Britain's winter wanderland
Start at Lower Oddington, a village in the valley of River Evenlode. Follow the scenic main street as it veers northwards, then take a right on the not-so-scenic A436 and walk a short distance on the footpath. Once you’ve crossed the railway bridge, turn left onto the first unmarked country road, which leads past a small lake. After passing the lake, take the footpath on the right, which leads across fields and into the tiny village of Adlestrop, with its pretty, honey-coloured cottages. From the church, a track leads through the grounds of Adlestrop House – the inspiration for Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Continue on the path for around 400 metres, past the cricket pitch, until an unmarked footpath forks right away from the main track. Follow this right fork to the road, back over the railway bridge and into Lower Oddington.
The Fox Inn is the only choice, and luckily it’s one of the area’s best pubs. Parts of the building are 400 years old, but it’s not rough around the edges – this is the Cotswolds after all. Warm yourself by the fire in the bar or one of the smaller rooms before heading through to the restaurant, where meals include Cotswold lamb with slow-cooked courgettes in garlic, steak and kidney pie, and guinea fowl with roast mushrooms and Madeira. Walkers are asked to take their boots off – even mud from Mansfield Park shouldn’t be dropped on the floor here.
The Fox Inn is open every day (mains from £11). The pub also has three rooms (from £75).
For more walks through the Cotswolds, see nationaltrail.co.uk/cotswold.
Cornwall: The shore and the ship
Cornwall in the summertime is often busy, but in winter there’s less crowding and its possible to more fully experience the county’s salty, Wild West character and a sense of its history as a separate nation perched on the edge of England. A great way to enjoy the windswept landscape here is by taking an exhilarating stroll along the coast near the little fishing village of Mousehole, between Penzance and Land’s End. The main feature on this walk is, of course, the sea – the path sometimes crosses the clifftops overlooking the waves, passing granite outcrops topped by balancing boulders, while in other sections it hugs the side of the cliffs with slabs and rock towers below.
Start next to the harbour in Mousehole and head southwards along the coast, then following on from the path along Grenfell St, turn right onto Keigwen Place and left onto Chapel St. You’ll soon see signs for the South West Coast Path – at over 600 miles, it’s Britain’s longest national trail, stretching from Minehead on the edge of Exmoor National Park around the coast to Poole Harbour in Dorset. Still, just a brief taste of it will be fine for today. This out-and-back route gives you a couple of options. If the wind’s roaring off the Atlantic, then half a mile might do before you turn around and head back to Mousehole. But if you hit one of those beautiful winter days when the sea is calm and the sky is blue, continue along the coast path for about two miles until it curves into the hidden bay and tiny old harbour of Lamorna Cove. Then retrace your steps for a whole new set of vistas; if conditions are good, you can see all the way to the island monastery of St Michael’s Mount on the other side of Penzance.