The Twelve Walks of Christmas: Forestry England’s guide to the best woodland walks this festive season
Stretch your legs, breathe in some fresh air and walk off all that delicious festive food with a family visit to one of the nation’s forests near you this Christmas holiday. Keep your eyes out for the sparkle of frost on twigs, mistletoe in branches and red-breasted robins pecking on holly berries. Wrap up warm and pack your flask of hot chocolate as you pick your perfect walk from Forestry England’s roundup.
And to keep the youngest walkers entertained while they burn off some energy, take a moment before you set out to download some of our fun, free Christmas family activity sheets. Some activities – like making your very own forest floor Christmas tree from collected twigs, moss and leaves – will work well on the move. For other activities – like making and painting a cute pine cone robin to hang on the tree – take a treasure bag with you for forest explorers to collect cones and leaves as they scamper in the winter woodland. You’ve then got the perfect post-walk family activity to do together when you get home with a mince pie and a hot chocolate before the TV goes on!
Enjoy these Twelve Walks of Christmas this festive season:
Crosscliff View trail, Dalby Forest, Yorkshire
An easy access trail on a flat, even surface, perfect for families with children. Enjoy extensive views of Blakey Topping peak from the viewpoint.
White Horse trail, Kilburn Forest, Yorkshire
From the white horse car park, after an initial climb up alongside the horse, you will be rewarded with fantastic views over the Vale of York on a clear day. The iconic White Horse is visible for many miles and covers half an acre. It has been overlooking the village of Kilburn since the late 1850s.
Ridding Wood trail, Grizedale, Cumbria
This accessible trail offers a great introduction to the forest and the sculptures. It passes through beautiful oak woodland as well as some unusual and ornate trees, whose incredible structure with bare branches highlighted, make a wonderful winter sight as you stroll.
Riverside trail, Hamsterley Forest, County Durham
This short walking trail is pushchair and wheelchair friendly and winds alongside the banks of Bedburn beck. As well as having fun exploring the woodland, children can discover the Gruffalo sculptures, adding excitement about what they’ll discover around the next corner.
Ober Water trail, New Forest, Hampshire
Two circular trails follow the Ober Water midway between its source and the sea. Both routes offer lots of space for children to run around taking in woods and open forest, with spectacular views along the way.
Tall Trees trail, New Forest, Hampshire
Just follow this waymarked trail and you’ll be guided along a shady path beneath mighty Douglas firs and redwoods that were planted during the reign of Queen Victoria. The trail covers 1.5 miles and is flat with a fairly smooth gravelled surface.
Pinetum Trail, Bedgebury, Kent
Enjoy a walk in the National Pinetum on a waymarked trail amongst extraordinary trees which look beautiful throughout the winter months. This route is suitable for all ages and abilities. Be inspired by stunning vistas of majestic and unusual conifers, ancient oaks and a huge variety of remarkable trees all nestled in the rolling hills of the Kent High Weald.
Green walk at Great Hockham, Thetford Forest, Norfolk/Suffolk
Wander amongst Scots and Corsican pine plantations that are blended with mature oak trees for a perfect winter walk. This quiet and relaxing place is the perfect place to enjoy nature and notice the sights and sounds of winter wildlife.
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire
Winter brings a whole new perspective to the arboretum, as after the leaves have dropped, the true architecture of the deciduous trees can be seen in their splendour. On a fine winter’s day look out for the bright orange bark of Scots pine with its blue-green needles standing out against the sky. Choose a walking trail to take you through this winter wonderland.
Discovery trail, Haldon Forest Park, Devon
The Discovery Trail is an easy-going 1.5 mile walk with spectacular views across Exeter and Dartmoor, and regular seating points to soak up the sights and sounds. On-site Tramper hire makes the forest accessible for the entire family, no matter their fitness or mobility [booking strongly recommended].
The Ranger’s Path, Sherwood Pines, Nottinghamshire
The newest walking trail at this popular Nottinghamshire woodland is also the longest with a 4.5 mile (7.2km). Circular route. The trail is clearly way-marked so map reading skills aren’t required and it’ll take you into some quieter areas of the forest taking in pine, broadleaf and heathland areas as you go.
The Woodpecker trail, Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire
This medieval woodland near Northampton and Milton Keynes is the perfect place for a wintery wander. The Woodpecker Trail at six miles long lets you really stretch your legs look out for ancient oaks, deer and the occasional red kite along the way.
Notes to editor
- Images are available here. Please credit Forestry England/Crown copyright.
- Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, with over 296 million visits per year. As England’s largest land manager, we shape landscapes and enhance forests for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. We are continuing the work we have already started to make the nation’s forests resilient to climate change and by 2026 we will:
- create at least 6,000 more hectares where we integrate wilding activities in our productive forests.
- increase the diversity of visitors to the nation’s forests and have one million hours of high-quality volunteer time given to the nation’s forests
- plant at least 2,000 hectares of new, high quality, predominantly broadleaf woodlands
For more information visit forestryengland.uk. Forestry England is an agency of the Forestry Commission.
Naomi Fuller, Media Relations Officer