There are many reasons to get out on a winter walk in January when daylight hours are few and all the more precious for it.

Fresh air and the simple movement of limbs is so important for our wellbeing, especially at this time of year.

However, when the days can be grey and the going distinctly muddy, we sometimes need an extra push to encourage us to appreciate the sculptural natural beauty revealed by winter.

Across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, there are many different walks to suit your mood and the moment.

The National Trust has buggy-friendly winter wanders with Percy the Park Keeper if you need to get out of the house with little ones, long hikes over rolling hills for mindful meanders or country estate walks for waxed-jacket-and-wellies escapism.

Some of the walks are across countryside looked after by the National Trust but they don’t require membership to access. There are woodland walks for drizzly days, pub walks for a social get-together and riverside walks for reflective moods.

So pull on your boots, wrap up warm and make the most of the season in all its stark beauty.

Best for littlish legs

Cliveden woodland play trail

You can reach the woodland play trail along Green Drive from the main car park at Cliveden or from the woodland car park, or do the circular walk below.

Nestling amongst the trees there are log stepping stones, balance beams, a rope swing, den building and Clive’s Den – a wooden den big enough for the whole family. The woodlands are wonderful to explore and there are some fantastic views through wintry trees to the river below.

There are also picnic tables and toilets nearby in the ‘woodland lounge’.

Best for designed views and monuments

Stowe’s ‘A garden undressed’ walk

  • Buckingham
  • 2 miles, easy terrain
  • Buggy and wheelchair friendly
  • Dogs welcome on leads
  • Normal admission applies
  • Café at Stowe

‘Capability’ Brown knew a thing or two about a good view. You can see his carefully designed landscape at Stowe, studded with temples and monuments to draw the eye. One of the most famous (and instagrammed) is the Palladian bridge. It’s a magical spot for photos in winter as the sun lowers in the golden hour before the garden closes for the evening.

This walk also highlights the natural beauty of winter, suggesting trees to note and places to look out for woodpeckers dip-dipping over the meadows by Eleven Acre Lake.

Typical Chilterns – pretty village, wood and meadow

Bradenham beech woods, bunkers and ballroom

This meander through woodland then meadow and farmland starts in the pretty Chiltern village of Bradenham. The landscape is a classical Chiltern blend of hills topped with beech woodlands, and gently rolling valleys with a mixture of grazed and ploughed fields divided by hedgerows.

The walk offers a variety of glimpses into the deep and varied history of this part of the Chilterns, ranging from ancient earthworks to war-time bunkers and ballrooms. At the end, if you walk down the hill to the T-junction with the main road, there’s a café in the Red Lion serving perfect fare for walkers.

The traditional country estate

The boundary walk at Hughenden

This walk starts at Hughenden manor and follows the outer boundary of the Hughenden estate. You’ll explore typical beech Chilterns woodland, open farmland, managed parkland and a rare chalk stream.

The walk takes you up to the D’Israeli monument where you can look back at Hughenden manor from across the valley. It’s a lovely view in any season but particularly magical if there’s frost or a dusting of snow on the ground.

You can get lunch or a hot chocolate and cakes at Hughenden when you return.

Best for birdwatching

Watlington Hill short walk

Winter is a great season for birdwatching as new visitors arrive from even chillier climes in Northern Europe and Russia. Plus, they’re easier to see without leaves on the trees.

Watlington Hill is a great spot to see birds of prey like buzzards, kestrels and sparrowhawks hunting the grassland.

The views over the Oxfordshire vale go on for miles and off the edge of hill, silhouetted against a blue sky you’ll see the ubiquitous red kites and often ravens tumbling and sweeping on the thermals in extraordinary air displays.

Winter visitors include bullfinches, waxwings and redwings chattering noisily in the thorn trees, especially if a buzzard or red kite is around.