Set off on a summer stroll

Set off on a summer stroll

Posted 4th Jun 2018

Savour the longer days and warmer weather with a summer walk at some of the special places cared for by the National Trust. Wander through vibrant gardens bursting with colour, stride out on rugged moorland or admire far-reaching sea views from a clifftop path. With a range of routes from all-day hikes to leisurely evening strolls, we’ve got a trail for every type of walker.

Here are the National Trust’s favourite summer walks for 2018:


Dunwich Heath, Suffolk

From July to September Dunwich Heath is alive with colour. Bursts of pink and purple heather and coconut-scented yellow gorse surround the heath, making a summer walk through this wild terrain an unmissable sensory experience. Starting at the Coastguard Cottages, a 2.4 mile loop takes visitors past a watch hut, through secluded woodland that’s home to lizards and grass snakes, and via several ponds. After returning to the beginning, visit the tea-room to sample a delicious ‘scone of the month’ before admiring views of the vibrant Suffolk countryside from the upstairs lookout. 

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / Richard Scott

Sheringham, Norfolk

Enjoy a stroll through Humphry Repton’s glorious landscaped parkland at Sheringham. Designed in 1812, the park is one of the best surviving examples of a Repton landscape. Take a guided walk with a volunteer (tours take place once a month) or follow the two mile trail solo. Woodland canopies and firework-like displays of rhododendrons and azaleas give way to calming sea views on this wide-ranging walk. Take a breather in the temple – an ideal spot to soak in Sheringham’s natural and architectural wonders at the end of the walk. Visit the barn to learn more about Repton’s designs in an exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of his death.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / Rob Edwards

Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

For big skies and an abundance of wildlife, visit the National Trust’s oldest nature reserve Wicken Fen this summer. The raised boardwalk and lush grass droves allow easy access to a lost landscape of flowering meadows and reed beds. Longer forays into the wetlands offer the possibility of seeing herds of free-roaming highland cattle and Konik ponies.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / John Miller

South West

Boscastle Valency Valley, Cornwall

Sea bird colonies, a medieval harbour and striking clifftop views are waiting to be discovered on this stretch of Cornish coastline. The four-mile route starts in the picturesque fishing village of Boscastle and crosses the dramatic cliffs before heading inland across the Valency valley. Enjoy the dappled shade of the trees whilst following the meandering river back through peaceful woodland.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / Chris Lacy

Glastonbury Tor, Somerset

Climb to the top of Collard Hill for far-reaching views of the Somerset countryside. Find a quiet spot to admire the patchwork fields and catch glimpses of the Large Blue butterfly. Having disappeared in the 1970s, this rare and fascinating species is now flourishing thanks to careful conservation work.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / Brian Cleckner

Brownsea Island, Dorset

At just a mile long, Brownsea’s woodland trail is ideal for little legs. The walk meanders through scented pine trees where visitors can catch glimpses of wildlife and discover traces of the island’s industrial past. By visiting this natural haven, walkers are helping the National Trust protect habitats for hundreds of animals and birds, including the island’s famous red squirrel.

London and South East

Stockbridge, Hampshire

Soak up ancient history and commanding views of the Hampshire hills on a stroll across this chalk downland.  A short trail takes walkers up a gentle incline to an Iron Age fort. On a fine day, visitors to the ramparts will be greeted with clouds of brightly coloured butterflies and young red kites swirling above.

Tennyson Down, Isle of Wight

This popular 7-mile loop leads hikers across the chalk grassland clifftops from Tennyson Down to Freshwater Bay. It’s a strenuous walk but well worth the effort for perfect views of the Needles and a rich variety of flora and fauna, particularly butterflies. The area is steeped in history too; a 19th century fort, Cold War rocket test site and charming 1940s-themed tea room in a watch tower are all to be found along the way. 

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / John Miller


Derwent Water, Lake District

Gaze at the night sky from the gentle shores of Derwent Water on this atmospheric evening walk. Just a ten minute stroll from the lakeside car park lies Friar’s Crag, a small promontory with unparalleled views of the water and surrounding fells. On a clear night it’s the perfect spot to set down a blanket and watch the dusky pink sky turn into a thick blanket of stars.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / Chris Lacy

Craster to Low Newton, Northumberland

This bracing and beautiful coastal walk in Northumberland takes in a spectacular beach and ancient ruins. Setting off from the fishing village of Craster, the trail passes the ruined chambers and staircases of the mighty Dunstanburgh Castle. Step inside the fortress (National Trust members can visit for free) or pause outside to spot roosting swallows swirling overhead. Continue towards the long sweep of Embleton Sands for a spot of paddling (or swimming for the brave) before finishing in Low Newton by the Sea. 

Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire

Just west of Halifax lies a picturesque wooded valley filled with tumbling streams and fragrant pine trees. Follow a riverside trail past millponds and weirs – reminders of the area’s industrial past – before crossing the stepping stones into the woods. Here, mosses and ferns carpet the forest floor, creating a mystical, eerie landscape. Tuck into a picnic along the way or stop by the dog-friendly café and visitor centre at Gibson Mill for a chance to reflect on the varied history of the area.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / John Miller


Derwent Valley, Peak District
Heather-clad hills, gritstone tors and a mosaic of wildlife habitats make for a dramatic backdrop to this four mile walk. The route runs alongside the Ladybower Reservoir, through farmland and up steep wooded cloughs, before emerging high on top of the moors. Soak in panoramic views of the Derwent Valley and much of the Dark Peak – particularly impressive on a clear summer’s day.

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
For peace and quiet this summer, opt for a stroll among Calke’s veteran trees and secret walled gardens. With no public roads, it’s an ideal spot to get away from it all. The park boasts rich and varied landscapes of grassland, ponds and wood pasture – one of the rarest habitats in Europe. Take a closer look at Calke’s smallest creatures at one of the many bug-watching sites - excellent for curious children.


Stackpole, Pembrokeshire
Bosherton’s spectacular waterlilies are at their best in June and July. Amble around the ponds, keeping an eye out for the elusive otters. Walkers looking to stretch their legs further can explore the dunes and pools of the Mere Pool Valley behind Broad Haven South beach.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / John Miller

Rhossili, Gower

Feel rejuvenated on a clifftop walk across the headland at Rhossili. On a clear summer’s day visitors will be rewarded with spectacular sea views, and if they’re lucky, grey seals lolling on the rocks below. Remnants of history preside over this dramatic landscape – an Iron Age fortress and shipwreck are to be explored along the way.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / John Miller

Northern Ireland

Mount Stewart, County Down

Mount Stewart’s extraordinary gardens are not to be missed at this time of year. Voted one of the top ten gardens in the world, their magnificent array of plants and trees explode into a kaleidoscope of colour during the summer months. Stroll along paths lined with blooming magnolias and azaleas that lead to a seven-acre lake. Here, children can feed the birds and photography enthusiasts can capture the vibrant reflections in the water. Discover these majestic gardens on an expert-led tour on 22 July. Booking is essential – enquire at the property for details.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down

Jo’s Walks

7 July, 2pm – 4pm

Join ranger Jo Watmough on a series of walks around the expansive dunes, woodland and heath of Murlough Nature Reserve. On 7 July she’ll be sharing her 50 years of experience with visitors on a tour of the coastal fringe of the reserve, which in summer is alive with wildflowers and butterflies.

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / Christopher Heaney

Price: Free event, donations welcome. Booking essential via 028 4375 1467

Image courtesy of ©National Trust Images Richard Scott

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