Winter walks for families

Winter walks for families
Head off and explore a winter wonderland (Photo: WTML/Brian Aldrich)

There’s no need to go into hibernation just because it’s chilly outside. The woods can be a fab place to walk in winter – especially on Boxing Day when they glitter with that special Christmas magic! When the trees are bare you can really appreciate the amazing architecture of their branches, and it makes it a whole lot harder for wildlife to hide from you! So pull on your wellies and woollies and get out there!

Find a wintry wood

Wading through mud and splashing in puddles can be great fun. But you may want to look for a wood with surfaced paths to make walking easier, especially if you’re taking a buggy. Check out our pick of buggy-friendly woods around the UK – they have loads to entertain kids all year round. If they’re miles from where you live, don’t worry. You can search for a wood near you with suitable paths.

Boxing Day walks

There’s no better way to work off your yummy Christmas dinner than heading out on a woodland wander. So wrap up warm in your cosiest coat and snuggest boats, and make the most of the festive season.

Spot glistening holly berries, frosted spider webs and singing robins, and break up frozen puddles to build wintry ice towers.

Winter wildlife

You may think that the woods will be quiet during winter, but nothing could be further from the truth! There’s loads to spot and do at this time of year – you just need to keep your eyes peeled…

Wildlife tracking

Foxes, badgers, deer and even otters… they’re all out and about in winter, and it’s a great time to look for their tracks as the vegetation has died back and the ground is often soft. Become a tracking expert with our animal track ID, and check out our winter tracking blog for more tips and ideas.

Winter visitors

Look out for migratory birds, such as the redwing and fieldfare, who fly here to escape the bitter winters of Iceland and Scandinavia. The redwing is a small, brown thrush with a rusty-red patch on each side and a cream stripe above and below its eyes. The fieldfare is bigger with a chestnut-coloured back, grey head, black tail and white ‘armpits’.

Swans, ducks and geese migrate to the UK for winter too. If there’s a pond or lake near you, it’s sure to be full of squawking and squabbling wildfowl, and the colourful feathers of drakes (male ducks) are often at their best at this time of year. Don’t feed them bread though. Oats, bird seed mix, defrosted frozen peas, or chopped vegetable peel are much healthier.

Scavenger hunt

Running around hunting for things is a great way to keep warm. See if you can find all of these:

  • an evergreen tree
  • a holly bush with red berries
  • a nibbled pine cone
  • a fungus (don’t touch it as some are poisonous)
  • a feather
  • a flower (some are still out in winter)
  • a tree trunk with a ‘face’
  • a leaf skeleton.

Pack a winter picnic

Yes, really! Who says picnics are just for summer? And there’s nothing like a brisk winter walk to help you work up an appetite. Cheese toasties or jacket potatoes will stay warm for a couple of hours if wrapped in foil and a tea towel, or placed in an insulating bag.

A warming soup always goes down well too. Or why not treat yourself to a flask of white hot chocolate? This recipe makes enough for four people. You will need:

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g of white chocolate, chopped into small pieces.

Just stir all the ingredients together in a saucepan until it’s piping hot and all the chocolate has melted. Then pour it straight into a flask. Make sure you take along some marshmallows to top it off. Yum!

Check out our other winter picnic ideas to help you plan your outdoor feast.

Don’t forget to tell us about your favourite wood for winter walks, and post some pictures, on our Facebook page, or on Instagram or Twitter using #NatureDetectives.

What's your favourite winter walk?

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