Dec 302012
 

NB Please note that this was a Supplement article, with a maximum allowance of only 170 words approx. for each walk. So these are sketchy directions. But you should be able to work out the exact route if you relate the walk instructions to the relevant OS Explorer map.

1. Rock & Polzeath, Cornwall
Everything is very John Betjeman around this wonderful stretch of the Camel Estuary, the poet’s favourite corner of Cornwall. Start this beautiful walk with a ferry ride over the estuary from Padstow; then follow the South West Coast Path up the coast via St Enodoc’s, the ‘church in the sands’ where Betjeman is buried, to Daymer Bay. Then it’s over the cliffs above Greenaway beach (magnificent in storm seas), to Polzeath’s long surfing beach (ditto), and back through Cornish fields and farms.

Map OS Explorer 106
Start Ferry car park, Rock, PL27 6LD; OS ref SW 928759; ferry from Padstow, or signed from B3314 (Polzeath signs from A39 at Wadebridge)
The walk Follow the coast path north to Polzeath (detouring inland to St Enodoc’s Church); return via Shilla Mill (940783), Llangollan (945778), Trewiston (944773), Penmayne (948759), Trefresa (948757) and Porthilly (939753)
How hard is it? 6½ miles. Cliff paths and farmland; a good stretch with not too much up-and-down
Eat en route The Sandbar, Polzeath (01208 869655)

2. Worth Matravers & St Alban’s Head, Dorset
Purbeck is a wild and rugged stretch of the Dorset coast. From the old stone-quarrying village of Worth Matravers you descend a narrow cleft to Winspit, a cliff notorious for its winter wrecks (the worst, in 1786, claimed 168 lives). West along the cliffs stands the vaulted and buttressed Norman chapel of St Aldhelm, a lonely seamark. Back in Worth Matravers, the Square & Compass is a cosy and characterful pub – sensational pies!

Map OS Explorer OL15
Start Square & Compass PH, Worth Matravers, BH19 3LF; OS ref SY 975775; signed from B3069 at Langton Matravers (off A351 Corfe-Swanage)
The walk 150m past church, turn left (972773) on path to coast at Winspit (976761). Right on SW Coast Path past St Aldhelm’s Chapel (961755), then for another 1½ miles to hamlet in Hill Bottom (963773). Leave Coast Path; north on Purbeck Way for 500m; right (966781) to Worth Matravers.
How hard is it? 5 miles. Well-marked field and cliff paths, with some steep short ascents
Eat en route Square & Compass PH (01929 439229)

3. Godshill, Isle of Wight
The thatched houses of Godshill ooze rustic charm. A lovely old driveway takes you through rolling parkland to reach Appuldurcombe House, palely glimmering among trees – the eerie semi-ruin of an 18th-century mansion, famous all over the island for its many ghosts. Back at Freemantle Gate you pass over the steeply scarped Gat Cliff (sensational views) before dipping south through more parkland and back to Godshill. All Saints Church contains a beautiful 15th-century fresco of Christ on a cross of lilies.

Map OS Explorer OL29
Start Griffin Inn, High Street, Godshill PO38 3JD; OS ref SZ 530817; bus 2, 3 (islandbuses.info); A3020 Newport-Shanklin
The walk A3020 (Shanklin direction) for 250m; right (533817, ‘Wroxall’) on drive to Freemantle Gate (540807). In another 100m, fork left to outskirts of Wroxall (546802); right to Appuldurcombe House (543801). Right to Freemantle Gate; left (Worsley Trail) to Gat Cliff (534805) and Sainham Farm (528810). Right into trees; left (530810) to Godshill.
How hard is it? 3½ miles. Rolling parkland, good conditions underfoot; a nice stroll
Eat en route Griffin Inn (01983 840039)

4. Alfriston & Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex
No direction-finding problems here – the path follows the snaking Cuckmere River all the way from Alfriston to the sea and back. Views in both directions are fabulous. Setting out from the old inland smuggling village of Alfriston, you cut through a cleft in steeply rolling downland – look for the White Horse cut into the top of the well-named High & Over Down. A complete contrast is the flat apron of marshy ground through which the river winds in silvery sinuations to Cuckmere Haven and the dazzling white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters.

Map OS Explorer 123
Start The Willows car park, Alfriston, BN26 5UQ; OS ref TQ 521033; bus 126 (cuckmerebus.freeuk.com); signed off A27 Lewes-Eastbourne
The walk Follow right (west) bank of Cuckmere River south for 3¼ miles to Exceat Bridge; Vanguard Way to Cuckmere Haven (515978); Cuckmere River cut (west bank) back to Exceat Bridge, then right (east) bank north to Alfriston
How hard is it? 9 miles. Flat, easy riverside paths.
Eat en route Golden Galleon, Exceat Bridge (01323-892247)

5. Hampton Court to Richmond, Middlesex
This is a walk packed with history. The Thames Path makes a grand curve round Cardinal Wolsey’s great Tudor palace of Hampton Court. You cross the four pale stone arches of Kingston Bridge, and continue north along the Thames past fine houses and boatyards to reach the thundering weir at Teddington Lock. Soon you pass Eel Pie Island, whose dance hall hosted The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and lots more embryo stars in the 1960s. Then comes Ham House, a handsome Jacobean riverbank mansion, before you reach Richmond by way of Petersham’s waterside meadows.

Map OS Explorer 161
Start Hampton Court station KT8 9AE; OS ref TQ 154683; rail from Waterloo, Zone 6
Finish Richmond station TW9 2NA (District line, Zone 4)
The walk Cross the Thames to north bank; right on Thames Path to Kingston Bridge (177694); cross to right (east) bank; north to Richmond Bridge (178745); inland to Richmond station
How hard is it? 8 miles. Flat, well-marked, easy underfoot
Eat en route Tiltyard Café, Hampton Court Palace (020 3166 6971) – child-friendly, no Palace ticket needed

6. Hellfire Caves, West Wycombe, Bucks
A lovely path runs south along a spine of Chiltern woodland to reach the scene of the misdeeds and mischiefs of Sir Francis Dashwood’s mid-18th century Hellfire Club. The great golden ball moored to St Lawrence’s Church tower was the Club’s card and boozing den, the flint-built hexagon alongside is the Mausoleum built to house the members’ hearts, and the labyrinthine stone quarries in the hill below were the notorious Hellfire Caves. Lots of hokum, whiffs of magic and orgies, all enjoyably explored these days in the tourist-orientated caves (hellfirecaves.co.uk).

Map OS Explorer 172
Start Saunderton station, near West Wycombe, HP14 4LJ; OS ref SU 813981; on A4010 Princes Risborough-High Wycombe
The walk From lane (812977), follow woodland track for 2 miles to St Lawrence’s Church (827950), Mausoleum, and Hellfire Caves (829948). Return via A40 (826945), Great Cockshoots Wood (813948), road at Chorley Farm (816955) and Buttlers Hanging nature reserve (819961) to woodland track (821962); left to Saunderton.
How hard is it? 6 miles. Woodland and farmland tracks.
Eat en route George & Dragon, West Wycombe (01494 535340)

7. Nympsfield & Owlpen, Glos
Starting high on the South Cotswold ridge at Nympsfield, you plunge down through the trees to find the secret valley of Owlpen with its Tudor manor house of beautiful silvery stone. Back along Fiery Lane to Uley, steeply up a grassy hill to the Iron Age hillfort of Uley Bury (there’s a stunning prospect from its ramparts across the River Severn into Wales), and a return through the woods to the roaring fire in the Rose & Crown.

Map OS Explorer 168
Start Rose & Crown, Nympsfield, GL10 3TU; OS ref SO 800005; signed off B4066 Stroud-Dursley road (M5 Jct 13, A419)
The walk Nympsfield church; in 200m, right (803003); cross road (802000); Dingle Wood; south to Fiery Lane (797986). Left to Owlpen Manor (800984); return to Uley (792986). Beside churchyard, right to Uley Bury (787990). Cotswold Way (787993) north for 1¼ miles; cross B4066 (795008); Nympsfield
How hard is it? 6 miles. Short steep climb to Uley Bury
Eat en route Rose & Crown, Nympsfield (01453 860240); Old Crown, Uley (01453 860502)

8. Brancaster to Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk
The Norfolk Coast path skirts a wonderfully moody coast under enormous skies. The seawall path makes a grandstand for bird-watching, and this is the best time of year to stroll at the edge of the saltmarsh, binoculars at the ready for pinkfooted geese, golden plover and clouds of wigeon, with snow buntings on the shore and fieldfares gobbling berries in the bushes. Dawn and dusk bring spectacular skies and huge, noisy packs of geese on the wing.

Map OS Explorer 250/251
Start Ship Hotel, Brancaster, PE31 8AP; OS ref TF 773439; Coasthopper bus (coasthopper.co.uk); on A149 Hunstanton to Wells-next-the-Sea
The walk Down lane opposite Ship Hotel towards sea; right on Norfolk Coast path to Burnham Overy Staithe
How hard is it? 6 miles. Flat seawall and marsh paths. Wrap up warm, and don’t forget binoculars!
Eat en route Ship Hotel, Brancaster (01485 210333); The Hero, Burnham Overy Staithe (01328 738334)

9. Ely & Little Thetford, Cambs
The pride and joy of this walk is the majestic bulk of Ely Cathedral, riding the level Fenland landscape like a fabulous ship in a flat calm sea. On the outward leg, south down the slow-flowing Great Ouse, the cathedral stands behind you, a compelling presence urging you to turn round and stare. The fen landscape hereabouts wheels in a great disc of peat black and corn green. Returning towards Ely you are beckoned home by the cathedral’s tall towers and the great lantern turret that straddles the building. Ely Cathedral is superb – it contains some absolutely wonderful carvings, including splendidly wild and wicked Green Men peeping out in unexpected places, great fun for children to spot.

Map OS Explorer 226
Start Ely station, CB7 4BS; OS ref TL 543794; beside A142
The walk South along Fen Rivers Way (west bank of Great Ouse) for 3¼ miles to confluence with River Cam. Right under Holt Fen railway bridge (531745); right up Holt Fen Drove to Little Thetford (533760). North by Thetford Catchwater, Grunty Fen Catchwater. Cross Braham Dock at Great Ouse (540773); Fen Rivers Way to Ely station; continue to Cathedral.
How hard is it? 9 miles including Cathedral. Flat riverbank and field paths
Eat en route Refectory Café (01353 660346) or Almonry Restaurant (01353 666360), Ely Cathedral

10. Manifold Valley, Staffs
The limestone dales of Staffordshire are often thought of as neighbouring Derbyshire’s poor relations, but here’s a superb round walk that shows you Staffordshire’s most enchanting face. Field paths take you through steep, stream-filled farming country, before dipping into the dramatic limestone cleft of the River Manifold, a thickly wooded canyon with crags of naked rock. The Leek & Manifold Light Railway once trundled through the gorge, and its track is now a popular cycleway. This cranky little rattler of a narrow-gauge railway ‘from nowhere to nowhere’ never made a penny in its brief and inglorious lifetime (1904-1934), but passengers loved the superb scenery it ran through, the deep tree-hung Manifold dale. You follow the Leek & Manifold’s trackbed all the way back to Wetton Mill and its welcoming tearoom.

Map OS Explorer OL24
Start Wetton Mill car park, near Wetton, DE6 2AG; OS ref SW 095561
The walk (theaa.com/walks) Bridleway west by Waterslacks; footpath by Hoo Brook (086556) to Butterton. Village road, then path north to cross B5053 (075579). North for 400m; left (076583) to Warslow. School Lane (087585), then field path to Manifold Way near Ecton Bridge (091579). Follow it south for 1¼ miles to Wetton Mill.
How hard is it? 5½ miles. Muddy footpaths, some steepish; flat and firm underfoot on Manifold Way
Eat en route Wetton Mill Tearoom (01298 84838; weekends only in winter); Greyhound Inn, Warslow (01298 687017)

11. Hardwick, Derbys
‘Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall’ was built in the 1590s by the formidable Elizabeth Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury, a woman of iron will and ambition. There are great views to the Hall and its ruinous predecessor as you walk this parkland round through cleverly landscaped woods and valleys. Great avenues of trees, ponds alive with wildfowl, and many viewpoints over the twin houses.

Map OS Explorer 269
Start Hardwick Park Centre, near Mansfield, S44 5QJ; SK 454640; between Jcts 28 and 29, M1
The walk (nationaltrust.org.uk/walks) From Centre cross footbridge; on between ponds to pass between two Hardwick Halls (462637); follow Lady Spencer’s Walk, bearing left in Lady Spencer’s Wood to cross Hardwick Park Farm track (470637). Ahead through Park Piece Wood; cross drive (469646); on into Lodge Plantation. Bear left to blue gate (461645); go through, downhill to cross drive (458642); ahead to ponds and Centre.
How hard is it? 3½ miles. Parkland and woodland paths; an easy stroll
Eat en route Hardwick Inn, Hardwick Park (01246 850245)

12. Flamborough Head, East Yorks
The poignant memorial at Flamborough’s crossroads, to a crew of fisherman who drowned trying to help their fellow villagers, demonstrates the dangers of fishing off this cliff-encircled, tide-ripped promontory, and once out on those tremendous chalk ramparts you can fully appreciate the power of winter’s winds and tides. This is a walk full of drama and spectacle – seabirds wheeling far below, crash of waves against the cliffs, and the remarkable isolation of Flamborough, high on its remote nose of land.

Map OS Explorer 301
Start Crossroads by St Oswald’s Church, Flamborough, YO15 1PW; OS ref TA 225702; bus 510 (eyms.co.uk); B1255 from Bridlington
The walk South along West Street; footpath from Beacon Farm to south coast (226692). Anti-clockwise around promontory for 5½ miles, via Flamborough Head and North Landing, to North Cliff (224726); left inland to Flamborough.
How hard is it? 7½ miles. Field and cliff paths; no difficulties, but take care on the unguarded cliffs!
Eat en route Rose & Crown, Flamborough (01262-850455)

13. Stoodley Pike, West Yorks
From the old wool town of Hebden Bridge a steep path leads up and over the moors to the summit of Stoodley Pike with its landmark monument to Waterloo and the Crimean War. Pause to take in the fantastic moorland views, then descend to the friendly Top Brink Inn at Lumbutts, and on down to the Rochdale canal and a welcome flat towpath walk back to Hebden Bridge.

Map OS Explorer OL21
Start Hebden Bridge station, HX7 6JE; OS ref SD 995268; road – A646
The walk Left along river; in 500m, left across railway (991270); steeply up to radio mast (988268); left, then in 250m right, up to Pennine Bridleway (988262). Follow bridleway, then Pennine Way, to Stoodley Pike monument (973242). Pennine Way to Withens Gate (969231); Calderdale Way and lane to Lumbutts (956235); path down Lumbutts Clough to Rochdale Canal at Castle Street (951244); canal towpath to Hebden Bridge.
How hard is it? 9 miles. Moorland paths (some short, steep bits), then canal towpath. Not for bad weather.
Eat en route Top Brink Inn, Lumbutts (01706 812696)

14. Saltburn, Cleveland
A straightfoward, brisk walk from Cleveland’s favourite seaside resort of Saltburn-by-Sea, out east along the cliffs with a huge pavement of scars (sea-ground rock plates) exposed at low tide. Back over the hummock of Warsett Hill (great views all round), and back through the fields to the Ship Inn with its cosy fires and handy seaside location.

Map OS Explorer OL26
Start Ship Inn, Rosedale Lane, Saltburn-by-Sea, TS12 1HF; OS ref NZ 670216
The walk (nationaltrust.org.uk/walks) Follow waymarked Cleveland Way along the cliffs for 2 miles. Right (inland) at Guibal Fanhouse info board (699213); path across railway and over Warsett Hill. Recross railway (688215); path ahead across Brough House Farm track (682215); Ladgates (678214); Ship Inn.
How hard is it? 4½ miles. Cliff and field paths, easy gradients, a good 2-hour round walk
Eat en route Ship Inn (01287 622361); Virgo’s Café-Bistro, Dundas Street (01287 624031)

15. Causey Arch and Beamish, County Durham
Quiet paths through woods and fields take you through the North Durham countryside (Beamish Open Air Museum is just down the road). At the walk’s end, the Causey Arch is the oldest railway bridge in the world, its parent railway (originally a horse-drawn coal tramway) the oldest of its kind, too. Now the steam-powered Tanfield Railway (tanfieldrailway.co.uk) runs here – Sunday is the best day to do this walk if you want to see the trains.

Map OS Explorer 308
Start Causey Arch car park, Causey, NE16 5EG; OS ref NZ 205561; opposite Beamish Park Hotel, off A6076 Stanley-Sunniside
The walk (theaa.com/walks) Cross A6076, then Beamishburn Road (207561, ‘Beamish Hall’); Coppy Lane footpath to road opposite Beamish Hall (212550). Right; in 400m, left (208548) through picnic area. Right on Great North Forest Trail (208546) across Beamishburn Road (204546) and A6076 (201547) to road (195546); right to East Tanfield station (193549). Right beside Tanfield Railway to Causey Arch (201559) and car park.
How hard is it? 4 miles. Field paths, woodland tracks
Eat en route Causey Arch Inn (01207 233925)

16. Loweswater, Cumbria
Loweswater makes a perfect circuit for a winter’s afternoon, under the rumpled flank of Burnbank Fell and through beautiful Holme Wood, before taking the track to Maggie’s Bridge. Great views here, back to the high shoulder of Carling Knott, before reaching the road and decision time – back to the car, or a sidetrack to the warm and welcoming Kirkstile Inn? Hmmm …

Map OS Explorer OL4
Start Car pull-in at Waterend, NW Loweswater, CA13 0SU; OS ref NY 118225; on Mockerkin-Loweswater road (off A5086 Cockermouth-Cleator Moor)
The walk A simple anti-clockwise circuit of the lake via Hudson Place (115222), Holme Wood and Watergate Farm (127211), Maggie’s Bridge (134210) to road (138211). Right for 300m; right again (140211) to Kirkstile Inn (141209). Return to Mockerkin road; left along it to car park.
How hard is it? 4¼ miles (3¾ miles without Kirkstile Inn detour). Level and easy underfoot; can be very squashy after rain
Eat en route Kirkstile Inn, Church Bridge, Loweswater (01900 85219)

17. Cardurnock, Cumbria
Once you have walked down the short green lane from Cardurnock, a remote hamlet at the edge of the Solway Firth, there’s no set path. Just pick your way along the green apron of Cardurnock Flatts, the creek-cut fringe of saltmarsh, or wander the vast firm sands under gigantic bird-haunted skies, looking north across the enormous estuary to the Scottish hills, south to the 3,000-ft hump of Skiddaw twenty miles off in northern Lakeland.

Map OS Explorer 314
Start Park near phone box in Cardurnock, CA7 5AQ; OS ref NY 172588; M6 Jct 44, Carlise Western Bypass, B5307 to Kirkbride; Angerton, Whitrigg, Anthorn, Cardurnock
The walk Down the green lane by the phone box to the shore; then choose any direction and enjoy strolling the sands
How hard is it? As many miles as you like! Green lane; then flat, firm sand underfoot
Eat nearby King’s Arms, Bowness-on-Solway CA7 5AF (01697 351426) – 4½ miles NE of walk

18. Marcross & St Donat’s, S. Glamorgan, Wales
Marcross lies just inland of the Bristol Channel’s carefully-preserved Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Reach the cliffs by way of St Donat’s Castle, a splendid medieval fortress. Down on the shore, bear left to beautiful little Tresilian Bay – chuck a pebble across the natural rock arch inside Reynard’s Cave here (low tide only!), and you’ll be wed before the year’s end. Return along the cliffs to the twin lighthouses at Nash Point, then inland to the Horseshoe Inn.

Map OS Explorer 151
Start Horseshoe Inn, Marcross, CF61 1ZG; OS ref SS 924693; 1 mile west of St Donat’s, off B4265 near Llantwit Major
The walk From Marcross (922691), follow Valeways Millennium Heritage Trail to St Donat’s Castle (934681), road (937685) and coast (941682 to 940679). Left for ½ mile to Tresilian Bay (947677) and Reynard’s Cave (just west of beach – see below). Back along cliffs for 2¼ miles to Nash Point (916683); inland to Marcross.
How hard is it? 5½ miles. Field and cliff paths. Reynard’s Cave, low tide only (easytide.ukho.gov.uk)
Eat en route Horseshoe Inn (01656 890568)

19. Aberlady Bay, East Lothian, Scotland
If you like wild geese, you’ll love Aberlady Bay. Some 20,000 or more pinkfooted geese spend the early part of the winter here, and their massed flight (inland at dawn, seaward at dusk) is a great wildlife spectacle. Walk north beside the wind-whipped Firth of Forth, with the shark-fin peak of North Berwick Law ahead; then return from rocky Gullane Point by dune paths. Braw, brisk, bracing!

Map OS Explorer 351
Start Aberlady Nature Reserve car park, Aberlady, EH32 0PY; OS ref NT 471805; bus X24, 124 (Edinburgh-North Berwick); on A198, just east of Aberlady
The walk Cross wooden footbridge; north (1¾ miles) to Gullane Point (462830). South along track, parallel to shore, golf course on left. In ¾ mile fork right (466817) to Marl Loch; shore path (468809) to car park.
How hard is it? 4 miles. Shore paths (can be marshy); dune paths and tracks. Don’t forget the binoculars! Beware flying golf balls.
Eat nearby Old Aberlady Inn (01875 870503), on A198 in Aberlady, ½ mile from start

20. Tollymore Forest Park, Mourne Mts, Co Down, N Ireland
If you’ve no taste or time or daylight to tackle the Mourne Mountains proper, here’s a great network of paths at the northern feet of the mountains – a stroll by the river through the 18th-century Gothic folly of The Hermitage, the forest paths and excellent Mourne views of the longer Mountain Trail, and the Drinns Trail with its Curraghard viewpoint over sea and mountains.

Map OSNI 1:25,000 Activity Map ‘The Mournes’; downloadable ‘Forest Trails’ map at walkni.com
Start Tollymore Forest Park Lower Car Park, Newcastle, Co Down; OSNI ref J 344326; signposted on B180 between Bryansford and Newcastle
The walk You can compose your own round walk using the trails; Mountain Trail intersects with River Trail at Parnell’s Bridge, Hore’s Bridge and Old Bridge. Drinns Trail is a circular extension of Mountain Trail
How hard is it? River Trail (mostly level) 3¼ miles, Drinns Trail (a couple of climbs) 3 miles, Mountain Trail (gentle inclines) 5½ miles. Well-surfaced and waymarked tracks
Eat nearby Villa Vinci, Main St, Newcastle (028 4372 3080)

 Posted by at 12:55

  One Response to “Times Weekend – Christmas Walks 2012”

  1. […] from John Morgan: Tried the Cardurnock walk yesterday to see Solway Firth and the green lane was a “sea of mud” and gave up […]

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.