Find a walk near you

Find a walk near you

We've rounded up some Wildlife Trust nature reserves that'll take your breath away.  

Matthew Roberts

Walks and hikes

What better way to keep fit, discover new places and embrace nature than walking or hiking? Whether you are looking for a hike that lasts until sunset, a yomp through dense vegetation or a trek through some of the most remote and wild trails – our nature reserves have it.

From hill-top hikes to tough tree-fringed treks, a walk through some of the UK’s most breathtaking countryside is richly rewarding whatever the season and whatever the weather
walks the wildlife trust

Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Find a walk near you

Do a little research in advance and find out some of the best Wildlife Trust nature reserves for a hike - or a stroll!

Bedfordshire

Ouse Valley Way - Long distance walkers on the Ouse Valley Way pass through very close to several reserves through Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, with a wide range of rich habitats and wildlife alongside the winding River Great Ouse. Gravel extraction has created a network of flooded pits and wetland habitats, including those at Godmanchester nature reserve, Felmersham Gravel Pits nature reserve and Paxton Pits, where otters, kingfishers and dragonflies and damselflies thrive in a mixed wet landscape of river, lake, wetland, wood and meadow. 

Greensand Ridge Walk - Walkers on the 40-mile Greensand Ridge Walk through central Bedfordshire are led through the Greensand Country Living Landscape. Following the Greensand Ridge, a distinctive feature that rises from surrounding clay vales, the path passes very close to several spectacular nature reserves of heathland and woodland habitats, including King's Wood and Rammamere Heath - alive with woodland flowers in the spring, and a wash of purple heather in the summer - and Old Warden Tunnel with its oasis of wildflowers and spectacular views. The eastern end of the walk is also close to Gamlingay Wood and Waresley and Gransden Woods all ancient woodlands in Cambridgeshire renowned for spring bluebells and oxlips.

Berkshire

BBO Wildlife Trust

Inkpen Wild Walk -This 17 km circular walk includes ancient heathland, woods and downs, and spectacular views. Starting in Kintbury, it takes in Inkpen Common and Inkpen Crocus Field nature reserves. There is a shorter 10 km route that starts at Inkpen Common. OS Explorer Map 158, 1:25,000 scale, covers the route. Download the route

Sandhurst Wild Walk - This gentle 9km circular walk passes through heathland, pasture and forest. Starting in Sandhurst, it takes in Wildmoor Heath nature reserve and part of Crowthorne Wood. OS Explorer Map 160, 1:25,000 scale, covers the route. Download the route

West Berks Living Landscapes Walk 1 -Enjoy varied wetland wildlife, ancient woods and rare heathland. Starting in Thatcham, this 6-mile circular walk takes in Bowdown Woods nature reserve. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 158 1:25,000 scale, covers the route. Download the route

West Berks Living Landscapes Walk 2 - Walk along the River Enborne, through woodland and pastures. Starting at Thatcham railway station, this 6-mile circular walk takes in part of of Greenham and Crookham Commons. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 158 1:25,000 scale, covers the route. Download the route

Buckinghamshire

BBO Wildlife Trust

Tring Park Wild Walk - Enjoy scenic views, wooded valleys and ancient parkland on this 10km circular walk through the Chilterns. Starting in Tring, the walk takes in Dancersend nature reserve and the Ridgeway National Trail. OS Explorer Map 181, 1:25,000 scale, covers the route. Download the route

Tring Reservoirs Wild Walk - Stroll along the waterside and look for waterbirds on this gentle 13km walk. Starting at Tring railway station, it takes in College Lake nature reserve, a section of the Grand Union Canal and three reservoirs. OS Explorer Map 181, 1:25,000 scale, covers the route. Download the route

Cambridgeshire

Ouse Valley Way - Long distance walkers on the Ouse Valley Way pass through very close to several reserves through Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, with a wide range of rich habitats and wildlife alongside the winding River Great Ouse. Gravel extraction has created a network of flooded pits and wetland habitats, including those at Godmanchester nature reserve, Felmersham Gravel Pits nature reserve and Paxton Pits, where otters, kingfishers and dragonflies and damselflies thrive in a mixed wet landscape of river, lake, wetland, wood and meadow. 

Rothschild Way - A 39-mile route between two of the oldest nature reserves in the country - Wicken Fen and Woodwalton Fen. The Rothschild Way takes you through the Great Fen, a landscape-scale project to restore the surrounding land for nature. Both reserves are full of wildlife to enjoy, with Wicken Fen supporting more than 8,500 species including a spectacular array of plants, birds and dragonflies. In the winter the Great Fen as a whole is fast becoming a prime site for watching birds of prey. The Rothschild Way follows existing public paths including parts of the Ouse Valley Way and the Fen Rivers Way. The route is named after Charles Rothschild, who bought both of the connected reserves and went on to found the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves – the organisation that went on to become the Wildlife Trusts.

Cornwall

Helman Tor - Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s largest inland nature reserve spreads from the slopes of Helman Tor. It is made up from a large wetland complex with a variety of habitats including wet and dry heathland, acid grassland, large areas of willow and oak woodland and numerous ponds. All of these habitats are linked by the Wildnerness Trail – a way marked trail forming a five mile circuit that is brought alive with birdsong and sundews. In the warmth of summer heaths are alive with dragonflies and damselflies, while in autumn the heathland is ablaze with colour. 

Cabilla & Redrice Woods Nature Trail - Experience wood pasture, glade, ponds and beautiful wildlife.

 

Cumbria

Hutton Roof Crags - This reserve contains some of the best areas of limestone pavement in Britain, with a wealth of unusual and specialist plants and animals. Pavement occurs in a mosaic with woodland, scrub, grassland and heath. On the thinnest soil look out for the silky blue flowers of the blue moor grass, while in the more open areas look for the striking dark red helleborine and fly orchid. In summer, delight at the sight of willow warblers and skylark, along with the resident birds that include nuthatch, greater spotted woodpecker and woodcock. From April marvel at a succession of butterflies ranging from the brimstone to the green hairstreak.

Whitbarrow - A great reserve, rich in wildflowers and butterflies, which presents stunning views of the Cumbrian fells and Morecambe Bay. Occupying 100 hectares on top of the Scar including the summit cairn, Whitbarrow is a striking place to delight in a long walk. Made up of Carboniferous limestone laid down over 350 million years ago, limestone pavements, low crags and scree now flood the land. The very thin soils over much of the site provide ideal growing conditions for a variety of specialist and interesting plant species including the hart's-tongue fern and early purple orchids.

Devon

Dart Valley - Experience a wild and remote wooded Dartmoor river valley with rushing water close by trekking through the Dart Valley. This walk is full of surprises. Follow a wild river through a wooded valley for four miles and clamber your way over granite boulders and round tree trunks. If the walk gets too challenging take a rest by the river where several flat rocks provide the ideal perch for watching kingfishers, dippers and damselflies.
Make a circular walk of the reserve by climbing up out of the valley on to high moorland, meeting up with the Two Moors Way footpath and relish the panoramic views of the nature reserve below. Can you spot the River Dart through the woodland canopy? The upper slopes of the reserve just below the Two Moors Way are also home to the rare pearl bordered and small pearl bordered fritillary butterflies. Depending on the route taken your walk could last between one to six hours.

Durham

Hedleyhope Fell - There are three well sign-posted routes to follow and an energetic 3 mile walk will take you right across the reserve offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside or perhaps a glimpse of one of the five specie of owl found here. One of the largest mid-altitude heathlands remaining in County Durham, Hedleyhope Fell, whilst somewhat remote and at times wild, is a beautiful place to walk. Visit in autumn to walk among the heath’s impressive display of colour. 

Gloucestershire

Laurie Lee - A 6 mile circular walk in the slid valley, Laurie Lee Wildlife Way has very steep hill climbs and rewards walkers with the most breathtaking views. Taking in four of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves; Frith Wood, Snows Farm, Laurie Lee Woodand Swift's Hill, the trail links together the stunning landscapes that inspired the work of Gloucestershire’s most famous twentieth century writer, Laurie Lee. Can you make it around all 11 installed poetry posts?

Herefordshire

Breinton - Between Hereford and Breinton: the city’s wonderful western approaches. 

Birches Farm & Holywell Dingle - Just over 9 mile long wild work beginning from Eardisley.

Dinmore Hill & Bodenham - A 4.5 mile guided walk in the heart of Herefordshire which links Queenswood Country Park and Bodenham Lake.

Hereford City - A point to point route of 4 miles.

The Woolhope Dome - A 5 mile walk around a stunning patchwork landscape.

The Doward - A 1 mile walk taking in King Arthur's Cave and Lord's Wood Quary.

Vagar - 7.1 miles beginning at Christopher Cadbury nature reserve.

Putley loop - 4 miles walk through pastures, woodland and orchards. Best from April to May to enjoy the blossom.

Marcle Ridge loop - 7 mile walk which takes in rolling hills and valleys.

Backbury hill loop - 4.5 mile walk with moderate climbs.

Lancashire

Warton Crag - A steep trek up limestone paths with stunning views over Morecambe Bay from the top of the cliff. Limestone grassland, limestone pavement and ancient semi-natural woodland boast thin, free-draining soils and rugged, rocky outcrops that support an extra special array of species to spot as you ascend. Wildflowers including wood anemone, common dog violet, horseshoe vetch and thyme create a blaze of colour through the year.

Northamptonshire

Nene Way -The Nene Valley is a rich mixture of wetland habitats, managed for people and wildlife as a Living Landscape by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Walkers on the long-distance Nene Way - particularly on the Cogenhoe to Irthlingborough section - pass by some spectacular wetland reserves that are key habitats for a large number of breeding and migrating waders and wildfowl and other wildlife. Summer Leys offers brilliant views from its various hides popular with photographers, and the path wends right through the heart of the Nene Wetlands - an extensive series of shallow and deep open waters, surrounded with a rich range of habitats including reed swamp, marsh, wet ditches, rush pasture, rough grassland and scattered scrub. Stop off at the Nene Wetlands Visitor Centre for all the latest information, nature gifts and wildlife sightings, and a cup of tea or coffee at the neighbouring cafe.

Further north, the Nene Way also skirts past Titchmarsh nature reserve, a wetland site with a wide variety of birds and butterflies, and past the ancient woodland of Old Sulehay with its amazing woodland flora and glow-worms in the summer.

Pitsford Water - The 7-mile circuit path on this beautiful nature reserve offers a rare feeling of wilderness in the heart of Northamptonshire. Open to permit-holders only (members of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire get a free permit, or you can buy day tickets from the fishing lodge) and with no access for dogs, the tranquil paths and hides offer expansive views across the reservoir, which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its large numbers of wildfowl since 1970: up to 10,000 birds can be seen here in winter. The wide mix of habitats also offer shelter to mammals including harvest mice, badgers and brown hares, as well as other bird life including large flocks of winter thrushes and migrant songbirds. 777 species of moth have been recorded here in total over 20 years of nightly trapping.

Northumberland

Whitelee Moor - Due to its active blanket bog and heather heaths, Whitelee Moor is a site of European conservation importance and is home to a variety of plants including sphagnum mosses, bog asphodel and cotton grasses. On the lower slopes meanwhile, birds such as merlin and buzzard occupy the land. Adder and common lizard are also common here as well as palmate newts that utilise the small pools along the burn. To walk around the whole site takes eight hours as there are few proper paths, but the majority of the reserve is open-access land.

Butterburn Flow - This remote site is the largest of the Border Mires, at 450 ha, and has many interesting sphagnum moss species. Containing large intact areas dominated by bog mosses, including sphagnum mosses, cross-leaved heath and cranberry, trekking around the reserve can make a feisty challenge. Several species of local and rare plants can be found here including the greater sundew and tall bog sedge. Peregrine, dunlin, curlew, meadow pipits and skylarks meanwhile, can often be seen skimming the skies.

Oxfordshire

Cothill Wild Walk - Explore Cothill Fen, the most diverse wildlife area in Oxfordshire. Starting in Wootton, this 5 km circular walk takes in three nature reserves: Dry Sandford Pit, Parsonage Moor and Lashford Lane Fen. Download the route

Foxholes Wild Walk- Stroll through rolling countryside, woodland and quiet villages on this 11km circular walk. Starting in Shipton-under-Wychwood, it takes in ancient woodland at Foxholes nature reserve. OS Explorer Map OL45, 1:25,000 scale, covers the route. Download the route

Goring Wild Walk - Enjoy magnificent views of the River Thames and rare chalk grassland species on this 8km circular walk. Starting in Goring, it takes in Hartslock nature reserve and a section of the Thames Path National Trail. OS Explorer Map 171, 1:25,000 scale, covers the route. Download the route

Henley Wild Walk - This varied 21km circular walk through the Chilterns takes in parkland, farmland and woodland. Starting in Henley, it includes Warburg Nature Reserve. There is a shorter 8km section that can start from the reserve or Nettlebed. OS Explorer Map 171, 1:25,000 scale, covers the route. Download the route

 

Scotland

Ben Mor Coigach - Dominating the landscape north of Ullapool, Ben Mor Coigach is Scottish Wildlife Trust’s largest reserve. Covering 6,000 hectares, the site is a very wild place – right from its summit to the North West coast. Take a trek on the reserve’s Postie's Path, a 10km coast walk delivering spectacular coastal views.

Shropshire

Catherton Common - Leave the spectacular heights of Clee Hill, head north-east and you come to Catherton Common, a sweeping open landscape with big skies. This heathland, with its subtle shades of tawny, gold and russet browns, reveals a marvellous diversity of life quite absent from the bright green intensively managed grassland of most contemporary agriculture.From late summer into autumn listen for the chirping of bog bush crickets – look closely to see their impressive antennae (which are longer than their bodies). Listen for skylarks and the piping calls of meadow pipits; yellowhammers and linnets are often here too. If you are after a particularly long walk, the common adjoins Cramer Gutter, another Shropshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve - a flower-rich meadow highly valued for its marsh gentians.

Staffordshire

The Roaches - Whether you’re an eager climber, an enthusiastic walker or a keen naturalist, the Roaches offers something for everyone. Its magnificent soaring rock faces and wild, heather-covered hillsides draw tens of thousands of visitors each year, and make it one of Staffordshire’s most photographed landscapes. For breathtaking panoramic views, climb the stone steps to the left of the stone cottage built into the hillside (RockhallCottage or the Don Whillans Memorial Hut), and walk along the rocky ridge. After a about half a mile you’ll reach DoxeyPool, a tranquil but allegedly haunted pool that is reputed to be home to a mermaid who lures travellers to a watery grave!

Alternatively, you could explore the less visited northern end of the estate, with its sheltered woodlands and the stunning rocky chasm known as Lud’s Church. Find more walks from across Staffordshire

Somerset

Cheddar Complex Nature Reserve - A chance to explore the desolate beauty of the Mendip Hills, the Cheddar Complex is made up of three Somerset Wildlife Trust reserves; Velvet Bottom, Black Rock and Long Wood. The remote landscape is fractured with traditional stone walls and offers panoramic view across the Levels and Moors. The area is famous for its caves and the spectacular Cheddar Gorge, which runs close to the reserves. Look out for redstarts on their summer migration, while peregrine falcons breed locally and can be spotted hunting over the reserve.

Sussex

Malling Down & Southerham Loop near Lewes - Stand almost anywhere in Lewes and Malling Down dominates the view to the east, its chalk hills towering up and overlooking the town. It really is worth the climb to the top, if only for the view that takes in the town, the wet meadows surrounding the River Ouse, the South Downs stretching away, or the expanse of the Low Weald farmland. In summer however, there are a thousand things to command the attention, including the very rare silver-spotted skipper that has started breeding here.

Burton Pond Circular, near Fittleworth - A gentle 2.5 mile circular walk which takes in the different habitats within one site - various woodland, carr, wet and dry heath, two large ponds and bogs.

Explore Ebernoe near Petworth - A pleasant 3.5 mile walk through varied ancient wood pasture with ponds, streams, meadows and glades.

Roaming Eridge Rocks near Tunbridge Wells - A gentle stroll around Eridge Rocks Nature Reserve, taking in the sandstone outcrops with their incredible lower plant life, and mixed woodland with glades and rides full of insects.

Levin Down Loop near Chichester - A walk around the hilltop reserve of Levin Down. Take in the views across to Trundle Hill and the Goodwood Estate, and find out about the varied wildlife of this Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The Mens Meander near Billingshurst - The Mens is a large wild area of ancient woodland in the Low Weald. Largely unex­plored, it certainly has an untamed, mysterious feeling to it and many people describe it as ‘wild’.

Marline Valley Visit Hastings -  Marline Valley is a wonderful mix of unimproved wildflower meadows, semi-natural ancient woodland and a classic Sussex ghyll stream - situated on the edge of Hastings.

Old Lodge Loop near Crowborough - A loop around Old Lodge Nature Reserve, set in the heart of the Ashdown Forest. The walk will take you through many different areas of habitat including open heathland, pine forest, wet heath and grassland.

Rye Harbour Ramble near Rye - A 9 mile route which takes you from Rye station to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Explore a mosaic of coastal habitats - shingle, saltmarsh, saline lagoons, grazing marsh, freshwater gravel pits and reedbeds.

Seaford Head Stroll near Seaford - A 4.5mile loop taking in the stunning views of Seaford Head including the 7 Sisters, Hope Gap, Cuckmere Haven and The English Channel. This walk will take you through many different habitats. 

Selywns Wood Saunter near Heathfield - A short but perfectly formed walk, just over a mile, around Selwyns Wood Nature Reserve. This takes in the key natural features including woodland, rides, streams and heath.

Woods Mill Wander near Henfield - A 2.1km walk around Woods Mill Nature Reserve, taking in woodland, meadow, river and standing water habitats.

Wales

Radnorshire Wildlife Trust

Ffoesidoes is over 2,000 foot up high in the Radnor Forest, close to the highest point Black Mixen, but is well worth the rewarding views down the Harley Dingle. Containing over 60 acres of sub-montane dwarf shrub heath, heather and crowberry which is often filled with Emperor moths decorate the land. Keep your eye out for the bronze-age burial mound and enjoy the bird song of skylarks, meadow and tree pipits.

For those thirsty for a challenge, trek through the tall and springy heather for a more difficult walk. Keep watch for the appearance of the local heather weevil and wide bodied rove beetle.

Cefn Cenarth - Remote upland sessile oak woodland dripping with mosses and lichens, this unspoilt area is great for seeing pied flycatchers and redstart in spring. There are two sections – north and south. In between, and almost connecting them, is a recently clear felled area of conifer plantation which is now being restored to oak woodland. The rich mossy land supports a wealth of colourful invertebrate including the brassy coloured ground beetle and green oak tortrix moth.

The nearest village is Pant-y-dwr, from which you can drive from on a minor road before taking a forestry track and parking in a small quarry by the reserve. Alternatively, walk further, using footpaths and very minor roads.

Cnwch Bank - Part of Beacon Hill common, Cnwch Bank is dominated by large areas of heather. Look out for wet flushes with water purslane, sphagnum moss, lesser twayblade, and the insectivorous lesser bladderwort. High up on this wind-swept moorland, breeding birds include meadow pipit, stonechat, merlin, red grouse, linnet, peregrine and raven whilst hen harrier and red kite are visitors.

The common can be reached on foot via many rights of way shown on the OS map. The best access by car is at SO 192 748. Go through the gate and park 100m beyond.

Tylcau Hill - Why not stretch your legs on this lovely 5.5 mile walk taking in Gors Lydan Barrow and medieval huts? You could start it at the Tylcau Hill car park and have a wander around the reserve too.

Tylcau Hill can be reached from Beacon Hill on foot on public rights of way. This hillside of diverse flower-rich farmland, with old hedgerows and scrub, has been spared from agricultural improvement. Mountain pansies bloom on the higher slopes, while in the wooded dingles clumps of oak fern poke through. Wet flushes have wonderful humps of cushion moss with hollows full of sphagnum and butterwort. Marsh arrowgrass, quaking grass and patches of devil's-bit scabious can be found dotted about. Look out for adders tongue fern and lady's mantle below the gorse-clad cwm.

Both male and female cuckoo have thrilled visitors, two springs running. Butterflies and moths include the small pearl-bordered fritillary, green hairstreak and the brightly coloured scarlet tiger moth. Bullheads loiter under stones in the Camddŵr Brook and otter spraints have been seen on several occasions, along with common lizards, frog and toad.

Gilfach Farm - Set in the lovely Marteg Valley just north of Rhayader, Gilfach is a 410 acre hill farm. The farm is a mosaic of habitat including traditional hay meadows, rocky outcrops, rhos pasture, wet flushes, hill-side scrub and oak woodland. Follow the walking trails through meadows peppered with anthills, look out over the valley with its glorious views and spot a dipper on the River Marteg as it tumbles down through the reserve and over the waterfalls – where in November you might just glimpse a leaping salmon.

Though many visitors park at Marteg Bridge (just off the A470 about three miles north of Rhayader) you can also drive on through the reserve, turning right down the lane to the Old Farmyard and Welsh longhouse where there is a small car park, visitor information and toilets. The 136 mile Wye Valley Walk runs through the reserve.

Burfa Bog - Long distance walkers on the Offa’s Dyke Path pass within 500 metres of Burfa Bog with its mosaic of wet and dry grassland and streamside alder woodland. Look out for wetland plants including marsh marigold, meadowsweet, cuckoo flower, ragged robin, and lesser pond-sedge. The reserve is rich in grassland fungi including the pink waxcap hygrocybe calyptraeformis. Breeding birds include tree sparrow, whitethroat, spotted and pied flycatchers, bullfinch, marsh and willow Tits, linnet, kestrel and yellowhammer. Butterflies include dark-green fritillary, orange tip, speckled wood, small heath and ringlet.

Yorkshire

Spurn National Nature Reserve - A 3-mile sandy spit protrudes into the North Sea, with the Humber Estuary on one side and the sea on the other. Partially paved, walkers are invited to make the trip down to the end and back, perhaps crossing over the sand dunes on the return journey so to appreciate both the coastal and estuarine habitats and the variety of wildlife that can be experienced here.

Visitors must take note of tide times advertised on site, so that they cross the sandy strip in plenty of time. Those wishing to extend their walk can also call in at nearby Kilnsea Wetlands Nature Reserve. Just north of Spurn – new wetland habitat has been created here to compensate for the loss of habitat on the eroding Holderness coastline, for the benefit of wading birds. Look out for golden plover, lapwing, merlin, hen harrier and Brent geese in winter.

Brae Pasture, South House Pavement and Southerscales - For a real challenge, look no further than Ingleborough SSSI and National Nature Reserve, which makes up part of Yorkshire’s well-known three peak challenge. Three Wildlife Trust nature reserves are nestled amongst this corner of the Yorkshire Dales; Brae Pasture, South House Pavement and Southerscales, on which you can clamber over the narrow clints (blocks) and grykes (fissures) of the limestone pavement. Wonder at the classic Yorkshire landscapes, lined with drystone walls and dotted with grassland and blanket bog habitat.

Woodland Wildlife Trust

Mark Hamblin 2020VISION

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If you can't get to these places

Even if you live in a town or a city, beautiful walks can be closer than you think. Why not dust off that map and plot a course from your home to the nearest nature reserve, via every green space you can see. Look out for wildlife corridors along the way and think about how linking up the landscape could create huge benefits for wildlife.

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Tom Hibbert