What makes a great day out? A hearty walk followed by a pub lunch and great beer beside a roaring fire. If the sun’s out and the skies are blue, then perfect. But if it’s wet and windy, who cares so long as you can blow the cobwebs away and keep dry.
For woods and waterfalls – Aysgarth Falls, 1.5 miles
Aysgarth Falls in Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales, is guaranteed to take your breath away. It’s a great place to while away a few hours with dramatic waterfalls set over three levels. But don’t be too lazy because the steep climb to the Lower Falls gives you amazing views looking up the River Ure. Walk through St Joseph’s Woods and you may even spot a roe deer. Let your inner Robin Hood continue to come forth as you espy Castle Bolton, a medieval castle built in 1399, looming in the distance.
For Sunday lunch – Sennen Cove, 3 miles
Sennen Cove (otherwise called Whitesands) is one of north Cornwall’s most westerly beaches and a long crescent of sand backed by grassy cliffs. The walk to Land’s End gives you spectacular views of rugged cliffs, crashing waves and – blistering barnacles – even a ship wreck! If you soldier on with the six mile circular walk, indulge in a well-earned lunch at the Old Success Inn (especially if there for the Sunday Carvery). It’s a lively – and dog friendly – 17th-century former fisherman’s inn overlooking the beach.
For culture vultures – Marlow to Cookham, 5.5 miles
If you’re a literature lover, grab a book of Shelley’s poetry and catch the train to Marlow, where he once lived and for a stroll along one of the most beautiful stretches of the Thames Valley – full of The Wind in The Willows scenery. Let your afternoon of culture end in Cookham with a visit to the Victorian Methodist Chapel for an exhibition of Stanley Spencer’s works.
For remoteness – Scarista Beach, 3 miles
Scarista is a deserted, windswept and unspoilt beach with golden sand on the Isle of Harris in the Hebrides. Feel like an eight year old boy again, poking around interesting bits of driftwood and even jellyfish washed ashore by the Atlantic. You may feel like a castaway here but gaze over to the island of Taransay; we guarantee you won’t spot Man Friday as it’s been uninhabited since 1974. Book yourself in to Scarista House, a handsome Georgian manse house facing the beach with just five bedrooms and open fires. There’s no TV but console yourself instead in the library.
For sunsets – East Sussex, As short or as long as you want
Walk along the seafront for stunning views to Beachy Head or just stroll along boho and buzzy Norman Road. Quirky and arty St Leonard’s Burton area is full of architectural grandeur, with many galleries and privately owned shops selling vintage clothes, homeware and dog treats. Start your day by stoking up with breakfast at The Love Café but if you can occupy yourself by wandering until late (and let’s face it, there’s plenty to do), then the winter sunsets are just incredible.
What to wear/take?
If you’re on a long walk, wear a good waterproof jacket that’s wind-proof and breathable. Wearing layers will keep you warmer than a thick jumper – and remember to take a hat and gloves.
Sympatex is a 100% waterproof and wind-proof membrane on shoes that allows you to enjoy the outdoors at its best, no matter how much it’s raining. Because it’s breathable too, it absorbs the moisture from the feet and transports it to the outside by evaporation. Make sure soles have grip in case of frost on the ground.
Finally, don’t forget a hip flask. Oh, and borrow a dog if you don’t already have one.