Looking for a short break this spring? Walking in Wales and Southern England can be an extremely rewarding prospect at any time of year, but particularly so during spring. There are hundreds of footpaths covering a huge variety of locations that can cater for all tastes and we are truly spoilt for choice. It’s hard to pick any favourites but we’ve had a go anyway! Here’s a selection of the walks our team have enjoyed over the years. Think of these as inspiration if you’re ever fortunate to find yourself near these wonderful locations, we’ve also listed the best map choice that covers each area.
Worm’s Head – Rhossili Bay, Wales (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Wales)
This rocky promontory resembles a serpent semi-submerged in water, winding its way out to sea from Rhossili Bay. Historically named ‘Wurm’ meaning ‘dragon’ in old English, the island is joined to the mainland by a rocky causeway and features the large Inner Head, and a Low Neck leading further out to the Outer Head. The headland is one mile long and the highest point is about 150 feet.
The walk itself is only a couple of miles long that races against the tide; the rocky, jagged causeway is only exposed for 2.5 hours before and after low tide, so walkers should always check the tide times before they set off over the causeway.
Looking north from the top you might be able to spot buried in the sand the wooden hull of the submerged wreck of the ‘Helvetia,’ a Norwegian oak barque which ran aground on Rhossili Beach in November 1887. The remains of the ‘Helvetia’ are one of the most photographed locations on Gower and as a result is the most famous shipwreck in the area.
Offa’s Dyke – Wales (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Wales)
Winding through eight counties, Offa’s Dyke crosses the English-Welsh border many times in its 177-mile length. This large linear earthwork is named after Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from AD 757-796, who is believed to have ordered its construction. The dyke traverses low ground, hills and rivers and is recognised as Britain’s longest monument and would take two weeks of walking to complete!
Protected as a scheduled monument, some of its route is followed by the Offa’s Dyke Path that runs between Liverpool Bay in the north and the Severn Estuary in the south. A challenging hike, from the Vale of Clwyd to Prestatyn is around 20 miles and traverses through lavender-set hills and pastoral lands. Wildfowl and wading birds populate the River Dee estuary at the start of the walk, and further on you will experience incredible views of western Snowdonia from the Vale’s peak. The walk concludes on Prestatyn’s sandy beach.
Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – Wales (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Wales)
Opened in 1970, the 35,000 feet of ascent and descent of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is said to be equivalent to climbing Mount Everest. The route twists and turns through 186 miles of breath taking coastal scenery including steep limestone cliffs, red sandstone bays, volcanic headlands and flooded glacial valleys.
Lying almost entirely within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park the trail displays an array of coastal flowers and bird life, as well as evidence of human activity from Neolithic times to the present. Borough Head has some great cliff-top walks blanketed in spring flowers at this time of year too.
In its entirety the Coastal Path is a formidable physical challenge, yet it can also be enjoyed in shorter sections, accessible to people of all ages and abilities, with the small coastal villages, like Tenby, strung out along its length offering welcome breaks and added enjoyment. Most visitors tend to walk a short section at a time, adding a piece to the jigsaw each time they visit.
Arlington Bluebell Walk – East Sussex (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Southern England)
The Arlington Bluebell Walk is only open in the spring at the height of Bluebell season. Since 1972 the walk and farm trail, based at Bates Green Farm, has developed into seven different and interesting walks over three working farms.
One walk of 2.5 miles through Beaton’s Wood is fully wheelchair accessible (with mobility scooters available to hire). In this wood you will see white anemones followed by panoramic beds of bluebells which have been well established for centuries.
Another circular walk is called the Green Walk which is also 2.5 miles long and has stiles to negotiate. It leads to Parkwood Farm where a special viewing gallery allows you to see the milking of a large herd of dairy cows every afternoon between 3.00pm and 5.00pm.
Along the walks there are signs illustrating the various countryside flora and fauna you will experience which makes it a great interactive day for all the family.
Thames Path National Trail – Southern England (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Southern England)
The Thames Path is one of the most distinctive and varied walking trails in the country, a route covering 184 miles of the UK’s best-known river from its source in the Cotswold hills to the sea. Passing historic towns, peaceful water meadows, rural villages and famous landmarks the trail cuts through the heart of London to finish at the Thames Barrier in Greenwich.
The designated walks are split into sections, so you can begin at either end, or just enjoy a walk anywhere along the middle. The pathways make for easy walking and with much of the river being a busy waterway, there is usually plenty of activity to watch.
Stopping at the Thames Barrier, the trail doesn’t follow the whole of the river’s journey but follows a good deal of it, and as it goes along you see changes in the river. At one end it’s a narrow rural waterway, and at the other, a massive expanse of industry and commerce.
St Michael’s Mount – Cornwall (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Southern England)
St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall is a small tidal island in Mount’s Bay. The island is a civil parish linked to the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway which is passable between mid-tide and low water. Managed by the National Trust, the castle and chapel have been home to the St Aubyn family since around 1650 but the earliest buildings on the summit date back to the 12th century.
You can stroll across the causeway at low tide to the island of St Michael’s Mount and setting out from the beachfront at the Godolphin Arms it takes just minutes to walk across the ancient cobble causeway. The village and its bustling harbour make it an idyllic place to wander, whatever the season and be sure to try some of the local ice cream and cream teas on offer on the island (they are delicious!)