Walking in the Winter Wonderland

We know winter makes it harder to pull on your boots and get outside, but it’s one of our favourite times of year to go walking. The UK offers us so many different views and terrains in the countryside to choose for a walk, as well as historic towns and cities that will be twinkling with lights at this time of year. Here at TOG24, we wanted to find out when people would be going walking over the Christmas holidays, and it turns out most of us Brits will walk on the same day!

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Most of us will be doing this on Christmas day, new research reveals

We asked 1,733 people if they’d be going on a walk this Christmas, and 82% said yes, leaving 18% opting to stay in the warm, and probably their PJ’s. For those that are venturing out, the majority (32%) said they would walk on Christmas Day, closely followed by Boxing Day (23%) and then Christmas Eve (13%).

A Christmas walk is most popular with couples, with 40% saying it would just be them and their partner. 33% say the whole family will join them and only 5% say they will go on a walk with friends.

But where will we all be walking this Christmas Day? It turns out most of us (23%) will go to woodland or open countryside (21%), but just as many people will opt for local streets, so you don’t always have to get in the car or live in the countryside to enjoy a walk this Christmas. Only 1% say they will be donning walking shoes and backpacks and tackling hillwalking this Christmas, and we can only assume those people don’t eat that second helping of Christmas pudding. Just us?

Speaking of food, eating and drinking are one of the main reasons you’ll find Brits out walking, as 32% of us say it’s to make us feel better after indulging. But the most popular reason? To enjoy the fresh air and exercise, with 67% stating this as their motivation. A heartwarming 31% of us say it’s for quality family time and we’ll be thinking of the exhausted 3% who say they go on a walk to hopefully tire the kids out.

We recognise that Christmas can sometimes be stressful, especially if you’re not used to being with so many family members for so long, so rest assured, there are others that feel that way as 6% in our survey said they go on a walk to have some time away from their family.

Why you should walk this Christmas

There are loads of benefits of going walking, even if a walk at Christmas may end up at a cosy pub! Just getting out and breathing fresh air can work wonders for our mental and physical health. It’s also an activity that doesn’t cost anything and the whole family can enjoy.

If you want to get your heart rate going, walk a little quicker. You’ll know you’re going fast enough if you can still hold a conversation, but might struggle if someone asked you to sing a Christmas Carol.

Ditch the coffee cup, grab a flask and go for a walk instead. Walking will give you an energy boost, not to mention increasing Oxygen and Cortisol and lots of other lovely hormones that help bring up energy levels.  Studies have also shown that people find it easier to think creatively when they are walking, perfect if you want to get your brain in gear for the annual family Monopoly marathon.

Inspiration for Christmas walks across the UK

Best beach walk - Speeton Sands, Yorkshire

The seaside in winter? Nope, we’ve not gone mad, it is in fact a brilliant choice for a winter walk. After all, the strong sea breeze will blow the cobwebs away and probably exfoliate your cheeks nicely too. One of our favourite beach walks is Speeton Sands in our home county of Yorkshire. It’s super flat and features the chalk-white Bempton Cliffs, which are some of the highest on the East Coast. Don’t forget to plan your walk around low tides.

Best hill walk - Conic Hill, Scotland

It’s hard to beat Scotland when it comes to iconic hill walks, but Conic hill is up there with the best. Perfect all year round - just make sure you’re dressed for the weather, of course, it’s a 6.5-mile walk that will reward you with views across the stunning Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Best woodland walk - Knole Park, Kent

A haven of wildlife and tranquillity in Sevenoaks, Knole park is made up of 1000 acres of woodland, parkland and valleys. Keep an eye out for the resident herd of Deer, who have roamed there since the 1400s! The park is owned by the National Trust but it’s free to visit through any of the pedestrian gates. There’s also an onsite cafe and shops, making it a great choice if you’re bringing the whole family.

Best city walk - Birmingham

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to great cities we can take a walk around, but we love Birmingham for its historic and contemporary architecture. The city really goes to town with Christmas lights, if you fancy venturing into the city centre. if you need to get out of the cold, pop into the stunning contemporary library and curl up with a good book.

The results of our survey show that whilst we all have a lot in common when it comes to our Christmas traditions, it’s important to do things that make us happy this Christmas. Whether that’s a stroll round your town with the whole family or a solo hill hike. Now pass us another AfterEight…

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