Muddy’s best winter walks
Climbing the walls after the turkey fest? It's time for walkies! Here's where I'll be running for the hills this Boxing Day and beyond.
You know the festive drill – you’ve eaten your bodyweight in turkey, nailed an entire box of Quality Street, drunk approximately 8,000 units of wine, sherry, Champagne and Baileys and have been slumped on the sofa for three days straight. In the immortal words of George Michael (RIP), let’s go outside – ideally for a long, bracing walk around one of Bucks or Oxon’s prettiest locales. The Muddy team have all picked their favourite strolls for Boxing Day and beyond, all with a pitstop close by. Grab your wellies and let’s go!
Cookham and Cock Marsh Walk
If you’re up for a 4-mile strut, head over to Cookham, The route is in full here, but basically park in the National Trust car park at Cookham Moor, takes into Cookham village, along the Thames, up to Winter Hill, past the burial mounds, along a wooden boardwalk up to Cock Marsh where you can see Cliveden. It can be wet and muddy at this time of year, and is steep in places. But after 2 hours of countryside stomping, you’ll have definitely worked up an appetite for a pub lunch. You’re spoilt for choice in the Cookham: Gastropub The White Oak; Bel & the Dragon and The Old Swan Uppers.
Cliveden National Trust, Taplow
There’s a mahoosive 376 acres to explore, but you can do as little or as much as you like. Stroll through the formal gardens, stomp through the woodland and hang out with Duke of Sutherland and, if you’re super-keen, hike down to the river. Just brace yourself for the uphill climb. Ready for some top pub grub? The Oak & Saw is just a few miles away in the village of Taplow (home to the late Terry Wogan). Cosy vibes, pub classics (the steaks and roasts are legendary) and a village green view. There, there… that’s better.
The Long Walk and Copper Horse
Enter Windsor Great Park through Cambridge Gate and walk along the formal avenue of the Long Walk up to the iconic Copper Horse on Snow Hill. Take in the impressive views of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, and watch out for the free range deer. Once you have taken in enough fresh air and scenery, head to The Boatman (Windsor’s only riverside pub) or the Bel and the Dragon on Thames Street.
Shottesbrook Parkland, White Waltham
For the super-keen there is a 6-mile circular stomp, taking you through Shottesbrook parkland, that will test your physical and mental stamina post NYE. The good news (ahem), you can bail out and take a number of short cuts to hasten your entrance to The Beehive. A fab gastropub, sink into the leather chairs and enjoy the great food.
If you are really struggling, pop down to the river’s edge for a gentle stroll around Bray Lake (good for pushchairs). For the more adventurous, there are some lovely looping walks around Bray, Maidenhead and Windsor that take your along the Thames path, up to Bray Lock and beyond. Then hot foot it to The Crown – a 16th century low-beamed inn serving wonderful British food (no surprises there given that Heston Blumenthal is the owner) beside an open fire.
Pack your wellies, peeps, because the circular walks around the Royal Oak in Yattendon tend to be a bit muddy. There’s a family friendly loop that starts at the Village Hall and brings you out at the back of St Paul and St Peter’s church. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous (or slightly less hungover) there is a circular walk that takes you over to Frilsham and through the woodland, before bringing you back to the roaring fire, cosy loveliness and brand spanking new Orangery at The Royal Oak. Children and dogs are welcome.
Sonning Thames Path
Stroll around the village, stalk George Clooney, take in the picturesque St Andrew’s church (PM Theresa May’s a regular) and Thames towpath, before taking up residency in The Bull in Sonning. A pretty 16th Century inn near the river, this old-fashioned pub has cosy alcoves, leather chairs and sofas, low ceilings and roaring fires. Expect a proper pub menu with a modern twist.
Stanford Dingley and The Pang Valley
There’s a serious amount of walking going on in these parts, with a five-mile circular route that would take whopping 3.5 hours to complete, taking you along the River Pang through woodland down to the Pot Kiln in Frilsham. You then loop back and down a byway that drops back into the village of Stanford Dingley past two pubs, The Bull and The Old Boot. At The Old Boot you’ll find roaring fires, sleeping dogs and an enormous garden if the walking has completely knackered the kids and animals. There are plenty of shorter strolls if you’re needing that glass of red in less than hour.