A great family day out doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Sometimes just going for a walk can be fun, educational and a chance to make special memories together and share some quality time. From exploring rivers and spotting wildlife to woodland escapades and hunting for fossils, we’ve chosen 10 fun family walks around the UK that will blow the cobwebs away.
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If your family aren’t naturally thrilled by the idea of a walk (and let’s face it, many children aren’t), why not enhance your outing and entice those reluctant walkers just a little bit further by taking along binoculars, camera, sketchpad, OS map or any bird or bug books so they can learn about nature? You could also try our free nature scavenger hunt to keep them busy.
Dressing for the UK weather is a must, so a change of clothes, rain gear or even the wellies may be a good idea. Many of the places on our list of family walks would also make a fantastic picnic spot, so don’t forget the snacks!
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Fun Family Walks Around the UK
Exeter Sculpture Walk
Exeter Sculpture Walk can be found at the beautiful Streatham Campus at the University of Exeter. The campus is built around a country estate, and is also a registered Botanical Garden.
There are 36 sculptures to discover, some indoors and some in the open. The full walk will take about two hours – or if you prefer a shorter walk, a wander around the outdoor sculptures alone will take around an hour. The sculptures on display make up a great and varied collection, including works by artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Geoffrey Clark, Peter Randall Page, Paul Mount, together with other emerging artists.
A trip here is a brilliant opportunity to help your family appreciate art, while exploring a stunning setting of gardens, parkland, woodland and lakes with lovely views across the city to the sea at Exmouth. Why not make a day of it and bring a picnic?
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Knole Deer Park, Kent
Knole Deer Park is a historic house and medieval deer park situated in the market town of Sevenoaks in Kent. There’s plenty to see at this National Trust favourite with an easy all-ability trail through the deer park.
Beautiful deer roam free in the stunning parkland, providing a source of great pleasure to all ages. The mixture of unspoilt woodland and open meadows creates a rich and varied environment, making the perfect natural playground for adventurous children to explore year-round.
Knole is exceptional for its vast size and unmanaged landscape so expect fallen trees left to nature (perfect for climbing and balancing) and bracken thick with wildlife to spot. A range of buggy-friendly paths makes the park easily accessible for parents with very young children too. See sweet chestnut trees of all shapes and sizes lining the Chestnut Walk, and some intriguing ant hills.
With a large number of free attractions on offer, including the Visitor Centre, Park Experience room, several exhibitions and the entire deer park, a visit to Knole makes for a wonderful, fun and affordable day.
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Ness Islands Walk, Inverness, Scotland
Although they are actually within the city itself, the Ness Islands could easily be a million miles away. The islands are linked by charming old bridges and lead you on a quiet, scenic walk through huge native and imported ranges of tree life. They offer a unique and serene family destination for those who love to wander, as well as suited to wheelchair and pushchair users.
Along the way, you’ll also go past some of the best salmon pools to be found on the lower Ness which is always a favourite with the kids. If your family are game for a slightly longer walk (1-2 hours), you can head past the Inverness Leisure Centre to the Floral Hall – a subtropical horticultural gem with small waterfalls, fish and an assortment of plants/trees. Floral Hall also has a delightful little tea room.
The great thing about this walk though is you can make it as long or as short as you like as there are a number of bridges that allow you to shorten it if time is running out. It is also worth a mention that that the charming Whin Park and the Ness Islands Railway are both nice and close by to create a full family day out.
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Glynllifon Park, Wales
Glynllifon Park’s extensive historic gardens and Country Park are a fabulous setting for family walks in any season – be sure to bring your camera because it’s simply beautiful!
There are several water features which the kids are encouraged to play in (so bring a change of clothes), a couple of modern sculpture trails, and also some locally run treasure hunts and orienteering courses too. Dogs are welcome, as long as they are kept on a lead and you clean up after them.
Glynllifon is accessible to all ages and abilities and offers a wheelchair and pushchair circuit of the park and excellent disabled facilities. You can always pop into the Black Cat cafe if you have run out of snacks, or for a well-deserved tea and cake.
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Barton Broad Boardwalk, Norfolk Broads
Named a National Park in 2015, the Norfolk Broads offer such a range of routes and locations that you are sure to find a walking route to suit your family, regardless of ability.
With 190 miles of footpaths to be explored, from nature trails to short circular walks, walking through the Norfolk Broads gives you the perfect opportunity to see more of the area’s natural beauty, spot its unique wildlife and enjoy some fresh East Anglian air.
An excellent example of a short family walk is the Barton Broad Boardwalk. Set on the banks of the second largest of the Norfolk Broads, the walk takes you deep into the unique landscape and offers fantastic views of the waterway. The route covers 1.5 miles and will take you on an adventure through swampy woodlands. As the name suggests, the trail runs on a boardwalk making it easy for children, dog walkers and those who require wheelchair or buggy access to enjoy the panoramic view of Barton Broad.
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Golden Cap Estate, Dorset
Covering 95 miles of coastline, UNESCO World Heritage Site the Jurassic Coast in Dorset is an incredible location for a walking with the family. The layers of rock are fascinating as they tell the story of Earth’s history across 185 million years, and it is the perfect location for your intrepid explorers to try their hand at fossil hunting.
With miles of paths to walk, a great family-friendly option is the Golden Cap Estate where you will find The Smugglers’ Trail, one of the most interactive and fun-filled Dorset walks. Routes can be as long or short as you need them to be, and most are dog-friendly.
Providing an insight into Dorset history, take your family on a walk in the footsteps of the county’s famous smugglers by downloading the free Stonebarrow Hill smugglers’ story, trail map and activity sheets. Children can complete rubbings at posts positioned throughout the route, and there are plenty of picnic spots so the whole family can take a moment to enjoy the stunning surroundings and sea views.
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Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
Explore forests, fields and wildlife in the grounds of a National Trust favourite, Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire. Bring your dog, bring your bike – you can even bring your horse!
The estate is nestled in the chalk downlands and ancient woods of the Chiltern Hills. You’re free to explore a network of footpaths and bridleways, many of which are wheelchair/pushchair accessible. Seasonal changes transform the landscape so no two visits are typically the same and bluebell season is simply spectacular.
A short walk through the woods in the grounds will take less than two hours. Keep an eye open for deer that have roamed free in the area for hundreds of years, as well as red kites often seen in the area. After exploring the woods, why not climb Ivinghoe Beacon and enjoy the stunning panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
For history lovers, the site is an excellent walking location too. Visit the Pitstone windmill built in the 17th century, as well as Iron Age farms, ancient Roman settlements, and World War 2 monuments to discover the estate’s fascinating past.
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Stepping Stones Walk, Box Hill, Surrey
Box Hill has a wide range of walking trails to explore. The Stepping Stones Trail is a lovely walk down to the River Mole and back up to the top of the hill, and the iconic stepping stones make the perfect spot to stop for a tranquil break.
Trees to climb in, leaves to tumble in, sticks to race on the river like boats, creepy-crawlies to discover… this is the kind of rough-and-tumble outdoors play that most children love. All this and more can be found on the purpose-built natural play trail, which is short, level and very easy to navigate.
The first half of your walk is as much adventure playground as ramble. The new natural play trail with its tunnels, log bridges and rope swings, is a wonderland for the kids. They will find the temptation to wander off the path and go wild irresistible – so will some adults! The second half, the stepping stones trail, is more serene and wooded, taking in wildlife, woods and scenic upland meadows.
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Nine Ladies Circle, Peak District
Sandwiched between Manchester and Sheffield in the north of England, the Peaks is renowned for its green rolling hills dotted with old farm houses and country pubs. There’s nothing better than a long walk across the Dales, over drystone walls, towards a good old English pub for lunch!
While there are thousands of walks in the stunning Peak District, if you are on the hunt for a short walk with kids try the Cork Walk (aka Nine Ladies Circle) which is around 2km in length and a family favourite. This circular walk on Stanton Moor has it all – unusual stones to explore, rocks to climb, woodland, open views and muddy puddles!
At the start of the walk is a large rock that looks like a corkscrew – it’s begging to be climbed by the grownups if you’re up for the challenge. The walk continues round to the left, however, you might like to take a detour down the old quarry to play amongst all the boulders before continuing the route. A snack at the Nine Ladies Circle is standard; a Bronze Age circle used by the Druids. Enjoy the views over to Bakewell as you loop back round to the beginning where your troop will want to do it all over again.
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Alpaca Walking Experience, Hampshire
For something truly original, what about trying the Hensting Alpaca Walking Experience? Exercise has never felt so effortless as when you are leading a beautiful alpaca through the rolling countryside of Hampshire.
Walk alongside the quirky alpacas, feel their silky fleece and forget the miles beneath your feet as you trek through fields. One look into their big brown eyes and it’s guaranteed you’ll be hooked! Don’t worry there will be plenty of stops along the way for those all-important alpaca selfies. This may be more suitable for older children (or for children who can manage the distance).
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