The Christmas holidays can pass in a sherry-fuelled fug in front of the television, but the Ramblers Festival of Winter Walks is a perfect antidote says Sarah Freeman.
The Ramblers Festival of Winter Walks returns this month. Launched as a way of getting people into the great outdoors, the organisation hopes that the free programme of events might also prompt some healthy New Year’s resolutions.
Ramblers chief executive Vanessa Griffiths, said: “Winter is a wonderful time to get outdoors and enjoy your surroundings in the fresh air, but it can drop to the bottom of the list among all the competing demands of the holidays. A foray out into the cold, fresh air is the perfect winter mood enhancer. And what starts out as a one-off Christmas or New Year walk could lead to life-long friendships and a serious walking habit.”
Here’s our pick of some of the best in Yorkshire.
Santa Hat Saunter
For those who have wrapped their presents, prepped the turkey and who feel like a breath of fresh air the Take a Hike Rambler Group may have just the thing. Bring your Santa hat (a plain woolly hat will do) and join the group for a circular walk from Otley Chevin via Bramhope and East Carlton. If the weather is kind, the walk boasts great views across Wharfedale and for your efforts the reward comes in the shape of a late lunch in the The Royalty pub.
When: Sunday, Decemeber 24, 9.30am.
Where to meet: The public car park opposite The Royalty pub, Otley Chevin, LS21 3DG.
How long: Eight miles at a leisurely pace.
Bah Humbug Amble
It’s not as miserly as the name might suggest. However, while much of the rest of the country might be sleeping off the Christmas excesses and refusing to emerge from under the duvet, the Huddersfield Ramblers will be putting their best foot forward and anyone else keen to escape the post Christmas lull is welcome to join them. The circular walk will begin from Armitage Bridge before heading off into some impressive Yorkshire countryside. Those joining the group don’t need to bring anything special, just walking boots, waterproofs and a packed lunch.
When: Boxing Day, 10am.
Where to meet: Mill Yard car park, Armitage Bridge, Huddersfield HD4 7NR.
How long: 10 miles, at a moderate pace
Walk off the Christmas turkey
East Keswick might just be a few miles from the centre of Leeds, but it feel like a world away. At the heart of the so-called golden triangle of Wetherby, Harrogate and Leeds, this idyllic Wharfedale village was mentioned in the Domesday Book and lies on a quiet country lane which meanders between Collingham and Shadwell. This moderate walk, which will also take in Linton, is aimed at those with a good level of fitness. It may include some steep paths and open country, and the pace is likely to be brisk. Walking boots and warm, waterproof clothing are essential.
When: Boxing Day, 11am
Where to meet: The Old Star pub, Main Street, East Keswick, LS17 9EJ.
How long: Eight miles, at a moderate pace.
Into the woods
Enjoy a post-Christmas woodland wander with the York Ramblers. The route heads into the expansive Yearlsey Woods in the Howardian Hills. The woods, located just a mile to the east of the Foss Walk long distance trail, are quite hilly on the north western side. There’s also good wide footpaths leading to a large picturesque pond and a couple of smaller ponds. Look out for a variety of woodland birds as you make your way along the paths.
When: Wednesday, December 27, 10am.
Where to meet: Gilling East, outside the Feversham Arms, Helmsley YO62 4JG.
How long: 9 miles, at a moderate pace.
Escape to the country
While Yorkshire boasts some well-trod trails from the Pennine Way to the Coast to Coast route, East Yorkshire remains an undiscovered gem for many. This post-Christmas riverside and countryside walk begins in the pretty town of Howden and as spokesman for the Howden & Goole Ramblers, says: “Our walks are in parts of the area not so well-known enabling us to explore some possibly unfamiliar territory.” The circular route follows the banks of the River Ouse to Asselby, over arable fields and back to Howden. Car-sharing is encouraged.
When: Friday, December 29, 10am
Where to meet: Ashes Playing Fields car park, off Treeton Road, Howden, DN14 7DN.
How long: 8 miles, at a moderate pace
See out the old
End the year with a walk around Oakwell Country Park, in the company of the Huddersfield Ramblers. The Hall itself is now a museum, but it is set in more than 100 acres of country park, which also boasts a visitor centre, gift shop, nature trail, picnic sites and playground. Bring a packed lunch.
When: New Year’s Eve, 10am
Where to meet: Oakwell Hall Country Park (lower car park by the information centre), Nutter Lane, Birstall BD19 4LL
How long: 10 miles, at a moderate pace.
A slice of history
For a walk with a difference this New Year, head out after dark with the Bradford Ramblers for a night-time stroll between Bradford and Halifax, which along the way will take in the industrial heritage of these cities whose fortunes were built on the textile trade. There will be an after-walk drink and a torch may be useful.
When: January 4, 7pm
Where to meet: Junction of Swalesmoor Road and the Queensbury Halifax Road (A647), on the Bradford boundary at Catherine Slack, BD13 2NN.
How long: 4.5miles, at a moderate pace (estimated finish 9pm)
A bracing walk in Eskdale and through the striking winter landscapes of Danby Moor. Along the way you can see pretty much everything that makes the North York Moors National Park so special: moorland, woodland, farmland, miles of hedges and drystone walls, historic buildings. The perfect way to blow off the remaining cobwebs lingering from 2017 and put your best foot forward into 2018.
When: January 7, 8.45am
Where to meet: Nun’s Close car park in Richmond DL10 4UN.
How long: 9 miles, at a moderate pace.
All group walks during the Festival of Winter Walks are free to attend. For more details go to ramblers.org.uk