White Cliffs of Dover

Kent

Factfile

Distance:
4 miles

Difficulty:
Easy-to-moderate

There are few more spectacular natural locations in the UK than the white cliffs of Dover – they have represented home for generations of sailors throughout Britain’s rich maritime history and are instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever been on a day trip to Calais and back. Although the chalk and limestone cliffs are gradually eroding, they make for a glorious autumn walk, as long as you don’t stray too close to the edge.

Birdwatchers are especially well catered-for, with ravens and peregrine falcons relatively easy to spot along with rarer birds like wrynecks and hornet robberflies. Beginning at the “Gateway to the White Cliffs” visitor centre, head east along the cliffs, keeping the sea on your right-hand side until you reach the South Foreland lighthouse, the trail’s turning point. Try to visit in the summer and autumn when the grass and exposed chalk are not wet and slippery underfoot, and look out for the ruins of the Convict and Military Prison in addition to the Roman lighthouse, Pharos. Most restaurants are located in the town of Dover itself if you’re peckish, but the visitor centre does have a café to stave off hunger until you can find something more substantial.

Fife Coastal Path

Fife

Factfile

Distance:
117 miles (shorter routes of variable distance available)

Difficulty:
Easy-to-difficult depending on the route

Parking:
Multiple car parks at towns and points of interest along the path

Created in 2002, the Fife Coastal Path is a varied and beautiful stretch of coastline that runs for 117 miles along the east coast of Scotland, offering walkers and hikers a range of different paths and routes that vary in difficulty and length. Popular routes include Lower Largo to Pitween, which is a more demanding walk, and the gentler North Queensferry to Burntisland.

One of the great strengths of the path is the amount of ground it covers, because multiple areas of interest for walkers are covered somewhere along the line. Dolphins, seals, whales and various flora and fauna are common sights, as are remnants of Fife’s military history in the form of Newark Castle and St. Andrew’s Castle. Fishing villages, windmills, the Forth Bridge and beaches are also popular attractions for explorers, who should also attempt to make time to see the Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve and the Harbourmaster’s House in Dysart. Those who want to walk the whole stretch will find plenty of places to stay and eat in along the coast.

Lizard Point

Cornwall

Factfile

Distance:
1 mile

Difficulty:
Easy

Parking:
Lizard Point car park

As the southernmost point of England (despite what Land’s End would have you believe), Lizard Point gets its fair share of tourists and sightseers, so it’s fortunate that it also happens to be an area of outstanding natural beauty. Hikers are certainly not going to be disappointed by the views out over the sea that Lizard Point offers – the Cornish sea and coast is notoriously rugged and often stunning, especially in the summer, with basking sharks sometimes visible hunting plankton in the bay. Amateur botany enthusiasts will delight in the gorgeous wildflowers and Cornish heath (which doesn’t grow anywhere else in the UK) that cover the paths and valley fields.

Many routes begin at the National Trust car park next to the Lizard lighthouse, though you can start at Kynance Cove and make time to visit the Witchball in Lizard village to experience some locally-brewed Cornish ale and a hearty meal before heading back. The trail does boast some moderately difficult-to-negotiate parts, including stiles and steps, so care should be taken regardless of the season and weather. 

Erddig Hall

Clwyd

Factfile

Distance:
1 mile

Difficulty:
Easy

Parking:
Erddig House car park

Erddig Hall in Wrexham would just be another National Trust property – beautiful, but unremarkable – if it wasn’t for the extraordinarily well-preserved 18th-century walled gardens and park attached to it. Designed by the landscape gardener William Eames, it features a number of points of interest to stop by on an exploration of the grounds. The cup and saucer, for instance, is a feature designed to prevent the erosion of the stream by having water flow over a central weir and exit through a tunnel placed in the middle.

Ernest Jones and Lucy Hitchman worked at Erddig Hall during the First World War and fell in love, but decided to hide their relationship from other servants, instead taking secret romantic walks in the grounds. Follow their route by starting at the dovecote, heading towards the cup and saucer, before following the Black Brook through the kissing gates. Climb the path back to the main driveway, past the field with the carriage driving obstacles and the remains of the brick-built cistern, to return to the house. This is a relatively easy route, with refreshments available at the visitors’ restaurant. 

Malham Tarn & Village

Yorkshire

Factfile

Distance:
3 miles

Difficulty:
Easy

Parking:
Malham village car park

The Yorkshire Dales are home to Malham Tarn, a glacial lake that is the highest in the UK (at 377 metres above sea level). The surrounding countryside is perfect for walks of varying intensity, with a range of different sights to see along the way. Some prefer to take in the beauty of the lake, which plays host to many species of bird such as redshanks and oystercatchers, as well as white-clawed crayfish. Others head from the village through woodland to Janet’s Foss waterfall, a popular wishing spot said to be the home to Janet, queen of the fairies.

The terrain is relatively even, though there are some steep sections which don’t last particularly long. Rain and mud can make it potentially treacherous underfoot, but as long as proper footwear is worn then a walk of any length should be fairly manageable. Those in need of refreshment will find choices limited, but the Old Barn Café and the Buck Inn should keep them going until they can find something more substantial. 

Polesden Lacey

Surrey

Factfile

Distance:
4.2 miles

Difficulty:
Moderate

Parking:
Polesden Lacey main house car park

Located in Great Bookham in Surrey, the Polesden Lacey estate is part of the North Downs, and now owned and operated by the National Trust. The estate was developed by its last private owner, Margaret Greville, who left it to the Trust upon her death in 1942. The grounds range in style from sculpted and manicured lawns and hedges to open countryside bordering nearby Bocketts Farm where farmers’ sheep graze in the fields.

Walking routes to and from the house tend to be clearly signposted and circle around to keep visitors on the beaten track, with expansive lawns on the building’s south side offering particularly spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. The country footpaths, though, can be a little more confusing and pick up a lot of mud during the winter, so try and visit during the summer as the heavy foliage overhead provides a lot of shade as you walk. Make sure you visit the tearooms, newly revamped and perfect for a summer cream tea.