Take part in National Walking Month with your whole family: we round-up the best ten easy walking trails
From magical forest walks and mini-mountain climbs to wild waterfalls and smuggler’s trails, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite family-friendly walks, all between half and two-and-a-half miles long.
1. Calke Park, Derbyshire
Surrounding the grand Baroque mansion and walled gardens of Calke Abbey is a vast area of fragile parkland, much of which has been set aside as a National Nature Reserve. Leave the car at the National Trust house and delve into a landscape of grassland, ponds and wood pasture, home to dazzling dragonflies, grazing deer and The Old Man of Calke – a 1,200-year-old oak tree.
Distance: 1.6 miles
2. Conic Hill, Stirlingshire
This mini mountain in the southern limits of the Scottish Highlands offers a great challenge for families keen to get into the hills. Start in the lochside village of Balmaha and climb through towering Scots pines to Conic’s summit – the perfect spot for a well-earnt picnic overlooking beautiful Loch Lomond and its tree-topped islands.
3. Sutton Park, West Midlands
Located just six miles from the centre of Birmingham, Sutton Park’s 2,400 acres of oak and birch woodland, ponds and parkland offer parents a great opportunity to get the kids outdoors and into walking. Take an ID guide and look out for the delicate flutter of a holly blue butterfly or the unusual courtship of great crested grebes.
Distance: 1.6 miles
4. Ashdown Forest Pooh walks, Sussex
Park at Gills Lap in Ashdown Forest and follow in the footsteps of Christopher Robin on the Short Pooh Walk, past Roo’s Sandy Pit and The Enchanted Places. For those with energy to spare, venture a little further into the forest on the Long Pooh Walk and discover the North Pole.
Distance: 0.6-2 miles
5. The Rowan Trail, Greater London
Accessed by underground or by car, the Rowan Trail starts and ends near the old hamlet of Woodford Wells in north London. The trail was named after the rowan tree, which bears bright red berries throughout summer. Take a sketch book and see how many different tree leaves you can draw.
Distance: 1.2 miles
6. Bradfield Woods, Suffolk
The woods at Bradfield are cared for by Suffolk Wildlife Trust and offer a range of trails for little legs, from a 30-minute mini loop of the forest to a 2.5-hour trek through the entire reserve. Using the Green Oak Centre as your base, look out for butterflies, orchids and dormice drinking from blooms of summer honeysuckle.
Distance: 1-2 miles
7. The Elidir Trail, Powys
No matter what the season, this roller-coaster trail through the dense, mossy woodland of Waterfall Country in the Brecon Beacons National Park is an enchanting day out for kids and parents alike. Go in spring and summer and paddle in the river’s pools, or visit in autumn and winter as the trees turn gold, and explore the roaring Sgwd Gwladus waterfalls.
Distance: 2 miles
8. Stonebarrow Hill, Dorset
Download a map, activity sheet and audio guide and become a smuggler for the day on the Dorset coast. The 1.5-hour Smuggler’s Trail takes walkers through beautiful countryside from one story post to the next, each with its own image embedded in the wood for rubbings – don’t forget your crayons!
Distance: 1 mile
9. Folly Farm, Bristol
This 250-acre nature reserve just south of Bristol is a refuge for wildlife and a great place to get children excited about the outdoors. Look out for signs of badgers, identify wildflowers and relax with a picnic on Round Hill overlooking the placid waters of Chew Valley Lake.
Distance: 0.5-2 miles
10. Loch Garten, Highlands
There are lots of excellent walks in the Cairngorms National Park, but few can beat this short, family-friendly stroll through the Caledonian pine trees of Abernethy Forest. Get close to one of Britain’s most majestic birds at the Osprey Centre before exploring the shores of Loch Garten, home to bull finches, goldeneye ducks and mighty ant nests.
Distance: 2.3 miles