve car park off Holmeswood Road where you can start the walk. You can also visit Mere Sands Wood by public transport though. Rufford train station is very close by and if you alight there you could also visit Rufford Old Hall. The 16th century hall has some nice gardens and grounds to explore.
If you are coming by bike then regional cycle route 91 of the Lancashire cycleway is a good option. You can follow the cycleway from Chorley or Leyland via Bretherton.
If you enjoy this walk then you could also visit the splendid Martin Mere. Here you can look out for otters, flamingos, beavers and thousands of water loving birds. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal also passes the reserve so this is another good option if you would like to extend your walking in the area.
Mere Sands Wood is located near to the towns of Southport and Ormskirk.
|Messingham Sand Quarry||1 miles (1.5 km)||This pretty nature reserve near Scunthorpe has nice footpaths running around and between a series of lagoons. In the reserve you will find woodland, grassland and marsh. Look out for a wide variety of flora and fauna including orchids, wildflowers, heather and 20 species of butterfly. Wildlife sightings include Teal, wigeon, mallard, pochard, great crested grebes, kingfishers, linnets, chaffinch, bullfinch, great tit, Goldcrest, wren, sparrowhawk, and terns. |
The site has a car park and a waymarked circular footpath to follow around the reserve.
If you would like to continue your walking in the area then you could head to the nearby Laughton Woods. It's located a few miles south west near Scotter.
Also nearby is the lovely Twigmoor Woods with its large ponds and lovely colourful rhododendrons.
|Middleton Lakes||2 miles (4 km)||This splendid RSPB nature reserve has several well laid out walking trails to try. It covers 400 acres with several lakes and pools, meadowland, a canal and the River Tame. There's lots of birdlife to look out for such as bittern, little egret, common pochard, tufted duck and smew. You may also see otters, butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies in whats is one of the best wildlife sites in the midlands.|
You start off at the car park at Middleton Hall. From here you can pick up the Woodland Trail which takes you past the heronry and the rookery to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. Here you link up with the reserve's other two trails. The Meadow Trail runs south along a high-level walkway running parallel to the canal. From the elevated position there are great views over the Southern Meadow towards the river. Look out for owls and Konik ponies along this trail.
The other trail is the Wetland Trail which runs through the northern section of the reserve. This takes you past several lakes and reedbeds with lapwings and reed warblers to look out for. Along the Langley Brook you can also see Cuckoos and warblers in the spring months.
To continue your walk you could head south along the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and visit Kingsbury Water Park. Here you'll find 600 acres of country park with 15 lakes and miles of good cycling and walking trails to try.
Middleton Lakes is located just south of Tamworth on the Staffordshire/Warwickshire border.
|Minsmere Nature Reserve||4 miles (6 km)||Enjoy a peaceful walk around this lovely coastal nature reserve near Leiston. Easy walking trails take you through woodland, reed bed, lowland heath, wet grassland and shingle vegetation. The reserve attracts a wide variety of birdlife and is considered one of the best sites in the country for birdwatching. Look out for Avocet, Bittern and Marsh Harriers. Other wildlife in the reserve includes Exmoor Ponies and Konik horses. You may even catch a glimpse of an otter if you are lucky!|
The Suffolk Coast Path runs past the site so you could pick this up and continue your walk along the coast. If you head north along the path you will soon come to Dunwich Forest and then Westwood Marshes and Walberswick Nature Reserve where there are more excellent birdwatching opportunities.
Just to the north you'll find the lovely National Trust owned Dunwich Heath. There's miles of footpaths through beautiful purple heathland and coastal views along the pretty Dunwich beach.
|Morecambe Bay||12 miles (19 km)||Enjoy a visit to the Morecambe Bay Nature Reserve and a stroll along the Lancaster Canal on this circular cycle or walk in Lancashire. |
The walk starts in the town centre of Morecambe near to the train station. You then pick up the Lancashire Coastal Way to take you along the promenade towards Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands. You'll pass the Eric Morecambe statue with great views over the bay towards the Lake District. There's also a great deal of coastal wildlife to look out for including Cormorants, Curlews, Lapwings and Oystercatchers. The area is a RSPB reserve with sandflats and saltmarshes that attract thousands of birds. As such it is considered the second most important estuary in the UK.
From Hest Bank you turn inland and follow the Lancaster Canal into Lancaster before another waterside sectoin along the River Lune. A shared footpath and cycleway then returns you to Morecambe though White Lund.
To continue your walking in the area you can head along the Lancashire Coastal Way to Carnforth.
You can also head south of Heysham and visit the delightful Sunderland Point. It's a lovely place for a walk with coastal views, salt marsh, beach, mud flats, farmland and lots of wildlife to look out for. There's also a series of attractive Georgian houses by the quay.
|Newport Wetlands||2 miles (4 km)||This circular walk takes you around the beautiful Gwent Levels near Newport. The reserve covers 1,080 acres of the Caldicot Levels attracting a wide variety of wildlife. These include Cetti's warblers, Bearded Tits, Little Egrets and Little Grebes.
There are well laid out footpaths taking you to ponds, reedbeds, grassland, lagoons and along the lovely Severn Estuary. On the Orchid walk you can look out for beautiful plants and flowers. The RSPB facilities are very good with a visitor centre, picnic areas, play areas and cafe.
The section along the estuary and past the Usk Power Station is part of the National Cycle Network so you can bring your bike too! It's a lovely traffic free ride, passing the East Usk Lighthouse with views of the River Usk.
The reserve is located just a few miles south of Newport town centre. You can park at the reserve if coming by car or you could follow National Cycle Network Route 4 and other local cycle routes to the reserve.
|Old Winchester Hill||9 miles (14 km)||This walk takes you up the 197 metres (646 ft) Old Winchester Hill in the South Downs. The hill and surrounding area is a National Nature Reserve with a wide variety of butterflies and wildlife to look out for. These include buzzards, kites, roe deer and foxes. The area is made largely of chalk grassland with extensive scrub and many orchid species. There is also an Iron Age hill fort and earlier Bronze Age barrows and burial mounds.|
This circular walk starts at the village of Meonstoke and makes use of the South Downs Way to take you to Old Winchester Hill before returning via Warnford and Beacon Hill. There are super panoramic views of the South Downs and the Meon Valley from the high points. On a clear day you may even be able to see the Isle of Wight.
If you'd like to continue your walk then you could pick up the South Downs Way or the Monarch's Way which run past the hill.
|Orford Ness||4 miles (6 km)||Follow the walking trails around this beautiful nature reserve on the Suffolk Coast. The reserve is located on a remote shingle spit by the River Ore. It can be accessed by catching the National Trust ferry from Orford Quay (this is show on the google street view link below). You can then pick up the walking trails which take you to the WWI airfield, King's Marsh, Orford Ness lighthouse and Orford beach. There's three colour coded, waymarked trails to try with reserve features including shingle, salt-marsh, mud-flats and brackish lagoons. These areas are a haven for wildlife. Highlights include Orford's brown hares and the wonderful Chinese water deer who swam the river to reach the reserve.
Also look out for a wide variety of birds such as avocet and common tern. Marsh harrier's have a nest in King's Marsh and Barn Owls can also been seen nesting in the disused military buildings on the site.|
To extend your walking in the area you could pick up the waterside footpath along the River Ore and River Alde and head north towards Aldeburgh Bay. The Suffolk Coast Path also runs near to the reserve. You can pick it up a couple of miles west of Orford where it runs along the Butley River to Boyton Marshes. Rendlesham Forest is also nearby and has miles of nice woodland walking trails.
|Otmoor||5 miles (7.5 km)||This lovely RSPB nature reserve consists of wet meadows, grassland and reedbeds. The area attracts thousands of wildfowl and waders such as lapwings and redshanks. You can also look out for a variety of dragonflies and butterflies. This circular walk follows good footpaths around the reserve with views of the River Ray and the surrounding Oxfordshire countryside. |
The Oxfordshire Way runs past the reserve so you could pick this up to continue your walk. If you prefer you can visit the reserve by following the Oxfordshire Way from nearby Beckley. The route passes through Noke Wood and some nice countryside before reaching the reserve near Noke. You could also follow the trail west to the pretty village of Islip where you can enjoy lovely views of the River Cherwell and River Ray.
|Oxford Island||1 miles (2 km)||Visit this beautiful nature reserve on the shores of Lough Neagh on this easy circular walk. There's 282 acres (113 hectares) to explore on a series of good footpaths and walking trails. Habitats in the reserve include reed beds, open water, species rich wet grassland, wildlife ponds and wildflower meadows. There's lots of wildlife to look out including a variety of butterflies and birds such as Lapwing, Curlew and Goldeneye. You can also have a stroll along the pretty Kinnego Marina and enjoy wonderful views over Lough Neagh.|
National Cycle Network route 9 runs right to the reserve so it's easy to visit by bike. The Loughshore Trail which runs right around the Lough also passes Oxford Island on the way.
To extend your walking in the area you could visit the nearby Peatlands Park. Here you'll find miles of trails taking you to peatlands, orchards, woodland, boardwalks and two nature reserves.
Just to the west is Marghery country park where there are another 3 miles of woodland walking trails with more great views over Lough Neagh.
|Oxhey Woods||2 miles (3 km)||These peaceful woods near Watford have nice footpaths and a popular sculpture trail to follow. You can park at the Oxhey Woods car park off Oxhey Drive which runs through the centre of the woods. There are lots of trails in the woods but the main attraction is the excellent sculpture trail. Along the 1km trail you will find numerous carved wooden sculptures of the wildlife you can see in the area. Watch the video below to see the pieces being carved.|
The woods are also a local nature reserve so look out for a variety of interesting flora and fauna. Plants includes bluebells, anemones and violets amongst the ancient woodland. There's also a rhododendron trail running through the southern section of the site near the sculpture trail. Wildlife includes the tiny pipistrelle bat and a variety of woodland birdlife.
The London Loop passes through the wood so there is scope for extending your walk in the area. If you head east the trail will take you to Harrow Weald Common, Bentley Priory Nature Reserve and Stanmore Common. The commons have nice woodland trails, heathland and wildlife including muntjac deer to look out for.
|Oxleas Wood||1 miles (2 km)||This lovely park in south east London has good footpaths through woodland, a terraced garden, a rose garden and parkland. The area is in an elevated position on Shooter's Hill so there are great views of the city of London and the surrounding countryside to enjoy. In the park you will find ancient woodland including oak, silver birch, hornbeam and coppice hazel. There's nice wide lawns where you can enjoy a picnic and the far ranging views. |
In Castle Wood you will find the 18th century Severndroog Castle. The impressive Gothic-style castle has a viewing platform from which you can see several of the surrounding counties on a clear day.
The park also has good facilities with a car park and a nice cafe.
The Green Chain Walk passes right through the park so you can pick this up to extend your walking in the area. Heading north will take you through Eltham Common and Woolwich Common before coming to the River Thames in Greenwich. Head east and you will soon come to Bostall Woods where there are more nice walking trails to try. Adjacent to Bostall Woods is the fine Lesnes Abbey Woods where you can explore the ruins of the 12th century abbey and visit the lovely ornamental garden and arboretum.
|Park Lime Pits||1 miles (2 km)||Enjoy a short walk around this country park and nature reserve in Walsall. In the park you will find tranquil pools, mature woodland, streams and over 300 species of plants. It's also a nature reserve so look out for a variety of birds including lapwings and yellowhammers. The park is located on the Beacon Way so there is the option of continuing your walk along the Rushall canal which runs past the park. Just to the south you will find the lovely Walsall Arboretum where there are nice surfaced paths to follow around the 80 acre park.|
|Paxton Pits||3 miles (5 km)||Visit this delightful nature reserve in Little Paxton and enjoy a series of well laid out, waterside walking trails. The paths run around a series of pretty ponds and lakes with a riverside stretch along the River Great Ouse to enjoy too. There's nearly 200 acres to explore with habitats including meadow, reedbed, scrub and woodland. It's great for wildlife with a heronry plus nightingales and cormorants to look out for.|
There's two, short waymarked trails to follow around the site. The Heron Trail runs for about 2 miles with a surfaced path for the first mile. The circular trail visits two bird hides where you can watch the Cormorants and Herons roosting on the islands. The 1.5 mile Meadow Trail visits the southern part of the reserve. You'll pass lakes and meadows with a variety of wildflowers such as Wild Roses and Hawthorn blossom.
The Ouse Valley Way runs through the reserve so you can pick this up to extend yor walk. If you head south along the river you will soon come to St Neots. Head north and you will come to Godmanchester and Huntingdon.
|Penrhos Coastal Park||2 miles (3.5 km)||This lovely coastal park consists of woodland trails and nice coastal views. The area is a country park and nature reserve with waymarked nature trails and lots of wildlife to look out for. Highlights are the resident red squirrels, badgers and various wildfowl around the two large ponds. You can also enjoy a stroll to Penrhos beach. Here you can enjoy splendid views across the bay and study some interesting rock formations.|
Cyclists can visit the reserve by following National Cycle Route 8 from Holyhead. It's a lovely ride passing Penrhos beach before arriving at the park.
This route starts at the car park at Penrhos beach and follows a cycling and walking trail through the park to Beddmanarch Bay.
The Anglesey Coast Path runs through the park so you can pick this up to extend your walk. If you follow it along the coast you will come to Breakwater Country Park where you can climb Holyhead Mountain for wonderful views over Anglesey, the Isle of Man, the Skerries and the mountains of Ireland.
|Point of Ayr||1 miles (1 km)||This beautiful coastal Nature Reserve on the Dee Estuary is a great place for a walk with splendid views and an abundance of wildlife. There are nice sandy paths through the dunes with thousands of feeding birds to look out for. These include Curlew, Peregrine and
Oystercatcher. Also look out for natterjack toads.|
You can also enjoy a walk along the lovely Talacre beach and visit the 18th century Point of Ayr lighthouse providing it is not high tide! Talacre beach has miles of golden sand with great views over the Irish Sea.
|Potteric Carr Nature Reserve||2 miles (4 km)||Follow a network of footpaths around this large nature reserve in Doncaster. There are nearly 500 acres to explore with habitats including marsh, scrub, waterways, grassland and woodland. Over 230 species of bird have been spotted in the reserve including Bittern, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Kingfisher. Also look out for other wildlife including Roe Deer and Grass Snakes.|
There is an abundance of interesting plantlife in the reserve too. Yellow iris and pink violets can be seen near the waterways while hawthorn blossom lines the pathways. The reserve also has very good on site facilities including a Visitor centre and cafe. It is located less than 2 miles south of the centre of Doncaster.
|Riverside Park Nature Reserve||2 miles (3 km)||This lovely nature reserve in Guildford has nice boardwalks and footpaths to follow through the site. The reserve is located next to the River Wey and has a man made lake, a woodland area and lots of wildlife to look out for. |
There's lots of interesting flora with wildflowers including ox-eye daisies, bluebells and the white flowered meadow sweet, yellow flag iris and bright rose-pink flowers of the willow herb. Water loving birds such as Great crested grebe, water-rails, herons and reed buntings can also be seen in the wetlands area. Keep and eye out for roe deer and rabbits in the woods.
National Cycle Network route 223 runs through the reserve so you can bring your bike too. The route runs from Guildford town centre right to the reserve so it's easy to visit by bike.
To extend your walk you can pick up the Wey South Path and continue along the river to Parsonage Water Meadows which is about a half a mile west of the reserve.
Also nearby is Whitmoor Common where you will find extensive heathland, woodland, grassland and ponds crossed with miles of footpaths.
|Rostherne Mere||1 miles (1 km)||Visit this pretty natural lake in the village of Rostherne, Cheshire. The area is a designated nature reserve where you can look out for a variety of wildfowl on the water. The reserve has no public access but there is a public footpath and viewpoint to the west of the mere. This is on Rostherne Lane and is shown on the google street view link below. It's an attractive area with the peaceful mere surrounded by woodland and countryside. Bring your binoculars and look out for cormorants, great crested grebe, tufted duck, pochard, goldeneye, teal and wigeon. |
The drone video below shows St Mary's Church in the village of Rostherne and a bird's eye view of the mere and surrounding countryside.
For cyclists Regional Cycle Route 70 runs through the village of Rostherne just to the south of the mere. You can then follow country lanes around the water.
|Scadbury Park||2 miles (3.5 km)||This pretty Local Nature Reserve in Bromley has some nice footpaths to try. There's 300 acres of ancient woodland, grassland and ponds to explore. Also of interest is the working farm and the ruins of Scadbury Manor. The playwright Christopher Marlowe is known to have stayed at Scadbury Manor just before his death in 1593. It was then owned by Marlowe's patron Sir Thomas Walsingham, a courtier to Queen Elizabeth I. |
This circular walk runs around the edge of the park for just over 2 miles but there are other footpaths to try as well. The Acorn Nature Trail is a waymarked walk taking you around the site. Look out for green ring-necked parakeets and a variety of butterflies near the fruit trees. Interesting vegetation includes bluebells, yellow archangel and wood anemones.
The London Loop runs through Scadbury Park so you can pick this up to extend your walk. Heading south will take you through Petts Wood and Jubilee Country Park. Here you'll find more woodland trails and wildlife including amphibians, birds, butterflies, insects, mammals and reptiles.
If you head north east along the London Loop you will soon come to Foots Cray Meadows where you will find 250 acres of parkland and woodland.
|Seaton Marshes||2 miles (3.5 km)||Follow the Seaton Tramway Walk from Seaton to Colyford through the beautiful Seaton Marshes on this walk in East Devon. The area is part of the Seaton Wetlands Nature Reserve which includes the marshes and Colyford Common. The reserve is located just to the north of the town and includes ditches and ponds that attract large variety of wildfowl, waders and butterflies. There's also numerous creeks and lagoons with Little Egrets, Curlew and White Shelducks to look out for. The marshes are positioned next to the Axe Estuary so there are also great views across the river to the Axe Marsh on the other side.|
The reserve has very good facilities with a car park, viewing platforms, picnic tables and a discovery hut.
Seaton Marshes is located just to the west of the wonderful Undercliff National Nature Reserve. You can visit the reserve on the Lyme Regis to Seaton Undercliff Walk. It's a wonderful clifftop path with a wide variety of rare flora and fauna. The stretch of coast is also of high geological significance with rocks from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of geological time. It is a great place to extend your walking in the Seaton area.
You could also follow the South West Coast Path west and visit the villages of Beer and Branscombe.
|Selsdon Wood||2 miles (3 km)||This woodland and nature reserve in Croydon is criss crossed with a number of nice footpaths and walking trails. The reserve includes 200 acres of ponds, open meadows and ancient woodland including oak, beech, ash and sweet chestnut. There's two colour coded waymarked trails which you can pick up from the car park. |
The area is also known as the Bird Sanctuary with birds such as Blackcap, Buzzard, Cuckoo and Chiffchaff to look out for. Also keep your eyes peeled for Roe Deer, various insects and the rare White Squirrel.
It's great for flora too with 130 flowering plants to see. These include Crocus, Red Campion, Bluebell and Cowslip.
The London Loop and the Vanguard Way pass through the wood so you can pick these long distance footpaths up and extend your walk. One option is to follow the trails north to Littleheath Woods and then on to Addington Hills. This lovely park includes London's largest area of heathland and a great viewpoint with views towards Parliament Hill and Docklands. Just to the west of Addington Hills is Croham Hurst Woods where you'll find ancient woodland and a climb to Breackneck Hill.
Heading east from Selsdon Wood will take you to Frith Wood and Frylands Wood.
Heading south will take you into Surrey, passing Greatpark Wood, Holt Wood and Chelsham.
For cyclists National Cycle Route 21 passes close to the woods at New Addington.
|Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve||2 miles (3 km)||Follow a series of well laid out footpaths around this lovely nature reserve on this short walk in Sevenoaks. The site covers 71 hectares (175 acres) and includes several lakes, ponds, reedbed and woodlands. The reserve attracts a wide variety of birds including Greylag Goose, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Moorhen, Coot, Great Crested Grebe and Tufted Duck. |
Waymarked trails take you around the lakes where you can stop and look out for the birds from one of the hides. You can also visit the pretty elemental gardens with wild flowers, orchids and habitats designed to attract various insects and butterflies.
There's also a very good visitor centre with a wealth of information and touch tables where you can handle birds nests and birds feathers.
If you would like to extend your walk you could head a couple of miles south and visit Knole Park. Here you will find 500 resident deer, ancient woodland, dry heathland, acid grassland and wood pasture.
|Shapwick Heath||2 miles (3 km)||Explore this lovely nature reserve in the Somerset's Levels. Part of the Avalon Marshes, Shapwick Heath is one of several nature reserves in the area. There's reedbeds, wildflower meadows, fens, woods and lots of open water. It's great for wildlife with egrets, bitterns, otters, great-crested grebes and white admiral butterfly to look out for. There's nearly 1000 acres to explore on a number of a walking trails and a cycle trail. It's a splendid place for a walk with such a wide variety of habitats and wildlife to enjoy.|
You can start your walk from the Avalon Marshes Visitor Centre on Shapwick Road. It has a large car park and a wealth of information about the area. It is just a short walk from here to the nice waterside stroll along the South Drain Path. Just south of that is the Sweet Track which runs along ancient wooden trackways.
The reserve is located just a few miles west of Glastonbury. You could visit the site by bike by following National Cycle Network Roue 3 from Glastonbury. You could also follow the River Brue to Meare and Oxenpill at the northern edge of the reserve or the Glastonbury Canal.
To extend your walking you could visit the adjacent Ham Wall Nature Reserve where there are several more trails to try.
|Skipwith Common||5 miles (7.5 km)||This large open space near Selby has three colour coded, waymarked walks to try. There's 270 hectares of open heath, ponds, reed-bed and woodland to explore on miles of trails. The common is a nature reserve so look out for a wide variety of flora and fauna. Of particular note are the Exmoor ponies and a herd of wild fallow deer and roe deer. There are also a number of rare plants, including the unusual sundew, which is only found in the peat bogs and damp moorland of the common. The site includes boardwalks and viewing platforms from which to conveniently observe the plantlife and wildlife. |
You can also visit the nearby village of Skipwith with its church of St. Helen which dates back to the 10th century. Also of note are the Danes Hills Bronze age burial mounds and a number of pretty ponds.
|Slapton Ley||6 miles (10 km)||This walk takes you along Slapton Sands and the Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve in Devon. The lagoon at Slapton Ley is the largest natural freshwater lake in South West England. It's a beautiful area with the lovely shingle beach and the ocean on one side and the stunning lake on the other. There are a number of walking trails taking you through the reserve, including a family trail which takes about 45 minutes. You can also easily continue to the nearby village of Slapton.|
The reserve is fantastic for wildlife with a number of bird hides around the lake. Look out for Cetti's warbler, Swallows, Badgers and Otters as you make your way through the reserve.
For cyclists there is a super coastal road taking you past the lake and Slapton sands.
The South West Coast Path runs past the site so there is scope for continuing your walk along the coast towards Dartmouth or Salcombe.
|Slimbridge Wetland Centre||1 miles (2 km)||Enjoy a stroll around this super nature reserve between Bristol and Gloucester. There are 120 acres to explore on good footpaths and boardwalks which pass over the lakes. The reserve boasts the largest collection of amphibians in the UK and the splendid Flamingo lagoon with the UK’s largest flock of flamingos. You can view the birds from a fantasic sunken observatory. |
There is a well equipped bird hide and a wonderful rain garden which featured at the Chelsea Flower Show. You can also climb the Sloane Observation Tower for fantastic views of the Cotswolds and the River Severn.
The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal and the Severn Way pass the site so it's easy to continue your waterside walking in this lovely area.
|Smardale Gill Viadiuct||3 miles (5 km)||This walk takes you through the pretty Smardale Gill along the trackbed of a disused railway line. It leads to magnificent Smardale Viaduct. The viaduct was part of the South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway and has 14 arches, is 90 ft (27 m) high and 550 ft (170 m) long. It's an impressive sight with the structure surrounded by the lovely countryside of the Cumbrian hills and the pretty Smardale Beck which runs through the gill. |
The area is also a managed nature reserve with wildlflowers, woodland and grassland. Look out for flora such as bluebells, primrose and early purple orchid. Wildlife includes goldfinch, field fare and redwing with lots of butterflies around the wildflowers in the summer months. Red squirrels and roe deer can also be seen in the reserve.
To extend your walking in the area you could climb Smardale Fell or Crosby Garrett Fell for wonderful views over the surrounding area.
|Stanney Woods||1 miles (2 km)||Enjoy a series of woodland trails in this country park and nature reserve in Ellesmere Port. In the park you'll find ancient woodland of oak and silver birch and a wide variety of birdlife.|
|Stanpit Marsh||2 miles (2.5 km)||Enjoy lovely coastal views and a variety of wading birds in this nature reserve in Christchurch. It's a delightful area with lagoons, marshland, reed beds and splendid views back to Christchurch Priory and harbour. It's great for wildlife with over 300 birds spotted at the site. Look out for Curlew, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwits and Herons. Also keep an eye out for rabbits and the resident horses and their foals.|
You can park at the Stanpit Recreation Ground car park and then pick up the walking trails through the reserve. National Cycle Network Route 2 runs from Christchurch to the reserve on a nice traffic free path too.
To extend your walking in the area you can pick up the Stour Valley Way or the Avon Valley Path which run through Christchurch. Also nearby is the splendid Mudeford Quay and Hengistbury Head where you can enjoy coastal views towards the Purbeck Hills and the Isle of Wight. To reach Hengistbury Head you can walk east to Mudeford Quay and catch the ferry to Mudeford.
The Bournemouth Coast Path also runs past the reserve so you can pick this up and head along the coast to Highcliffe Castle and Coast too.
|Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve||4 miles (6.5 km)||This delightful nature reserve near Canterbury boasts the largest reedbeeds in the South East of England. There are miles of well laid out footpaths taking you past the reedbeds, wet grazing meadows and lagoons where you will see a wide variety of wildlife. Look out for bearded reedlings, bitterns, marsh harriers, sandpipers, grebes, kingfishers and rare garganey ducks. You may also see water voles, weasels or even an otter. There are also several bird hides and an observation mound.|
If you wanted to continue your walk the adjacent Westbere Marshes are well worth a visit. The Stour Valley Walk also runs through the reserve so you could follow this footpath along the River Great Stour towards Canterbury which lies a few miles to the west of Stodmarsh.
|Studland Heath Nature Reserve||7 miles (11 km)||Enjoy a lovely walk around this coastal nature reserve in Poole, Dorset. The walk begins next to the Sandbanks to Shell Bay chain ferry where parking is available. You then head into the reserve on walking trails some of which are way-marked. The trails take you through dunes and heathland where you will find a variety of birdlife flying between the trees and bushes. The purple bell heather and yellow gorse are particularly delightful in the summer months.|
The walk also visits the Little Sea - a large lake which attracts water loving birds. You can observe them in one of the bird hides on the edge of this lovely peaceful place. There are fabulous views of the islands of Poole harbour including Brownsea Island, Furzey Island and Green Island. On a clear day you should also be able to see Bournemouth Pier and the Isle of Wight.
The South West Coast Path passes the reserve so you could pick this up and head towards Old Harry Rocks and Swanage. From Sandbanks you can catch the ferry to Brownsea Island where you can enjoy more peaceful walking and wildlife.
|Sutton Park||4 miles (7 km)||This splendid park in Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham is the largest urban park in Europe and the largest outside a capital city. It covers 2,000 acres and includes numerous cycling and walking trails. A National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Sutton Park is a mixture of open heathland, woodlands, wetlands, marshes and lakes. For walkers there are currently 5 self-guided routes around the site. Cyclists please note that National Cycle Route 534 travels through the park and is part of an extensive new route between Sutton Coldfield and Castle Vale. |
There is an excellent visitor centre with gift shop, interpretive displays and maps. Sutton Park is located about six miles north of Birmingham City Centre.
If you would like to extend your outing then you could visit the nearby New Hall Valley Country Park and Pype Hayes Park where you will find more good cycling and walking trails.
|Tamar Estuary||2 miles (2.5 km)||Explore the Tamar Estuary Nature Reserve on this short walk near Saltash. The reserve is located a couple of miles north of Saltash. You can follow a footpath along the estuary from Cargreen to Landulph. Look out for wildlife including avocet, shelduck and large numbers of waders. You can see a great view of the estuary at Cargreen using the google street view link below. It's a lovely spot with lots of sailboats and the Cornish countryside in the background.|
To explore the beautiful Tamar Valley further you can pick up the Tamar Valley Discovery Trail and visit the lovely Lopwell Dam Nature Reserve.
|Testwood Lakes||2 miles (2.5 km)||Enjoy an easy, waterside walk around these two pretty lakes in Totton, on the eastern edge of the New Forest. There are well surfaced footpaths all the way around the lakes. The area is managed as a nature reserve so you will find a variety of interesting wild flowers and woodland around the lakes. You can also look out for various wildfowl and waders on the water using the two bird hides. There are good facilities with a Visitor centre, toilets and parking. |
If you'd like to extend your walk you could pick up the Test Way and follow the River Test to the nearby Lower Test Nature Reserve.
|Thatcham Discovery Centre||1 miles (2 km)||This delightful nature reserve in Thatcham is the perfect place for an easy waterside stroll in Berkshire. There are well laid out footpaths taking you to several lakes, reedbeds, along the Kennet and Avon Canal and to the Thatcham Community Orchard. There are very good facilities with a car park, bird hides, picnic area, a lakeside cafe and an excellent visitor centre with interactive wildlife and natural history displays.|
The reserve is a great place for wildlife. Look out for birds including fieldfare and redwing. The wildflowers attract various butterflies such as garden tiger, butterbur, waved black, holly blue, and gatekeeper.
To extend your walk you could head south of the reserve to Bowdown Woods and Greenham Common. At Bowdown Woods Nature Reserve you will find exceptionally rich woodland and a variety of wildlife including birds, reptiles, dragonflies and butterflies. Greenham Common is covered in heather and gorse and has nice wide footpaths to follow. There's also wildflower filled grasslands and wetland areas which attract dragonflies and birdlife. The woods and common are located just half a mile south of Thatcham Discovery Centre.
|The Chase Nature Reserve||2 miles (2.5 km)||This National Trust owned nature reserve has 143 acres of woodland to explore on a number of footpaths. It is located near to the villages of Woolton Hill and Enborne Row on the Hampshire/Berkshire border. The area consists of broadleaf and coniferous woodland with streams and lots of interesting flora and fauna to look out for. The snowdrops in early spring are particularly lovely. There is a car park just off station road which gives direct access to the trails.|
It's easy to extend your walking in the area by heading into the adjacent Penwood forest. You can also visit the real Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle just to the south of the reserve. Walbury Hill and Pilot Hill, the highest points in Berkshire and Hampshire respectivley, are also close by.
|Thursley National Nature Reserve||5 miles (7.5 km)||This lovely nature reserve has miles of footpaths taking you to fine heathland, ponds, lakes and deciduous woodland. It's one of the finest areas in the country for wildlife with birds including woodlark, Dartford warbler, nightjar, stonechat, whinchat and curlew. Also look out for some very rare butterflies including silver-studded blue, white-letter hairstreak and purple emperor. In the heathland area you may see reptiles such as the rare sand lizard and smooth snake. Rare dragonfly and damselfly can be spotted around the pools and lakes. In the fen and open water area you can see various water loving birds such as great crested grebe, mute swan, coot, water rail and little grebe. Finally in the woodland area you can see woodpeckers, woodcock, redstart, tawny owl, nightingale and hawfinch. |
This circular walk starts at the car park and takes you across Thursley Common to Silkmill Pond and Warren Mere. You then head across Ockley Common and pass Pudmore Pond before returning to the car park.
If you would like to continue your walk you could head to the nearby Frensham Country Park where there are miles of cycling and walking trails.
The Devil's Punch Bowl and Gibbet Hill is also a great option with more cycling and walking trails through a natural nature reserve, filled with heathland, streams and woodland.
The Greensand Way long distance footpath also runs through the common so you could pick this up to continue your walk.
|Titchfield Haven||6 miles (9 km)||Explore this beautiful coastal nature reserve and enjoy a stroll along the Titchfield canal on this circular walk near Fareham. The reserve boasts 369 acres of River, fen, pools, reedbed and meadow. These habitats attract a wide range of water loving wildlife. Look out for Reed Warblers, Bearded Tits, Water rails and Bittern around the reedbeds and Otters by the River Meon. There are a number of hides from which you can observe the wildlife. Other facilities include the Titchfield Haven Visitor Centre, tea room and exhibition about the history of the Solent area.|
This walk starts at the car park near Hillhead Harbour and takes you along the coast passing the Meon Shore chalets. You then turn inland and pass Bromwich Pond and some nice countryside before coming to the village of Titchfield. Here you could head north of the village and visit the interesting 13th century Titchfield Abbey. There are attractive grounds with ponds and major remains of the abbey to see.
From Titchfield a waterside section along the Titchfield Canal and the River Meon takes you back to the car park.
The Solent Way passes the reserve so you could pick this up to continue your walk. If you head south east you will come to Lee-on-the-Solent and Gosport. If you head west you will come to Southampton.
|Titchmarsh Nature Reserve||4 miles (6 km)||Enjoy waterside walking in this nature reserve in Thrapston, near Kettering. There are several large lakes to stroll around and you can also follow the Nene Way along the River Nene which runs through the reserve. Large numbers of wildfowl can be seen on the water including heron, goosander, wigeon, gadwal, reed warbler and sedge warbler. Along the river Nene you can look out for butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. |
If you would like to continue your walking in the area then you could follow the Nene Way to Stanwick Lakes for more lovely waterside walks.
|Warton Crag||3 miles (5 km)||This limestone hill near Carnforth stands at 163 metres (535 ft) making it the highest point in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is also a nature reserve with grassland, ancient semi-natural woodland and limestone pavement, supporting some of Britain's rarest butterflies. From the high point there are fabulous views of the River Keer estuary, Morecambe Bay, the Forest of Bowland, the Lake District Fells and the Yorkshire Dales.|
The area supports rare plants such as Rigid Buckler Fern and Juniper, Pale St. John's Wort and Angular Solomon's-seal. In the woodland area you can find Wood Anemone, Bluebell and Primrose as well as Early Purple Orchid, Violets and Pignut. It is also home to many rare butterflies including Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary and High Brown Fritillary.
If you would like to continue your walk you could head to the nearby Leighton Moss Nature Reserve where you will find the largest reedbed in the north west and an abundance of wildlife. The Lancashire Coastal Way also runs past Warton Crag so you could pick this up and head towards Arnside Knott where you can find more interesting wildlife and plantlife.
|Watchtree Nature Reserve||2 miles (4 km)||This super Nature Reserve near Carlisle has a series of cycling and walking trails to try. The area consists of reedbeds, lagoons, woodland, wild flower meadows and an elemental garden. Look out for a variety of birdlife including Skylarks, Meadow Pipit and Stonechat in the meadows. Curlew, Snipe and Oystercatcher can be seen around the wetlands area. You can also see Roe Deer, Fox and Red Squirell in the woodland. |
The reserve has an excellent visitor centre with information about the different interactive trails. Cycle hire is also available so you can explore the reserve by bike too.
|Weir Wood Reservoir||5 miles (8.5 km)||This 280 acre reservoir has a super waterside walking path running around its perimeter. The western end of the reservoir is a protected nature reserve and bird sanctuary designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Habitats include strips of open grassland, scrub and woodland. Low lying meadows also form part of the reserve. Look out for kingfisher, tern, osprey, teal swifts, swallows and whitethroat.|
The reservoir is located just to the west of Forest Row and about 7 miles north east of Haywards Heath.
The Forest Way and the Sussex Border Path both run past the reservoir so you could easily pick up either of these trails if you'd like to continue your walk.
If you head north you'll soon come to the National Trust owned Standen House. The Standen Estate has 100 acres of parkland, gardens and woodland to explore and is well worth a visit.
|Whisby Nature Park||3 miles (5.5 km)||This large nature reserve near Lincoln has miles of lovely walking trails to follow around a series of lakes. The reserve also consists of grassland, marsh, scrub and a small area of woodland. It's great for wildlife with birds such as Great crested grebe, Coot and Nightingale to look out for. |
There are six waymarked walks taking you around Thorpe Lake, Coot Lake, Grebe Lake and the Dragonfly Lakes. There's also a number of smaller ponds and a large area of grazing marsh. Look out for interesting flora such as the pretty purple marsh orchid and various wildlflowers.
Facilities are very good with car parking, an informative visitor centre and a nice cafe. There's also a number of bird hides from which to observe the wide variety of wildlife.
To continue your walking in the area you could head to the nearby Hartsholme Country Park. The park is only a couple of miles to the north east and has more good footpaths taking you around 200 acres of landscaped gardens, lakes, woodland and grassland. Right next to it you will find Swanholme Lakes Nature reserve where you can look out for more birdlife on the water.
A couple of miles to the east there are nice footpaths to follow along the River Witham into Lincoln.
If you'd like to visit the reserve by bike then you can follow National Cycle Network Route 64 and Regional Route 93 from the centre of Lincoln. This runs to Skellingthorpe, Swinethorpe and Eagle Moor to the north of the reserve. You can also follow Regional Route 93 along the River Witham and Newark Road to the south of the reserve.
|Whitbarrow National Nature Reserve||7 miles (11 km)||Enjoy wonderful limestone scenery, ancient woodland and rich ground flora in this nature reserve near Witherslack in the Lake District National Park. The walk starts at Mill Side and heads to Whitbarrow Scar on footpaths and quiet country lanes. You then climb to the high point known as the Lord's seat where you will find a large obelisk shaped cairn. From here there are marvellous panoramic views of the River Kent Estuary and Morecambe Bay. The return leg is a gentle descent along woodland paths passing Wakebarrow, Rough Hill Wood, Windy Howe and Watson's Wood before returning to Mill Side.|
Features in the reserve include a small traditional orchard with Westmorland damson and apple trees and pretty bluebell woodland. Wildlife lovers should look out for roe and red deer at Howe Ridding Wood. Birdlife includes buzzard, raven, sparrowhawk, woodcock, great spotted woodpecker, redstart and nuthatch.
Alfred Wainwright praises Whitbarrow in his book 'The Outlying Fells of Lakeland' describing it as 'the most beautiful [walk] in this book, beautiful it is every step of the way. ... All is fair to the eye on Whitbarrow.'
Whitbarrow can be easily reached from Kendal which is about 5 miles to the north east.
|Whiteford Sands||4 miles (6 km)||This beautiful nature reserve on the North Gower coast has lovely walking trails through woodland and sand dunes with nice coastal views. The area is fantastic for wildlife watching with several species of wading birds and wildfowl too look out for.|
The walk starts from the parking area in Llanmadoc and heads through Cwm Ivy where there are some nice woodland trails and Cwm Ivy marsh. You continue to Berges Island where you can enjoy great views across the sands to the lighthouse at Whiteford Point.
If you'd like to continue your walking in the area then you could climb the sandstone ridge across Cefn Bryn. The climb to Cefn Bryn beacon offers fabulous views over the Gower.
|Wicken Fen||9 miles (14 km)||Enjoy a walk or cycle through the beautiful Wicken Fen Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire. National Cycle Network route 11 runs right through Wicken Fen and there are some peaceful country lanes around the reserve. Bike hire is available from just £5.|
The route below starts at the pretty village of Wicken before passing through the reserve and into the surrounding countryside. You follow quiet lanes to Upware, located on the River Cam, before returning to Wicken Village.
In the reserve you will find flowering meadows, reedbeds and waterways where you can see a variety of wildlife such as hen harriers, water voles and bitterns. In the Baker's Fen area you can also see konik ponies, highland cattle, lapwings and barn owls. If you're on foot you can follow the Boardwalk Trail or the longer Nature Trail while stopping off at one of the many bird hides. In the summer months you can also enjoy a 50 minute boat trip along the waterways of Wicken Fen.
A number of options are available if you would like to continue your outing. If you're on foot you could follow the Fen Rivers Way along the River Great Ouse to Ely. For cyclists National Route 11 runs along quiet roads and the River Great Ouse to Ely. Or you can head east towards Newmarket via Burwell.
|Willow Tree Fen||2 miles (3 km)||This pretty nature reserve near Spalding has three colour coded walking trails to try. The reserve is located on the River Glen so there are nice waterside paths to follow. It is a typical fenland setting with meres, flooded pastures, hay meadows and reedbeds. Look out for lots of water loving wildlife such as black tailed godwit, marsh harriers, wigeon, teal, lapwing, redshank and snipe. You may also spot an otter or water vole by the river. |
The Macmillan Way runs through the reserve along the river so there is scope for extending your walk. Heading west will take you towards Thurlby while heading east takes you into Pinchbeck near Spalding.
Also nearby is Bourne Woods where there are miles of walking and cycling trails through ancient woodland with a mixture of conifers and broad-leaved trees, ponds and sculptures.
|Winnal Moors Nature Reserve||2 miles (2.5 km)||Enjoy a short stroll around this pretty nature reserve in Winchester. In the reserve you will find wetland with chalk stream, reedbeds and grassland. There are nice boardwalks taking you through the reedbeds and a water vole trail where you can look out for these elusive creatures in the slow moving streams. The area has lots of interesting flora and fauna with fen meadow containing wetland wildflowers such as ragged robin and marsh valerian. Look out for otters and birds including redshank, lapwing and snipe.
If you'd like to extend your walking in Winchester then you could climb to St Catherine's Hill for fine views over the town below, the River Itchen and the surrounding countryside of the South Downs. The Itchen Way passes the site so you can pick this up to continue your walk along the river.
|Wolfscote Dale||7 miles (12 km)||This walk visits Wolfscote Dale in the Dove Dale area of the Peak District. You can start the walk from the village of Hartington just north of the dale. There's a car park and cafe in the village so it makes a good start and end point for the walk. The footpaths then head south to Beresford Dale Nature Reserve before coming to Wolfscote Dale Nature Reserve. The path winds its way along the River Dove with woodland sections and a number of weirs to enjoy. It's a beautiful area with the option of continuing south along the river to Milldale and then on to Dovedale. You could also visit the nearby Ilam Park where there are beautiful gardens and views of the River Manifold. Just to the east of Wolfscote Dale is the Biggin Dale Nature Reserve. You could return to Hartington on the footpath through the reserve. It's a lovely area with lots of interesting plants and flowers to look out for.|
|Woodwalton Fen||4 miles (6 km)||Enjoy a short walk around this beautiful national nature reserve in Cambridgeshire. There are 500 acres to explore with habitats including wildflower meadows, mixed fen, marsh, reedbed, scrub, open water and woodland. There are several waymarked walking trails taking you around the reserve on wide grassy paths. You can stop at the bird hides and look out for a wide variety of wildlife before heading to Rothschild Bungalow - Charles Rothschild, a successful banker and wildlife enthusiast bought Woodwalton Fen in 1910 to preserve this lovely area.|
If you would like to continue your walk you could head to the nearby Holme Fen National Nature Reserve. Woodwalton Fen is located between Peterborough and Huntingdon.
The reserve is part of the larger Great Fen Wetland Project. You can visit the nearby Great Fen information point and try the lovely Dragonfly Trail. The 2 mile circular footpath is waymarked and includes ponds, woodland and lots of information points explaining the Great Fen project.
|Wye Downs||3 miles (5 km)||Explore this lovely area of chalk downland and woodland near Wye in Kent. Wye Downs is a nature reserve with several dramatic coombes formed in the ice age. This includes the Devil's Kneading Trough, a steep-sided valley with views of Romney Marsh, the Weald and the English Channel. The area is also home to interesting flora and fauna including several species of rare orchid. |
This circular walk starts at the Wye Downs car park off Coldharbour Lane. From here you can pick up the North Downs Way and other footpaths to explore the reserve. The paths first head north to the Wye Crown. This hill figure was carved in the chalk by students in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII. The route then heads through the woodland of Pickersdane Scrubs before crossing Broad Downs and returning to the car park.
If you prefer you could visit the reserve by following the North Downs Way from the village of Wye. The village is very pretty and well worth exploring. It was voted the third best place to live in the UK in an annual broadsheet's review in 2013.
You can virtually explore Wye Downs using the google street view link below!
|Wyming Brook||1 miles (1.5 km)||Enjoy a waterside walk along the pretty Wyming Brook on this walk near Sheffield. The footpath takes you through peaceful woodland with a babbling brook, mossy crags, stone steps and wooden bridges. You can start your walk from the car park off Redmires Road just north of the lower reservoir and the Redmires woodland plantation. You then head north through the reserve to Rivelin Dams. The walk could also be started from the Rivelin Lower Reservoir car park and completed from north to south. |
The brook links Redmires Reservoir and the Rivelin Dams so it's easy to extend your walk. Wyming Brook Drive runs just south of Rivelin Dams and is a good track for walking with more attractive woodland.
You're also not far from the Rivelin Valley Nature Trail. It's a similar walk taking you through a wooded gorge with a rushing river.