One of the main benefits of our branch towns is the proximity to the glorious countryside. Many of our towns and villages benefit from local nature reserves, parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, which at this time of year can resemble a winter wonderland all preserved in frost to create a picture perfect frozen landscape.

With the festive season approaching, you may be looking for somewhere to stretch your legs after too much turkey or a gentle stroll to blow out the cobwebs come New Years Day. Over 70% of us choose to walk in the country during the festive break, with so many rural escapes right on our doorstep, you’ll be spoilt for choice, but we’ve put together just a few to showcase the beautiful surroundings and options available.

The Vyne | Sherborne St John

This Tudor mansion offers plenty of areas for walking and exploring. The Vyne is a National Trust site, currently undergoing restoration works, as such you can walk around the rooftop of this stunning home on a Father Christmas and Friends trail which spans the grounds and the rooftop, offering a child-friendly solution to a brisk winter’s walk. There is also a woodland trail which navigates through the woodland, along a medieval boundary to the park, for directions on the walk and further details on opening hours and parking, click here.

Surrey Hills 

The Surrey Hills offer so many glorious hilltop views, with the North Downs Way, Devil’s Punch Bowl and Box Hill to name a few. A vast array of walks vary in length and ease of access, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, there is something for everyone. For details of your local routes, click here.

Fleet Pond Nature Reserve

Fleet Pond is the largest freshwater lake in Hampshire, with over 140 acres of wildlife habitats. Owned by the council and managed between a selection of agencies, it is a wonderful local asset and a beautiful area to explore. With a steady terrain which encounters streams, Basingstoke Canal, open woodland and of course Fleet Pond, with the optional pub stop, this is a great place to take a wander during the festive season! For details of route options and a first-hand account of the walk, click here.

Whitehill and Hannington

A slightly longer walk, at 7 miles with a degree of difficulty, this circular walk takes in some incredible views. Starting from the Whitehill viewpoint near Kingsclere, the route passes through the North Hampshire Downs and includes a section of the Wayfarers Walk. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see for miles, across stunning countryside including Watership Down, which inspired the novel of the same name, and areas of land owned privately by Andrew Lloyd Webber. For the detailed route, visit here

Hook to Rotherwick circular route

The area surrounding Hook offers many picture perfect villages and hamlets, including Rotherwick. This circular track takes you from Hook Village Centre, exploring the local countryside, through the woods, across streams and fields until you arrive by the duck pond in Rotherwick. Rotherwick does of course have a pub, offering an optional stop on your path, before heading back through the woods to Hook. 

 

Wherever you find your feet over Christmas, we hope that our shortlist helps inspire you to take a breath of fresh air and head outside over the festive period.