Are you tired of watching repeats on television? Feeling a bit bilious after one too many mince pies? Have you forgotten what the outside world looks like? Well, have no fear! Daily Info is here with some of the very best walks to go on this festive period, which make for beautiful natural escapes, whatever the time of year.
An Earth Trust double
The always fabulous Earth Trust run a number of nature reserves, and a pair of these stick out as particularly great destinations for a wintery walk. Thrupp Lake (in Radley, Abingdon) is a gorgeous spot, with a gentle mile-long track that takes you around this beautiful body of water. There’s plenty of wildlife to spot, with the natural beauty apparent at whatever time of year you visit. Dogs are allowed, but it should be noted there’s limited parking and no toilets onsite.
The charity also maintain South Oxfordshire’s spectacular Wittenham Clumps. Made up of a pair of hills, the views from this spot are some of the best in the area. There’s a car park onsite, and dogs are allowed to join, but must be kept on a lead when there are cattle grazing in the field. The nearby woodland is perfect to explore with younger members of your party, as there's a number of dens hidden away.
Check out all the sites that the Earth Trust maintains and all the natural beauty they have to offer.
A site of former grandeur
A fabulous little walk in Stadhampton is the Ascott Park Historical Trail. If you head towards the Crazy Bear Farm Shop (where you can order a warming beverage) you can take yourself through this trail and onto the spot where a manor house used to be (all that is left are the gates, an ice room and a dovecot). It's gorgeous in the mist or frost, isn't too long and even has fairy doors to be spotted, which are always great fun with younger members of the family. And those looking to refuel with an alcholic beverage have The Crown, which can be found if you walk through Stadhampton at the end.
A wander down the Thames Path
At 184 miles in length, it would take roughly 14 days to traverse the Thames Path and reach the end destination of Henley. So Daily Info aren’t suggesting this is how you spend your Christmas break. Instead, you can take in a portion of the route, maybe between two of the surrounding towns and villages, so you can find suitable refreshments as part of your walk.
A particularly great stretch is between Benson and Wallingford. A picturesque route that leads you past the spectacular Castle Meadow (worth a detour to take in the ruins of the eponymous keep) and into the charming Wallingford. There is a host of fine eateries to be found but Daily Info has a fondness for the Town Arms (which can be found near the river), with their terrific burgers and lovely secluded pub garden (with heated booths too!)
Christmas by name…
On the border between Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, Christmas Common has gained a reputation as a great spot for a Christmas tree. But it’s also a great place to stretch your legs and work off some of those festive indulgences. Watlington Hill gives you gorgeous views of the surround area, whilst Blackmoor Woods is a wonderfully atmospheric location. And the Fox and Hounds offers a great food and drink locale, thanks to its over 500 years of history.
While Oxford may be commonly associated with the River Thames (along with the rowers, water birds, and wild swimmers that call it home), the canal also offers a range of picturesque walks. From the centre of town, it's possible to join the canal at either Hythe Bridge Street, Canal Street, Walton Well Road, or Aristotle Lane - following it up towards the green spaces of Port Meadow and The Trap Grounds, or continuing northwards. In theory, it's possible to walk from Oxford all the way to Coventry along the towpath, crossing only a single road. But for those who don't want to be sent to Coventry, the destinations of Wolvercote or Kidlington also offer great locations to admire the view. For the historically-minded, 90-minute Heritage Trail is available, with either a printable or audio guide offering facts about ten sites on the canal towpath.
No car? No problem. For those in Central Oxford, the green spaces of Christ Church Meadow, University Parks, South Park, and Florence Park offer walks of varying lengths. For a riverside amble, Christ Church Meadow offers views of both the River Cherwell and the River Thames, with wide and level paths able to accommodate pushchairs and wheelchairs. The University Parks can also offer a waterside stroll, with another flat and wide section of path running alongside the River Cherwell (and a well-populated duck pond). From the hilly summit of South Park, walkers can bask in the iconic Oxford Skyline, while Florence Park may be of interest to younger walkers, with its adventure playgrounds. For those seeking a longer wander, several of the parks can be combined; for example, from University Park it's possible to loop via Mesopotamia Walk and Headington Hill Park to South Park, and from Christchurch Meadow one can follow the Thames Path down to Donnington Bridge, and then via Meadow Lane to The Kidneys.