Five of the best… British walks
15th July, 2011
Make friends, exercise and enjoy Britain’s natural beauty while you walk, says Noah Lee
According to the British Heart Foundation, a daily 30-minute walk is enough to keep your heart healthy and boost your muscle tone. What’s more, an extra twenty or so minutes will burn off around half a stone of body fat per year, along with the same number of calories as jogging. Taking a stroll also gives your calf muscles and quads a good workout, resulting in toned thighs and a P Middy style posterior without having to go to extreme lengths. But walking isn’t just about fitness; it’s about getting out and about in the fresh air and getting a better look at Britain’s lovely landscapes too. It’s also great for wildlife spotting with foxes, falcons and red deer all easily spotted while out and about on two feet. Whether strolling along the Southbank or hiking up the majestic mountains of Wales: the UK has plenty for walkers.
The South Bank, London
A circular walkway centred around Lambeth and Waterloo, the South Bank is a beautifully scenic route that takes in the architecture running along the Thames. The route incorporates plenty of landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. Start at Westminster Bridge and head east towards Waterloo Bridge taking in the South Bank lion, the Golden Jubilee Bridges and the Royal Festival Hall on route. After a detour past Gabriel’s Wharf, the riverside path resumes and runs past Blackfriars Bridge and Sea Containers House, home of British Customs and Excise.
Nearest train station: Waterloo
Peaks of the Brecon Beacons
A walk along the high peaks of the Brecon Beacons offers stunning views and breathtaking scenery. Start at the Cwmgwdi car park and follow the main road until you come to the bridge. Cross the bridge, then follow the river to the point where the trail then beings to climb steeply up the beautiful Cwm Llwch valley. The walk is 11 miles on a rough path, so good boots are recommended. The walk takes in all four majestic peaks of the Brecon Beacons and towards the end of the trail, the path ascends to the summit of Pen y Fan - at 886m, the highest peak in the Beacons national park.
Nearest public transport: See Beacons Bus service
Charley and the Oaks. Leicestershire
The Charley and the Oaks route is a peaceful stroll through the foothills and woodlands of close to the Leicestershire towns of Shepville and Coalville. The 7.3km walk begins next to the Blackbrook Reservoir from where you head south into Drybrook Wood. From the wood, the track emerges onto a road that leads to Mount St Bernard Abbey. Next, take the trail that leads to Warrens Hill Reserve where you’ll discover a bountiful wildlife area with lots of fauna and rare plants. The reserve is home to a wide range of tree species, including hazel, sycamore, sweet chestnut, oak and wych elm. During the summer months the ground is covered with colourful wildflowers. Heading away from the reserve, the trail leads back to the top of Blackbrook Reservoir.
Nearest public transport: A local bus service runs to nearby Whitwick but otherwise connections are sadly lacking
New Forest, Hampshire
A walk in the northwest of the New Forest is great for naturalists and one of the best begins at the large car park at Abbots Well. The trail goes up Hampton Ridge and down into Pitts Woods. Through Pitts Woods you follow the stream which heads across heathland to a gravel track leading to Latchmore Brook. From Latchmore Brook the gravel track leads back to Abbots Well. The walk includes a mixture of ancient woodland and open moorland, and is home to some of the UK’s most rarely seen fauna, including the endangered New Forest cricket. Bird song fills the air during the warmer months, and you can count on seeing the ponies.
Nearest train stations: Ashurst, Brockenhurst and Sway
Bells of Stepney, Lambeth
Starting on the road that give its name to the song ‘The Lambeth Walk’, head through Lambeth village and past the well-known Old and New Vic Theatres, on the way towards the Thames. Joining the river by the National Theatre, you can then follow the walkway round to the London Eye before heading back into Lambeth. The route passes close to St Dunstan’s Church, Stepping Stones Farm and Stepney Garden. With a maximum walking time of 45 minutes, it’s an easy one to do with the family.
Nearest train station: Waterloo
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