Walking is a national pass time and one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the United Kingdom. This may involve walking in a park, exploring some of the beautiful National Trust homes and gardens, fellwalking in the Lake District, hillwalking in the mountainous areas, hiking in the South Downs and Yorkshire Dales or just rambling on some of the rights of way across private lands.

We both love to walk and with the omicron variant raging through the country, and a National Trust membership that gives us free access to many beautiful, historic sites; we have been able to enjoy some amazing sights and sounds even in the dead of winter. With a work from home directive in place, our Christmas staff party involved an illuminated, evening walk through Leonardslee Gardens and we enjoyed a Christmas day walk with our Global President and his family.

Our favourite activity is to pick a nearby attraction from our National Trust guidebook and take a drive out to see what there is to be discovered. And we have not been disappointed. The winter here is much milder than we are used to, and we are always amazed to see how green and lush it still is in January and by the fact that some plants continue to bloom year-round. This week’s walks took us to Nymans House which is an elegant, stately home that is currently being rebuilt but is surrounded by walkways along tree-lined lanes, hidden gardens accessed through stone archways, beautiful vistas over the Sussex Weald and the surrounding forests and lakes.

Wakehurst is a wild botanical garden with over 500 acres (200 hectares) of beautiful ornamental gardens, woodlands and a nature reserve. It is also the home of the Millenium Seed Bank which houses seed collections, research and plant conservation facilities. The day was a little chilly, hovering around freezing but we had our trusty thermos of coffee so enjoyed the ramble.

Meeting up with some Cayman friends who were flying out of Heathrow gave us a good excuse to wander around Windsor and get a glimpse of the castle where the Queen is currently in residence. We explored the town for a bit but mostly spent the day walking along the Thames with the swans and enjoying tea in an a sun drenched little pub along the river bank. Checked out Eton College campus while we were there. Walking is good for the aging body and a great way to explore the wonders of this country.