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The Collective recommends: wonderful winter walks close to some of the UK’s biggest cities

By Caitlin Parr

Design by Aimee Lee

Getting out for a walk is one of the best winter past-times. Not only does it give you the perfect excuse to get wrapped up warm with some hiking boots and a big scarf, it also gives you the opportunity to enjoy some of the UK’s most beautiful winter landscapes.

During the pandemic, and a host of local lockdowns, heading out for a walk is one of the best possible ways to get out and take some time for yourself. It is great for your mental health and wellbeing to escape into nature and be away from your room – which you now likely associate with online lectures, working from home or lockdown boredom as opposed to rest and relaxation.

This list covers some of the prettiest walks in the busiest parts of the UK. We all know that an escape to our most famous areas of natural beauty (like Snowdonia, the Lake District, the Cotswolds, the Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales) are often the first point of call for an adventure. However, with it being safer to stay local in our current climate, it is now a better time than ever to explore the local nature around you and your urban area.

  1. Belfast

Belfast Botanic Gardens

Near: Queen’s University Belfast

Transport: 6 minute walk from Queen’s University Belfast

Right in the centre of Belfast, the Belfast Botanic Gardens and park is one of the most beautiful examples of Victorian heritage. Established in 1828, the Botanical Gardens and public park are enjoyed by locals, tourists and students everyday.

Source: Belfast Live

  1. Birmingham

Cannon Hill Park Walk

Near: University of Birmingham

Transport: 5 minute drive or 30 minute bus journey from Edgbaston near University of Birmingham

Route Distance: 3.1 Miles (approx. 2 hours)

The Cannon Hill Park has several 5km walking and jogging routes for people to exercise and enjoy. This space is perfect to explore Birmingham’s greenspace or look after your wellbeing and fitness by taking a jog in a safe outdoor space. There are also lots of activities in the park too – including an arts centre, fishing lake, mini golf course, pedalo boats and tennis courts.

Source: Visit Birmingham

Edgbaston Reservoir and Summerfield Park

Near: The University of Law – Birmingham, Aston University, Birmingham City University

Transport: Variety of buses or under 10 minutes by car

Route Distance: 3.1 Miles (approx. 2 hours)

300 million gallons used to top up Birmingham’s canals that are used for fun, recreational, activities like rowing and sailing. This is a great day out for some exercise, stress release and time away from the bustling city.

Source: Walk Run Cycle

  1. Cardiff

Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech Walk, Brecon Beacons

Near: Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of South Wales, and all South Wales universities

Transport: 50 minutes by car or selection of University day trips

Route Distance: 3.5 Miles (approx. 2.5 hours)

This trail covers the Graig Llech Gorge and the Nant Llech valley in the Brecon Beacons. You will also get to see the highest waterfalls in South Wales, and world famous Welsh scenery. Many universities in South Wales run trips to the Brecon Beacons, and there are buses from the city centres that go there too. The drive is incredibly scenic too!

Source: Explore South Wales

  1. Exeter

Duryard and Belvidere Valley Park

Near: University of Exeter

Transport: Approx. 10 minute walk from the University of Exeter campus

Route Distance: 2.5 Miles (approx. 1 hour)

The circular Belvidere Meadows walk takes you from University of Exeter out to the Duryard and Belvidere Valley Park and Belvidere Meadows Nature Reserve.

Source: Visit Exeter

  1. Glasgow

Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

Near: University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde

Transport: 40 minute drive and day trips available from the city centre

Loch Lomond is one of the most beautiful areas in the UK and one of my favourite places. With The Trossachs National Park being one of the most scenic and beautiful areas to walk in Scotland and the UK, you cannot afford to miss the opportunity to visit whilst in/near Glasgow.

Source: Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Twitter

  1. London

London Parkland Walk

Near: University College London, University of London, and all other universities around The Regent’s Park area.

Transport: Near Crouch Hill Overground, Archway Underground Station and Highgate Underground Station

Route Distance: 2.5 Miles (approx. 1 hour)

London’s longest nature reserve is the perfect place to explore hundreds of species of plants, animals and birds. There are also lots of cafes nearby for refreshments or the quintessential afternoon tea. There are also lots of opportunities to volunteer to maintain and conserve the reserve!

Source: Perceptive Travel

  1. Manchester and Leeds

The South Pennine Water Trail

Near: University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Salford, University of Leeds, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds Beckett University

Transport: 30 minute drive from Manchester and 40 minute drive from Leeds

Route Distance: 5 Miles (approx. 43 hours)

Set just outside of both Manchester and Leeds city centres you can expect stunning views of the Pennines, Ealees Valley, Hollingworth Lake and Littleborough whilst following the Rochdale Canal.

Source: Manchester’s Finest

  1. Newcastle

Jesmond Dene to the Tyne Circular Walk

Near: Newcastle University, Northumbria University

Transport: 30 minute walk or 5 minute drive from Newcastle University, or 15 minute bus journey from Haymarket St Mary’s Place to Cradlewell

Route Distance: 2.2 Miles (approx. 1 hour)

This circular route up the OuseBurn to Jesmond Dene Falls.

Source: The Independent

North Shields to Longsands Walk

Near: Newcastle University, Northumbria University

Transport: Under 15 minute drive from Newcastle University; 40 minute bus journey from Haymarket St Mary’s Place; or, approx. 30 minute train journey from Monument Underground Station

Route Distance: 2 Miles (approx. 40 minutes)

Tyneside’s coastal walk has a lot to offer for a day out of the city. Including Northumberland Park, an aquarium, water park and all of the classic British seaside joys. Feeling the sea breeze is one of the best ways to escape and look after your wellbeing. And, as the coast is just over 10 minutes from the city centre this is one of the easiest and most beautiful getaways for the day.

Source: Northumbrian Water

Each of these walks will create a perfect escape for the afternoon from university or work – which is especially important now that we are spending more time inside than ever.

No city in the UK is ever too far from stunning rural areas or green spaces. These walks are just some starting off suggestions – but you will be able to find hundreds more from a local tourist information centre, OS Maps, or online.

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