Northern New Year’s Day Walks

Holly Eliza Temple

The announcement of further restrictions during Christmas brought a wave of disappointment over the nation, scuppering millions of festive plans, carefully orchestrated shopping lists, travel arrangements and more. With many of us having a smaller Christmas than intended, some form of respite has never felt more needed. Luckily, the beauty of the Northern countryside has no plans to be ripped from under us, and what better way to say good riddance to 2020 and welcome the New Year, than by taking in the views of nature accessible throughout Yorkshire, Lancashire, Manchester and Cheshire.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
The Yorkshire Dales stretches a huge 841 square miles, known for its range of distinctive landscapes, diverse wildlife and large areas of farmland. No matter where you are travelling from, you can find a list of car parks here, but much of the park can also be reached by train, bus or bike. Why not explore the wealth of natural beauty within the landscape? Like Janet’s Foss, a National Trust-owned waterfall in Malham with a magical history, or Yordas Cave, carved by a glacier in the valley of Kingsdale. There are hundreds more sites to be discovered, from woodland to mountains, villages to gardens.

Speke Hall, Garden and Estate
A Tudor mansion with views over the River Mersey, Speke Hall is surrounded by beautifully maintained gardens and woodland. Looked after by the National Trust, you can explore how the Trust are conserving the diverse nature in the gardens, or stroll along the pathways through the Clough woodland.  Following the Bund path will give you views over the River Mersey, and a chance to breathe in the sea air. You can download a map of the grounds here from the National Trust, which marks out popular walking routes around the hall.

Peak District National Park
The first area to be named a National Park in 1951, the Peak District offers a wealth of history to be explored. Stretching from Macclesfield to Matlock, Holmfirth to Hartington, you can park at any of the 45 car parks across the Park, and also reach the area by train or Derbyshire buses. There are four visitors centres located in Bakewell, Castleton, Edale and Upper Derwent, where you can find information on walking routes, maps and guides around the area. The Peak District’s website advertises a number of activities and adventures, including a guided Chapels and Churches Heritage Walk taking place on New Year’s Day. If you’d prefer to make your own way around the breath-taking scenery, there are a number of popular trails to follow – for example the Trans Pennine Trail or the Peak District Boundary Walk.

Beacon Fell Country Park
Covering over 270 acres of Lancashire, the Beacon Fell Country Park consists of diverse woodland, moorland and grassland. There are a number of routes allowing visitors to explore the nature-packed woodland, as well as the Beacon Fell summit, which stands 266 metres above sea level and offers views of Morecambe Bay. Start at the Bowland Visitor Centre to discover the Woodland Trail, or the Sculpture Trail which takes you past the range of sculptural works situated in the park.

Seven Acres Country Park
The name of this Country Park and Local Nature Reserve reflects the natural areas of water that historically added up to exactly ‘seven acres’ of the 79 acre park. The land is owned by Bolton Council and managed for wildlife conservation. Featuring woodland, marshland, ponds and wildflower meadows, a range of British wildlife can be seen when walking on any of the trails around the park from 15 entry points. Why not start with the Kingfisher Trail, a 14 mile route that stretches across Greater Manchester, allowing for short strolls or more challenging hikes. The Friends of 7 Acres can give more information on wildlife species, volunteering and activities, and have created a map of the nature reserve for visitors – a volunteer group providing a brilliant way to support local nature conservation. 

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