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Best local walks for ‘twixtmas’

Rally the troops, wrap up warm, grab your walking boots and head for the hills... or woods or fields for that matter, with one of these gorgeous winter walks in Herts and Beds.

We all know the drill, come Boxing Day we’ll have eaten our bodyweight in turkey, nailed an entire box of Quality Street, drunk approximately 8,000 units of wine, sherry, Champagne and Baileys and have been slumped on the sofa for three days straight. Here’s where to shake off the twixtmas coma and drag the family out for a long, bracing walk around Herts and Beds’. You’ll thank us for it later, rosy cheeks and all!

Ashridge Estate, Berkhamsted

National Trust: Photo Colin Sturgess

With 5,000 acres of the Chiltern Hills and woodland to romp around, there are plenty of walks to choose from, parking is free and the paths are buggy-friendly.

Lea Valley Circular, Wheathamstead

A great one for a Sunday morning with the dog. The route is here in detail but it’s pretty easy to find your way around the circular – you can park at East Lane car park for free, then walk onto the High Street, across the bridge and out towards the sticks. There are some pretty 18th century cottages on route, as well as Marshall’s Heath nature reserve. You can either cut the walk short by heading back to civilisation along the road or continue on the long distance path by Leasey Bridge.

Southern Country Parks, Bishop’s Stortford

Need to tire the kids out after a Christmas chocolate overload? There’s a nice route here, but you can also just have a wander around wherever you fancy. And you’re not just getting a walk here – there are loads of different areas and activities like a playground, maze, a big open space for kite flying, or snowball throwing, and even a dog agility park!

Tylers Hill and Ley Hill near Chesham

Right on the Herts/Bucks border, this five-miler takes in the villages of Tylers Hill and Ley Hill plus a stroll along the side of the River Chess.

Barton-le-Clay, Beds

Photo: Peter O’Connor/Flikr

This circular 6.25 mile walk is a good one for blowing the festive cobwebs away, and it takes in a nature reserve too, so there’s plenty to see for wildlife lovers. Plus, the area also has some interesting history – The Barton Hills are believed to have inspired the Celestial Mountains in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

Rushmere Country Park, Heath and Reach

Photo: Rushmere Country Park

This one’s ideal for families and little explorers as you can do as much or as little of the trails as you like within the 400 acres of woodlands, and there’s a fab natural sculpture trail with carved creatures, giant chairs and secret fairy doors, to keep little legs moving along! There’s this 4-mile route, which takes around 1.5 hours, or take the 1-mile shortcut which takes around 30 minutes.

Amwell Nature Reserve, Ware

Image credit: Herts Wildlife Trust

Brimming with all kinds of fauna, like rare orchids (no picking) and wintering wildfowl, this area of Hertfordshire is actually an SSSI (a Site of Special Scientific Interest to you and me). Made up of a patchwork of terrains, including rivers, lakes and streams, woodland and grassland, it’s not just budding boffins that’ll think Christmas has come early (er, or again). Keep your eyes peeled for all manner of critters – from otters to ducks and geese visiting for their winter hols. For panoramic views across the reserve, head over to the White Hide, where you’ll get a birds-eye view of all the islands in one satisfying swoop. Find out more here.

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