Beautiful new year walks in Aylesbury Vale and the Chilterns

Get into your stride and walk off that Christmas pudding at local National Trust estates and the stunning Chilterns countryside

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 10:33 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 10:36 am

If you feel like you've overindulged over the Christmas festivities, what better than a bracing new year walk in the fresh air in some of the beautiful areas of Aylesbury Vale and the Chilterns?

At the time of writing, many National Trust gardens and estates in Aylesbury Vale and the Chilterns are expecting to be open on New Year's Day - but do check individual properties' websites before setting off, in case this changes.

Stowe

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Spectacular views of the Chilterns at Ashridge. Picture: National Trust Images/John Miller

At Stowe, near Buckingham, you may be able to spot the early signs of snowdrops on a New Year walk.

Very soon there will be be carpets of white in the Elysian Fields, Sleeping Wood and Lamport Garden.

The scale and beauty of Stowe have attracted visitors for over 300 years, with fabulous views, winding paths, lakeside walks and temples creating a spectacular landscape that reflects the changing seasons.

The gardens at Stowe were created over a period of nearly 30 years, thanks to the skills of world-renowned gardeners and architects, including Capability Brown.

Parkland at Hughenden. (c) National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Over the decades, lakes were created by hand, mature trees planted and countless temples and monuments were built.

A visit today starts at the New Inn, a fusion of modern and restored 18th-century buildings where visitors of the past were also welcomed to Stowe.

A scenic walk from New Inn takes you into the gardens, whose sheer size and space are perfect for striding out.

At the moment, Stowe is open daily 10am-4pm (excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and visitors do not need to pre-book to visit.

Winter Light at Waddesdon. © Waddesdon, A Rothschild House & Gardens. Photo Chris Lacey

See www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe

Waddesdon

For a winter walk with a difference, the showstopping Winter Light Trail at Waddesdon, the Rothschild House & Gardens near Aylesbury, runs until January 23 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays in January).

For the first time, a brand new route lights up the formal parterre - the geometrical arrangement of ornamental flowerbeds at the south side of the manor.

Chalk stream and bridge at Hughenden. (c) National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Christmas preparations start 12 to 18 months in advance at Waddesdon, and once planning is complete it takes a team of 20 people four weeks to string hundreds of thousands of fairy lights, install 11 Winter Light features and hang 3.2km of festoon lighting around the grounds.

Please note, all visitors, including National Trust members, must book a day and arrival time for grounds admission, and separate tickets should be booked for shuttle buses and premium parking. Charges vary according to the date.

Last admission 7pm, last bus 9.30pm.

See www.nationaltrust.org.uk/waddesdon-manor/features/winter-light-at-waddesdon

Ashridge

The Ashridge Estate, near Tring, is the perfect place to stretch your legs and explore the countryside.

Snowdrops at Stowe. (c) National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Every season brings out a different aspect of the waymarked trails, and this winter there are two new trails to try.

The range of waymarked trails include the three-mile Ranger’s Ramble, which will take you through some quiet areas of the estate and past some of Ashridge’s finest veteran trees.

The eight-mile Wildlife Walk guides you around the northern part of the estate, focusing on the plants and trees as well as some of Ashridge’s endangered animals.

For those who want to go a bit further afield, a selection of self-led walks are available to download, including the Bridgewater Monument to Ivinghoe Beacon trail and the Bridgewater Monument to Pitstone Windmill circular walk.

Each trail gives clear directions for you to follow and extra information about the things you'll see on your way round.

The Ashridge Estate is open dawn to dusk all year round.

The Bridgewater Monument and visitor facilities are open from 10am to 3pm on New Year's Day.

See www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ashridge-estate/features/walking-at-ashridge-estate

Hughenden

Enjoy the stark landscapes and frosty vistas of the Chilterns in winter on one of the many picturesque walks through the parkland and woods surrounding Hughenden, near High Wycombe.

The energetic four-mile Boundary walk broadly follows the outer boundary of the Hughenden estate, allowing you to explore beautiful woodland, open parkland, farmland and a rare chalk stream.

Or you can wander up to D'Israeli’s monument for a spectacular view across to the Hughenden estate, on the Monument walk.

The German Forest walk takes you through the evergreen woods inspired by Disraeli's visit to the Northern Bohemian forests on the German/Czech border.

The leisurely Woodcock Wood follows a short loop around some typical Chiltern farmland and woodland on the estate.

And the Views of the Hughenden Manor estate walk is a 5.6-mile walk that gives you 10 different views of Hughenden Manor and the surrounding Chilterns countryside..

There’s currently no need to book to visit the grounds at Hughenden.

See www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hughenden/features/walking-at-hughenden

Chilterns Countryside

The National Trust also has a variety of walks in the Chilterns countryside, suitable for all abilities - from the 40-minute Best of Coombe Hill Walk, to the medium-length Beacon Hill, Juniper Bank and Aston Wood Walk around the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve and the National Trust woodlands at Juniper Bank and Aston Wood, to the 10-mile Exploring the Chiltern Escarpment walk between Coombe Hill and Whiteleaf Hill.

For details of a whole host of walks, see here.

Coombe Hill. (c) National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole