Walk this way and marvel at the countryside all around us

Country walking
Country walking

Once you’ve eaten your own weight in turkey, maxed out on mince pies and knocked back enough Christmas spirit to sink a ship, you might feel the need for a bit of fresh air

And whether you’re just looking for an excuse to stretch your legs or looking at a resolution to be more active in the year ahead, we’re surrounded by stunning countryside that makes exploring the great outdors a real pleasure.

To help highlight the glories of the great outdoors, the Chilterns Conservation Board has drawn up a list of 12 Walks of Christmas to inspire you – and some of them are right on our doorstep.

The routes include an easy stroll through the beautiful wintry woods of the Ashridge Estate and a longer circular walk through Whipsnade to the spectacular viewpoint at Dunstable Downs.

There is great scenery, wildlife to enjoy and usually a pub or two along the way to pop into for some refreshment.

All are part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which covers 326 square miles and stretches from Oxfordshire to north Herts.

The walks include one through Wendover Woods, the 325 hectare open access woodland site managed by the Forestry Commission which feature lots of trails, a cafe, children’s adventure playground, a fitness trail and the Go Ape high wire forest adventure.

The Whipsnade to Dunstable Downs walk has been designed to avoid stiles to make it attractive to walkers of all abilities, and takes in the famous Tree Cathedral as well as offering magnificent views over Aylesbury Vale.

Walks in the Ashridge estate are also designed to take in easy level ground, with good surfaces and no stiles, gates or other obstructions.

Ashridge is a joy all year round, and a prized place to get away from it all and enjoy tranquillity and wildlife.

If you like what you see, you can return again and again – for e bluebells in late April and early May, and to enjoy deer, birds and other wildlife at any time of the year. It’s also a great place to take the children to let off steam with plenty of space to run around and play away from traffic.

For the more ambitious there’s also an Ashridge Drovers Walk, a circular route covering four or six miles through farmland, woodland and commonland and past the National Trust’s Ashridge visitor centre.

You can get full route details and interactive maps by visiting the website at www.chilternsaonb.org/featured-walks.