After enjoying a day of festive indulgence, Boxing Day is the perfect opportunity to pull on our boots and head into the countryside. Whether it’s a short stroll around a local nature reserve or something a little more adventurous, we’ve got a winter walk for everyone.
From the wilds of the Scottish Highland to a Cornish beach walk , here is our pick of the best Boxing Day walks across the British countryside.
Walk off your Christmas dinner with an amble up Chrome Hill in the Peak District ©Alamy
Why do we celebrate Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is a British tradition which follows Christmas Day. It began sometime in the 1800s when Christmas gifts were received by the in a ‘Christmas box’. The following day, wealthier classes would fill the box with gifts to give to the poor – often servants and staff from their home who would traditionally be given Boxing Day off as a holiday. Alternatively, the box would be donated to a local church to help poorer people.
Best boxing day walks in Scotland
Seek refuge from the cold inside one of Scotland’s most majestic churches, then venture into the Highlands past the wizards’ railway to a lonely mountain pass.
Glen Finnan – looking north ©Jake Graham
Glenmore Forest Park, Cairngorms
A beautiful six-mile walk through the Cairngorms National Park, perfect for wildlife spotting and amazing Highland views.
och Morlich lies beside the starting point of this magnificent walk through the Cairngorm National Park ©Getty
St Abb’s Head, Berwickshire
Enjoy a four-mile walk on the coastal cliffs of southern Scotland, spotting seabirds, dolphins and maybe even otters.
Coast landscape with cliffs and sea at St Abbs Head, Berwickshire ©Getty
Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge, Highland
Tapering south from the Highland town of Fort William, gorgeous Glen Nevis is bound by several high, rugged mountains, including the huge bulk of Ben Nevis, which, at 1,344m (4,409ft) above sea level, is the highest point in the British Isles. This low level walk through the Glen Nevis gorge is the perfect antidote to Christmas Day’s indulgence.
Hikers walking through Glen Nevis ©Jake Graham
Glen Affric, Highland
An 11-mile hike around the shores of Glen Affric, considered by many to be the Highland’s most beautiful glen.
Walk through the meadows and mountains of Glen Affric, Highland ©Getty
Best Boxing Day walks in North and Central England
The good folk of fortress-crowned Castleton, at the head of the Peak District’s Hope Valley, like to celebrate the Christmas period underground. And with an abundance of show caverns honeycombing the limestone in and around the village, there’s plenty of opportunity to do just that. Enjoy Boxing Day in the Peak District with a winter wander from this festive village to mighty Winnats Pass.
Castleton, Derbyshire ©Getty
Wasdale Head Inn, Gosforth, Cumbria
This venerable inn, hidden within the valleys and mountains of the Lake District, has housed some of Britain’s best novelists and poets – find out what inspired these great writers with a five-mile walk.
Wordsworth, Coleridge and Dickens all stayed at the Wasdale Head ©David Robinson
Hawkshead and Latterbarrow, Cumbria
The small village of Hakwshead in the middle of the Lake District National Park is a great base for exploring the surrounding hills, including the modest peak of Latterbarrow.
Winter veil: the village of Hawkshead in the Lake District National Park wakes to a blanket of thin frost and low-lying mist ©Simon Whaley
Keld to Tan Hill Inn, North Yorkshire
Midway through this Yorkshire Dales walk, stop off at the Tan Hill Inn – the highest pub in Britain – before returning across the moors past Roman cairns and craggy tors.
Stonesdale Beck flows below Stonesdale Bridge on Stonesdale Moor in Upper Swaledale, part of Yorkshire Dales National Park ©Getty
Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire
Tiny, pantiled cottages, honeycombed with narrow courtyards, tumble down a narrow gully to the sea. Front doors look over neighbours’ roofs and vertiginous stone steps link the different levels. Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire is magical in the winter months. While you’re there, escape the bustle of the village with a walk along the coast.
The tide ebbs at Robin Hood’s Bay in the North York Moors National Park to reveal a series of wave-cut platforms – Landing Scar, High Scar, Billet Scar – beyond which lies the snow-dusted headland of Old Peak ©joedanielprice
Howgill Fells, Cumbria
This challenging walk in the north-western corner of the Yorkshire Dales begins in the village of Sedbergh and climbs into Howgill Fells – take a break on The Calf, with staggering views west over the Cumbria landscape and east over North Yorkshire.
Sedbergh sits beneath the Howgill Fells in the Yorkshire Dales ©Getty
Take a winter wander from Tideswell’s ‘Cathedral of the Peak’ into the depths of Miller’s Dale and Monk’s Dale in the Peak District National Park.
Worship has taken place on the site of St John the Baptist church in Tideswell since the 11th century ©Alamy
Best Boxing Day walks in Southern England
Christmas illuminations– every winter, the village of Dunster and its 11th-century castle remembers its medieval past, lighting up its streets and houses with lanterns and candlelight ©AlamyHigh on a hill in north-east Exmoor, medieval Dunster Castle glows above lantern-lit houses, music-filled streets and bustling gift shops. It’s a magical scene best enjoyed after a winter walk.
Dunster Castle, Somerset ©Alamy
Pentire Head, North Cornwall
This 3.5-mile circular walk around a Cornish headland has everything you need for the perfect Boxing Day walk – dramatic geology, a wealth of wildlife and a secluded cove with a hidden secret.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them,” wrote poet Laurence Binyon as he sat on the cliffs at Pentire Point in 1914 ©Getty
Clare, Pentlow and Cavendish – Suffolk/Essex
Set out on a winter’s hike through the Stour Valley on the Suffolk-Essex border, discovering a trio of churches, each with their own fascinating history.
Like many East Anglian buildings, the exterior of St Mary the Virgin church in Cavendish is dressed with flint ©Alamy
Best Boxing Day walks in Wales
Llyn y Fan Fach, Camarthenshire
A four-mile walk in the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park along a bustling river, a lonely llyn and a wild mountain ridge.
Llyn y Fan Fach, Powys ©Getty
The rounded hilltop of Blorenge in the Brecon Beacons National Park was once dominated by industry – now, wildlife flourishes among vast swathes of heather moorland.
Keeper’s Pond on the flanks of Blorenge in the Brecon Beacons ©Getty
Mawddach Estuary, Gwynedd
Savour the beautiful scenery on this 10-mile walk to the stunning Cregennen Lakes in the foothills of Cader Idris in Snowdonia National Park.
Barmouth Bridge over Mawddach Estuary ©Getty
Llyn Tegid, Gwynedd
Known in English as Lake Bala, Llyn Tegid is the largest natural lake in Wales – explore its banks and surrounding forests in the east of Snowdonia National Park with this 8.5-mile hike.
Llyn Tegid, known as Lake Bala in English, sit in the east of Snowdonia National Park ©Getty
Marloes Peninsula, Pembrokeshire
One of the finest stretches on the Pembrokeshire coastline, the Marloes Peninsula takes in a long sandy beach, dramatic rock formations and towering clifftops.
Rainbow above Wooltack Point on the Deer Park in Pembrokeshire ©Drew Buckley
Waterfall Country, Powys
Discover a world away from the crowds with a spectacular walk through Waterfall Country in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Sgwd yr Eira and the rest of the waterfalls are at their most impressive after heavy rain ©Getty
Surrounded by hill, sand and sea on the Ceredigion coast in Wales is a small, white-walled church, at its most magical around Christmas.
Mwnt church, Wales ©Alamy
Best Boxing Day walks in Northern Ireland
Slieve Bearnagh, County Down
The Mountains of Mourne loom large behind the resort town of Newcastle. The beaches and dunes here are superb for walking, but Newcastle’s jewel in the crown sits inland; a fulfilling circuit of two of the Mournes’ most notable summits, Slieve Bearnagh (739m) and Slieve Meelmore (682m). It’s a tough walk but, whether permitting, makes for a great Boxing Day adventure.
Hiking along Mourne Wall, County Down ©Getty
Glenariff Nature Reserve, County Antrim
This short circular gorge walk, abound with tumbling rivers and waterfalls, navigates through a lush reserve in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim.
Boardwalks lead through the reserve form one waterfall to the next ©Getty