National Trust winter walks: Trails to suit your mood in Berkshire and Oxfordshire
There are many reasons to get out on a winter walk when daylight hours are few and National Trust-owned areas of countryside provide a variety of walking options.
Fresh air and the simple movement of limbs is so important for our wellbeing, especially at this time of year. However, when the days can be grey and the going distinctly muddy, we sometimes need an extra push to encourage us to appreciate the sculptural natural beauty revealed by winter.
These walks are across countryside looked after by the National Trust, but they don’t require membership to access*. There are woodland walks for drizzly days, pub walks for a social get-together and riverside walks for reflective moods.
So pull on your boots, wrap up warm and make the most of the season in all its stark beauty.
Maidenhead and Cookham Commons’ Wind in the Willows walk
There is no membership or admission charge for this 3-mile walk of moderate terrain.
The walks takes you through the village of Cookham Dean along quiet country lanes, across common land, farmland and woodland.
It passes the boyhood home of Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the Willows and continues through Quarry and Fultness Woods, which were the inspiration for the 'Wild Wood’ of the book where badger lived.
There is a longer, 5-mile route for those who are feeling energetic and there are a couple of pubs en route if you get thirsty.
Dogs are welcome.
Streatley’s chalk grasslands trail, Goring and Streatley, Berkshire
This is the best long hike for clearing the cobwebs – seven miles with some challenging hills.
This walk takes in three adjacent areas of National Trust land, Lardon Chase, the Holies and Lough Down and has wonderful views over Streatley and the Goring Gap.
Parts of the area were once used as a motorbike scrambling course, but the habitat has gradually been restored and now it form one of the largest remaining areas of chalk grassland in the country. In the winter the bare bones of the landscape are revealed, but it’s also worth coming back in summer for the wild flowers and butterflies.
There is no membership or admission charge and dogs welcome.
Take drinks and snacks.
White Horse Hill to Ashdown walk, Uffington, near Faringdon, West Oxfordshire
Four miles with some steep slopes. Dog friendly.
This walk starts at the iconic White Horse Hill. Take a moment to think about the people who created this chalk-cut hill figure, the oldest in Britain at around 3000 years old. There are incredible, far-reaching views over six counties from the top of the hill.
The walk then follows a section of the Ridgeway route across the ancient chalk downs of Oxfordshire. It takes in a Neolithic, chambered long barrow, Waylands Smithy, and Ashdown, an unusual Dutch-style house nestling in woodland.
No membership or admission charge
Buscot Red walk, near Faringdon, West Oxfordshire
Three miles of flat terrain and dogs welcome.
This walk follows a section of the Thames path near its source. The walk starts in the pretty village of Buscot and crosses the smallest lock on the River Thames. You pass two Second World War bunkers and a wharf built by Edward Loveden in the late 18th century when the estate was at a prosperous high point. It was used for transporting cheese to London and coal back from London to the estate.
You’ll cross large and little wooden bridges, farmland and see lovely riverside views. Look out for kingfishers, otters and kites near the weir.
There is a café at Buscot village.
No membership needed, pay and display car park.
*Greys Court, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
A two-mile walk with gentle hills. Normal admission fees apply.
This short walk is easily followed as it’s waymarked by red arrows. You can ask at visitor reception where to start. You’ll walk through woodland with bronze beech leaves clinging on to branches, ancient gnarled oaks and cherry trees. Look out for veteran trees with broken branches and holes where birds, squirrels and dormice might be nesting.
You’ll walk rolling Chiltern hills with restful views and farmland with grazing animals, so please keep dogs on leads.
There is a café at Greys Court. Pleases note the house is closed from until February 15, except February 5, 6, 12 & 13.