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Top winter walks in Test Valley, and why... with the National Trust

By mid-January the excitement of Christmas is a distant memory. The hibernation phase of winter is starting to drag but spring still seems a long way off.

The only way to style your way through is to tackle winter head on, with a winter walk. Face into the wind, relish the rain pattering on your hood, and delight in those moments when the air is crisp and the sunlight sparkles on a frosty landscape.  

Vicky Fletcher, General Manager at Mottisfont: “From seeing the first snowdrops lift their heads in the garden, to listening to a robin singing from a frosty hedgerow, moments spent outdoors have a hugely positive impact on our wellbeing during these shorter days. We’re inviting everyone to get outdoors, enjoy nature, and take in the beautiful sights on offer, with friends, the kids, or the dog.”

Whether you’d prefer a stroll through a wintry garden with coffee in hand, an adventure into winter woods with the kids, or to stride out in the blustery countryside in search of big skies and inspiration, here are the National Trust walks you need to get through winter.

Best for snowdrops and winter scents - Mottisfont, nr Romsey

From late January, hundreds of snowdrops litter the start of Mottisfont’s river walk in the garden. A woodchip paths winds through the snowy clusters, enabling visitors to get maximum enjoyment of this beautiful scene. Children and adults love the tiny flowers, which offer a hope of spring to come.

In Mottisfont’s scented winter garden winding paths take you past all sorts of winter delights. Look out for brilliantly coloured dogwood bark, the ghostly silver arches of ornamental bramble, rich red hips and berries. As winter continues, the garden becomes a refuge for flowering shrubs such as hellebores, mahonia, sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle and daphne.

Best for families - Mottisfont, nr Romsey

Follow the river through the gardens, then cross the fields behind the house, before returning to the grounds via the stable block. This is a pretty walk and perfect for families, being quite short and relatively close to the house. It’s suitable for all terrain buggies, and takes in Mottisfont’s Wild Play area, which has big wooden structures built for climbing, balancing and exploring.

A five minute drive from Mottisfont brings you to Spearywell woods where there’s a colour-coded 1.2 mile circular cycle route developed specially with families in mind, as well as a 2.5 mile route. Older families can try the six mile waymarked walking trail through ancient farmland and woodland, and along quiet country lanes.

Download the Spearywell woods cycle map and the six mile walking trail here: Explore Mottisfont's estate | Hampshire | National Trust

Best for ancient history - Stockbridge Down

You may be buffeted by winter winds as you make your way up Stockbridge Down, but it’s worth it, for the knowledge that you’re walking through a gateway into a very ancient past. This downloadable walk takes you over ancient Bronze Age burial mounds to 3,000 year old Woolbury Ring fort and ramparts at the very top of the hill. From there, you can take in vast expanses of the Hampshire countryside, and Wiltshire’s famous Salisbury Plain. Download the walks here:

Photo credits:

Photo 1: Mottisfont field - James Dobson

Photo 2: Snowdrops at Mottisfont - Catherine Hadler

Photo 3: Children playing at Mottisfont - James Dobson

Photo 4: Stockbridge Down in winter - Simon Newman

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