Pateley Bridge to Wath Loop,
Start/finish | Pateley Bridge Google map
Length | 5 miles/2½ hours
Grade | Moderate
At the cusp between spring and summer season, cuckoos come to steep, slender Nidderdale. Sounds echo from wooden to river. A cuckoo hunt is more durable than it must be. Over the years I’ve persevered. This stroll offers you an opportunity of recognizing one.
In Pateley Bridge, take a deep breath and hike uphill, heading north into Scotgate Ash quarry, well-known in Victorian instances and now rubble cliffs. If you don’t discover Mr Cuckoo on the final quarry, he could also be within the copse on Silver Hill, as you descend to Wath village.
Look once more for him within the steepling bushes of Spring wooden, as you observe the outdated dale highway in the direction of Gouthwaite reservoir. Looping again to Wath, get your hands on the overgrown tracks of the Nidd Valley Light Railway, constructed initially of the 20th century to hold staff to distant reservoirs however closed by 1929 within the face of competitors from motor buses. It’s hidden in an avenue of bushes and there’s something of the opposite about it.
The Sportsman’s Arms in Wath serves Whitby fish, native game and a superb summer season pudding. It has a beer backyard with outdated fruit bushes. It’s a simple return to Pateley Bridge alongside the river. There are otters on this stretch, however I’ve by no means seen one.
Kit Peel, co-founder, NiddFest competition of nature and writing (16-17 June)
Trails to Strangford,
The view throughout Strangford Lough in the direction of the Mourne Mountains. Photograph: Paul McErlane for the Guardian
Start | Downpatrick Google map
End | Strangford
Length | 7 miles/three hours
Grade | Moderate
Several walkers’ routes run close to the southern shore of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland, together with one from Downpatrick referred to as Saint Patrick’s Trail.
This is a panorama of pasture, rolling hills, slender lanes and historic ruins. When I go to in early March, the one remaining snow is on the Mourne mountains, seen 15 miles south. There are new lambs and dozens of chook species nesting and flocking.
I cease to observe 15 rooks stalking a discipline in a line, heads down as if trying to find clues. I love the extreme, sculptural means farmers clip their hedgerows. From a distance you would possibly take them for partitions. No hedge-cutting is allowed after 1 March, defending nests.
Wrens dip contained in the dense hawthorn to their hidden maternity wards. Our most distinct indicators of the arrival of spring are gorse hedgerows – referred to as whines in these components and shortly to burst out with yellow flowers – so thick even a wren can’t enter.
Geese nest on the Lough’s many small islands, honking at one another. I have no luck recognizing seals however for these actually decided, Aquarium is shut by. It takes in injured seals that locals discover after storms.
In Strangford village you possibly can lunch in The Cuan (mains from £10.50). It has a coal hearth burning throughout my go to. I sit by it for lunch, considering it’s maybe the final open hearth I’ll see till autumn.
Garrett Carr, creator of The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland’s Border (Faber & Faber £13.99)
Dart Valley path,
Steam Packet Inn, Totnes, Devon
Start/finish | Totnes Google map
Length | 6 miles/three hours
Grade | Moderate
Beginning on the outskirts of Totnes simply above the Steam Packet Inn, this dramatic stroll wends upward alongside the steep-sided valley of the river. From the combined conifer and beech woods you’ll see the meandering tidal Dart.
As you permit the bushes behind and transfer into open pasture, swathes of snowdrops litter the Devon banks. The hills entice the attention down over glistening reed beds – solely eight miles from the ocean at Dartmouth, the mud flats entice water birds resembling black-backed gulls, migrant geese, goosanders, water rail, and little grebes.
You would possibly even spy a resident otter or one of many Atlantic gray seals that generally observe salmon and trout upriver right here. Rich birdlife is throughout: nuthatches, long-tailed tits and inexperienced woodpeckers name, and because the views open out as soon as extra you enter a spot that may very well be Tolkien’s shire, curvaceously inexperienced and rumpling right down to the river’s edge.
The path plunges onward by way of the intricate weave of flora within the Devon banks; pennywort, celandine, ferns and early primroses. You would possibly meet the sleek herd of Sharpham Jersey cows, bred for his or her wealthy milk and top notch cream – made into scrumptious brie on the Sharpham Dairy and Vineyard just a little means forward.
You can style each the cheese and the excellent wines on the unpretentious little cafe-restaurant there in the summertime. A last steep part, nonetheless with sweeping views of the gorgeously sinuous Dart, takes you into the ultimate quarter of a mile, previous the 14th-century church and down into the village of Ashprington the place the pleasant Durrant Arms awaits.
Looping again in your tracks for the return to Totnes, you possibly can take a decrease path, typically sticky with pink Devon clay when damp however properly definitely worth the scramble for the proximity of the water’s edge, the whispering reeds, and the profusion of chattering spring birdlife. Finish on the Steam Packet Inn for an amazing pint of Tarka and a restorative pasty or do-it-yourself soup (£5).
Miriam Darlington, creator of Owl Sense (Guardian Faber, £15.99)
Priddy, Three Droves,
Priddy pond, with blackened foliage after a wild hearth. Photograph: Alamy
Start/finish | Priddy village Google map
Length | 4½ miles/three hours
Grade | Easy
The village of Priddy within the Mendip Hills has a wealthy historical past. Its panorama is dotted with tumuli and traces of Roman lead mining. But what drew me right here first was a literary affiliation: the opening of William Blake’s poem Jerusalem – the ft that walked “in ancient time … upon England’s mountains green” — is claimed to check with the legend that Christ was dropped at the West Country by Joseph of Arimathea. A neighborhood saying goes “As sure as our Lord was at Priddy”.
Walking the Droves, there isn’t any doubt that you’re treading in historic footsteps; these thoroughfares have been created centuries in the past, predominantly as routes for moving livestock. Starting on the village inexperienced, head south up Pelting Drove till you attain Dursdon Drove on the left. Follow this till it meets the Monarch’s Way, then go north so far as the Wells Road. Turn left and after 200 yards flip proper onto East Water Lane Drove.
At its finish, flip left onto Nine Barrows Lane. At the crossroads one other left flip takes you again to the inexperienced. My go to in early March finds these sunken lanes impassable in locations, piled excessive with snow or operating with meltwater. The bushes are nonetheless naked, however the hedges and fields are already busy with a bunch of birds together with goldfinches, wrens, treecreepers, nice tits, fieldfares, skylarks and buzzards.
The Droves shelter lichens, mosses and ferns, and as spring progresses a spread of small mammals, wildflowers and reptiles might be in proof. The Queen Victoria Inn has log-burning stoves and is children-, dog-, and muddy boot-friendly. It serves wonderful native beers and ciders.
Pippa Marland, analysis fellow on the University of Leeds, engaged on the Land Lines: Modern British Nature Writing challenge
Dunsop Bridge to Whitendale,
A small waterfall on the Little Costy Clough. Photograph: Alamy
Start/finish | Dunsop Bridge Google map
Length | eight miles/3½ hours
Grade | Moderate
This lollipop-shaped stroll takes within the rugged valleys of Dunsop, Whitendale and Brennand, providing views into Lancashire’s wild moorland coronary heart. Starting at PuddleDucks Tearoom, observe the bridleway north alongside the banks of the Dunsop, the place dippers and gray wagtails hop across the rocks in ale-coloured water.
After half a mile or so, cross the footbridge after which proceed up the highway the place the stream forks. From right here, the footpath turns proper alongside the Whitendale river and climbs previous the confluence of Costy Clough and Little Costy Clough, the place rainwater from the moors above drops white and loud down the terraces of rock.
A reducing by way of the heather results in the distant hamlet of Whitendale, past which lies the lonely nation across the again of Middle Knoll. Lapwings flail and whoop over the bracken, whereas the skies are marshalled by buzzards and kestrels and typically the elusive, endangered hen harrier.
North of right here a wilderness unfolds for miles, seldom explored and just about pathless aside from the outdated Roman highway, maybe used to move the Pendle witches to their trial in Lancaster in 1612.
The route again to civilisation passes by way of Brennand Farm, after which it’s a case of retracing your steps to the village for tea and do-it-yourself cake within the cafe.
Andrew Michael Hurley, creator of Devil’s Day (John Murray, £12.99)
Anston Stones Wood,
One of James Brunt’s momentary pure artworks in Anston Stones Wood. Photograph: James Brunt
Start/finish | Anston Cricket Club Google map
Length | three miles/2 hours
Grade | Easy
About 10 miles east of Sheffield, in the wrong way from the favored and well-trodden locations of the Peak District, is a hidden gem. Anston Stones Wood follows a pure limestone gorge near South Yorkshire’s border with Nottinghamshire. The Woodland Trust reckons Anston Stones Wood is the second-best instance of limestone woodland in South Yorkshire, however for me, it’s by far the very best.
As an artist, this three-mile stroll and its many subsidiary paths are the closest factor I have to a studio: two minutes from the place I stay, they’re a spot to play, create and share a deep reference to the pure surroundings. Walks with my canine usually embrace two-hour stops to create a short lived pure art work for these following in my path.
From the cricket floor, the trail follows Anston Brook on the base of the gorge for simply over a mile, earlier than reducing again and retracing the upper slopes of the northern financial institution, taking in alder, beech and ash, yew, grassland meadows, and a few fairly splendid broadleaf limes alongside the upper paths. In spring, the woods come alive – the drumming of woodpeckers fills the air, pockets of bluebells stand proud among the many carpet of untamed garlic and for the previous two years a resident pair of kingfishers provide gorgeous flashes of blue alongside the brook, in all probability searching the growing numbers of younger brown trout.
You can’t stroll in Anston Stones Wood with out trying to find Dead Man’s Cave (clearly haunted), a right-of-passage tenting spot once I was a teen, however extra important for the 12,000-year-old flint instruments and ice age animal bones, found there throughout excavations within the 1960s. It’s off the primary path however native canine walkers will level you in the precise path. An extra boast is that Anston Stones Wood produced quarried stone for the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament following a fireplace within the 1830s.
A spot to picnic is the Little Stones, a rocky outcrop on the upper slopes of the gorge after two miles of strolling. Here the woodland opens up, with views throughout to the village of South Anston and the stroll’s last vacation spot, the Loyal Trooper pub.
James Brunt, artist (jamesbruntartist.co.uk)
West Down nature reserve,
A view over the river Test at Chilbolton Common. Photograph: Getty Images
Start/finish | West Down nature reserve (Google map)
Length | 5 miles/2 hours
Grade | Easy
Trains on the Sprat & Winkle line as soon as steamed their technique to London with a each day consignment of the watercress that also thrives on the banks of the chalk-rich Test. Today the disused line is the right path from which to catch glimpses of the gin-clear water, pausing on bridges to see trout, recent from the deprivations of winter, gulping down olive mayflies that alight on the floor.
Soon you flip from the outdated monitor to go up the chalk downs. These soak up the winter rains, filling the aquifers from which these chalk streams spring. As the trail takes you to greater elevations, you’ll see within the valley beneath, between inexperienced capturing wheat and the soon-to-be-yellow rapeseed, rows of vines: that is English champagne nation, with vineyards resembling Cottonworth, which produces a basic cuvée and a glowing rosé. The chalk seam right here runs south for lots of of miles, ending within the Champagne area of France.
Dropping again right down to the river plain, you come to Chilbolton Cow Common, now bursting into spring bloom. Tall flag irises are nonetheless curled inside their buds however the marsh marigolds splash vivid yellow alongside the banks. Mallards battle for mates, and water voles duck and weave between the reeds keen to construct the primary nest of the season. Finish on the riverside Mayfly Inn in Fullerton, with native beer, native bubbly and native trout on the menu.
Simon Cooper, creator of The Otters’ Tale (HarperCollins £9.99),
in paperback 22 March
Aberglaslyn Gorge and Cwm Bychan,
Beddgelert Bridge over the Afon Glaslyn. Photograph: Alamy
Start/finish | Beddgelert Google map
Length | 5½ miles/2½ hrs
Grade | Moderate
I’ve all the time liked how the Glaslyn river, from its confluence with the Colwyn, steps down this gorge in luscious, clear swimming pools.
Visitors used to come in spring for shows of invasive pink rhododendron, however since these brash crops have been uprooted by native efforts, a wilder spring makes its attractive comeback on this steep, vivid place.
This stroll begins on the little footbridge in Beddgelert over the Glaslyn, proper by the place the rivers meet. Hikers will see dippers, feeding their many broods, singing in great robin or wren-like tones, and diving to the riverbed. Toward the mouth of the gorge and climbing into Cwm Bychan, we welcome in springtime trans-Saharan migrants: wooden warblers, pied flycatchers and redstarts.
The woods are adorned by bluebells, celandines and violets. Wood anemones abound, rhizomes as aged as this cover of oak. Ancient are also the male ferns, bucklers, and smooth shields unfurling their otherworldly fronds. So, as you cross the gnarled, rusting pulley programs of the outdated copper mine within the tranquillity of Cwm Bychan, human historical past feels small. You’re tiny, climbing to the stroll’s apex within the bwlch.
The broad view, of Yr Aran, Lliwedd, Siabod and Snowdon, maybe nonetheless with a dusting of snow, is elegant and topped off by buzzards circling and even a goshawk displaying as you descend to Llyn Dinas.
Follow the Glaslyn once more, and, on the best way again to Beddgelert – aiming for the Tanronnen Inn and an actual ale – lastly cross the wooded hillock Dinas Emrys, which, relying on who you imagine, is both the lair of the Welsh dragon, an iron age, Roman, or Saxon fort, or the stays of one among Llewelyn the Great’s castles, bitten away by an even bigger type of time.
Alys Conran, creator of Pigeon (Parthian Books £eight.99), Wales Book of the Year Award 2017
Hoo peninsula, Kent
The marsh between Cooling and Cliffe. Photograph: Adam McCulloch/
Kent walks close to London
Start/finish | Cooling village Google map
Length | three.6 miles/2 hours
Grade | Easy
The marsh nation of the Hoo peninsula takes on a softer tone in spring. The churchyard at St James’s in Cooling might not harbour escaped convicts however it’s thought to have impressed the opening scene of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, and it’s straightforward to think about a small boy shivering subsequent to the road of little graves.
Jackdaws clack overhead and observe you to Cooling Castle with its magnificent gatehouse, designed for pouring boiling oil on to invaders. Walk north from right here and you’re rewarded with magnificent views of marshes and woodland rolling to the Thames. London’s solely 30 miles away, however right here you’re a world away amid lamb tails and fruit blossom. Take a picnic to eat amid the honey-scented cherry bushes within the orchard on the RSPB’s Northward Hill Reserve. Nightingale track flutes and twizzles from each scrubby nook of the reserve and herons float overhead.
Follow the nation lane again to the village, however be careful for site visitors on the bends.
Part of this route is close to the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, a collection of motorways and tunnels which, ought to it go forward, will reduce proper throughout the internationally protected wetlands by 2025. So don’t put the stroll off for too lengthy.
On the outskirts of Cooling, cease for a drink on the Horseshoe and Castle, the place stuffed animals and toby jugs gaze down from the rafters.
Carol Donaldson, creator of On The Marshes (paperback out 1 May, Little Toller Books, £10)
Morar to Stoul,
Morar is thought for its nice seashores and sea views.
Start/finish | Morar station Google map
Length | 12 miles/5-6 hours
Grade | Some laborious components
The village of Morar is the final cease however one on the West Highland Line, and identified for its superb seashores – the silver sands of Morar – which have featured in movies resembling Local Hero, however hikers also needs to see Loch Morar.
Walk a number of hundred metres south from the station and take the primary lane on the left, and you’ll attain the lochside in simply 15 minutes. Loch Morar is the deepest physique of water within the UK and has its personal monster, Morag, Nessie’s shy cousin. For about three miles, a lane follows the shore, previous islands overgrown with Scots pines framed by snow-capped mountains and woods filled with roe deer.
In early spring the banks are studded with yellow celandine, coltsfoot and primrose. The highway involves an finish at Bracorina, the place it’s attainable to park in the event you have a automotive and want to shorten your stroll. While the primary monitor continues alongside the shore, there’s a much less well-worn footpath that ascends the hillside and takes you over the spine of the peninsula in the direction of the long-abandoned village of Stoul, on the shore of Loch Nevis.
This path is steep, tough and boggy in locations. At the summit is a series of lochans, crossed by an historic row of stepping stones. This is eagle nation: I have seen each golden and sea eagles right here. Soon after, the trail drops precipitously right down to the ruins of Stoul, going through the wilds of Knoydart.
The Morar Hotel is the one place to go in Morar. It could be very pleasant – I used to be roped into the weekly pub quiz, which appeared to contain many of the village.
Neil Ansell, creator of The Last Wilderness: A Journey into Silence (Tinder Press, £18.99)