One of the best things about winter is getting wrapped up in your woollies and venturing outdoors on a crisp winter’s day to admire frosty landscapes and winter wildlife. From heritage sites and manor houses to winter woodlands and breathtaking deer parks, we've picked five of the best National Trust sites for enjoying walking trails and the countryside's winter landscapes at their best.
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Image credit: National Trust
Mottisfont is home to the National Trust's newest winter garden, exploring the potential of plants that are at their most beautiful and interesting when other plants are in hibernation. The garden blends a number of unusual plants that are rich in colour and scented. As winter creeps in, the garden becomes a refuge for late flowering shrubs and sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle.
The walk: Estate walk
Go on this great six mile walk around our estate taking in historic farmland, ancient woods and the River Test. It’s the perfect way to see some of Hampshire's stunning countryside glistening in the winter frost.
The Dunham Massey winter garden is the largest of its kind in the UK. The seven-acre garden is home to over 700 different plant species and a further 1,600 shrubs, providing plenty of distractions from the cold - from striking white-stemmed silver birches and bright dogwood barks to colourful berries and flowers. Around February, look out for thousands of snowdrops which carpet the garden and the striking colours of the blue winter iris.
The walk: Ancient trees
Discover one of the finest collections of veteran trees in England, as you explore Dunham Massey Park. Rich in wildlife, the park is also home to a herd of over 150 fallow deer. See if you can spot the red brick barn where the winter feed for the deer would have been stored.
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The Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey offer plenty of scenic delights, with statues and columns scattered across the atmospheric grounds, which look extra special in the frost and snow. On the winding walk, discover bright yellow and red dogwoods and the polished bark of the Tibetan Cherry. Enjoy the scent of winter flowering honeysuckle floating in the breeze and look out for the Himalayan Silver Grove, with their slender white trunks.
The walk: Wicken Fen boardwalk trail
Not far from Anglesey Abbey lies Wicken Fen, one of Europe’s most important wetlands. The boardwalk trail takes you on a journey 5,000 years back in time as it weaves its way through historic Sedge Fen and provides safe and easy access all year round - ideal for visitors using wheelchairs or pushchairs, or those just wanting a short walk.
See magnificent abbey ruins combined with beautiful landscaped Georgian water gardens at this breathtaking World Heritage site, which also boasts its own medieval deer park. Fountains Abbey has over 800 acres of beautiful parkland to enjoy, full of hidden walks for a great winter escape. You’ll find lots of Larch and Scots pine, whilst yews provide splashes of winter colour to frame the frosty views.
The walk: Ancient trees
On this circular walk you'll learn a little more about the ancient trees in the Deer Park and gain insights into eighteenth century landscaping where you'll walk down the remarkable Lime Avenue, framing the view to Ripon. See if you can spot the three types of deer in the park; Sika, fallow and red.
Explore the wonderful eighteenth-century pleasure-ground waiting for you in the woods at Wallington. Whichever path you take through the woods, whether it’s the winding serpentine path or the longer path that loops around the china pond and past the impressive Portico House; the tranquillity of the landscape will surround you. Discover the mini-lake and the enchanting walled garden. There is also a beautiful edwardian conservatory, originally created as a Winter Garden, which is home to an array of beautiful plants throughout the year. The grounds at Wallington are open all year round.
The walk: River walk
Walk along the banks of the River Wansbeck, crossing over bridges and stepping stones. Explore the woods and see what wildlife you can spot along the riverside. This circular walk takes about an hour and will lead you through the west wood and along the river before bringing you back through the wonderful walled garden and east wood.
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