We did lots of historical things and many typical touristy things during our months in the UK, but some of our very favorite adventures were the nature walks we took as a family.
Anytime I looked for a nature walk, I wanted it to be doable with a toddler and a baby. I had to be able to either push the stroller/buggy or carry Caroline on my back without too much exertion. We’re not big hikers, and we brought only all-purpose (though waterproof) shoes, so we didn’t want to go too far off the beaten path. In fact all of these had a clear path on which to walk, though some were rougher paths than others. In fact, I’m limiting this list specifically to walks, not forests and gardens where we went and stayed generally in one area.
We purchased National Trust passes which gave us access to a lot of the places we wanted to see. (We got a year’s pass through the Royal Oak Foundation, which is the only way Americans can purchase a year’s pass, but tourists can also get one or two week passes directly through the National Trust. If you go through Royal Oak, be sure to do an online search for a discount code.) We did not purchase English Heritage passes, though I considered it.
So, without further ado, from the Scottish Isles down to the south coast of England, here are 12 of our favorite family walks in the UK:
- The Quairang, Isle of Skye, Scotland (free)
You can read more about our amazing adventure on the Isle of Skye here. This walk had a rough dirt path and is not stroller/buggy friendly. Spectacular cliffside views!
- Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis, Scotland (free)
This walk has a gravel path which is stroller/buggy friendly and multiple woodland paths that are not stroller friendly. The Lews Castle walk overlooks lovely Stornoway Harbour. (You can also go inside the castle, and there’s a nice little museum, gift shop, and cafe in there.)
- Hadrian’s Wall at Housesteads Fort, England (free; the fort costs $ or is free with National Trust or English Heritage, but you can walk the wall, which is outside the fort, for free–however, you’ll want to go into the fort)
This walk (and the fort) are not stroller/buggy friendly. After exploring the fort, we really enjoyed walking along the top of Hadrian’s Wall. The kids pretended they were soldiers.
- Tarn Hows, English Lake District (free; $ for parking or free parking with National Trust)
This circular gravel walk is stroller/buggy friendly. The older kids climbed around off the path. Be sure to bring small coinage with you to add to the “money trees!” Gorgeous quintessential lake district views without requiring scaling a mountain.
- Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire, England ($ or free with National Trust)
Maintained by the National Trust, this amazing ruined abbey with extensive grounds includes self-guided nature trails (bird spotting, etc), a water garden, a deer park, Robin Hood’s Well, and more. Give yourself a whole day to enjoy this place! I did not use a stroller/buggy here, but it could be done with an all-terrain type one, as some places had path and some places we walked through the grass.
- Malvern Hills, England (free)
Walking in the footsteps of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein (overlooking the town where Lewis and his brother Warnie attended boarding school), this gravel walk is stroller/buggy friendly. Starting at the Beacon Road Car Park, it is a bit of an uphill climb (park in the upper lot as it’s less of a climb from there, though you’ll still get your exercise), but the views over England and Wales are spectacular! We did this walk with friends and brought a picnic to eat at the top. Stop at the Lewis brothers’ school on the way out of town.
- Addison’s Walk, Oxford, England ($)
Another C.S. Lewis walk, this circular stroller/buggy friendly gravel path is located within the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford, where Lewis taught. He walked here every day. Magdalen is generally considered the prettiest of the Oxford colleges, and this walk is no exception. Entering from pristinely manicured grounds and gardens, you escape into a wild wooded wonderland following the Cherwell River and surrounding a deer park.
- Blenheim Palace, England ($$)
Though pricey to enter, this is definitely a lovely entire day’s excursion (and you can turn your admission into a year’s pass for no extra charge). Near Oxford, this grand palace boasts extensive grounds, including Italianate water gardens, a maze and playground, and a woodland walk (including a “secret garden”) with a stroller/buggy friendly dirt and gravel path (some extensions of the walk are not buggy friendly, but these are marked clearly on the map).
- Upper Slaughter to Lower Slaughter, Cotswolds, England (free)
This walk was so much fun and really pretty. I can’t imagine anything that says “Cotswolds” better than this. I didn’t take my stroller/buggy on this dirt and grass path, but you probably could with an all-terrain buggy. This walk follows the public footpath (protected public accessways through private property) between two picturesque Cotswolds villages. We started in Upper Slaughter, crossed through gates and sheep pastures, walked along the river, and ended in Lower Slaughter, which is the most pristine “honeypot” village ever. There’s only one shop, at the Mill, where we got homemade ice cream and wandered along the river and around the village before retracing our steps to Upper Slaughter. You can extend your walk to Stow-on-the-Wold, but it’s a big extension. The walk between the Slaughters seemed the right length with young children.
- White Cliffs of Dover, England (free; $ for parking or free parking with National Trust)
This iconic walk was even better than I’d imagined. I wish we’d left more time for it, as we tacked it on to the end of our day exploring Dover Castle (5 minutes away). As you leave the National Trust parking lot, head for the lower path for the best views. This walk is not stroller/buggy friendly, and be prepared to hold tight to little hands (or keep those little ones on your back). This is a cliff walk, after all. And don’t be alarmed if your digital device wants to tell you that you’ve been walking for an hour longer than you think. Our phones thought we were in France (because, yes, you’re that close) and changed time zones mid-walk.
- Pooh-Sticks Bridge Walk, Ashdown Forest, England (free)
Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood, otherwise known as the Ashdown Forest, our kids got to play Pooh-Sticks on the Pooh-Sticks Bridge, spy Owl’s House high in the trees, and climb around in Eeyore’s House (actually, a couple of them). The walk to Pooh-Sticks Bridge is stroller/buggy friendly, and if you stop by the Pooh Corner shop in Hartfield, the proprietor will give you a map of several Pooh-related walks in the forest. This website also directs you to some other Pooh-related sites nearby.
- Blackwater Tall Trees Trail, New Forest, England (free; $ for parking)
One thing you need to know about the New Forest is that, well, a lot of it isn’t a forest. In England, a forest can simply be a designated hunting ground (at least historically), and thus much of the New Forest is heathland with nary a tree in sight. However, after a stroll to Knightwood Oak in Lymington and lots of close ups with the wild ponies, we wanted to find some trees! Fortunately, we found exactly that at the Blackwater Tall Trees Trail in Brockenhurst. This circular dirt path wooded walk is buggy friendly and takes you under the tallest trees in England, giant sequoias. Having just finished Children of the New Forest, my kids played make-believe bows and arrows as they ran ahead of us on the trail. The whole walk evoked the quiet seclusion of an ancient towering forest while still having nice informational trail markers along the way.
The walk we missed:
This is a walk that was high on my list. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it here because our toddler got hit with a bad stomach bug the day we were in this area. I’m determined to go back and do this walk someday, and from my research, it looks very family friendly, though probably not stroller/buggy friendly.
- Pemberley Walk at Lyme Park, Peak District, England ($ or free with National Trust)
We had some other wonderful adventures in nature–some to monuments and around castles, some in our own backyards, and some during our time in the Netherlands. But here I hope I’ve shared with you, specifically, some walks in the UK that are doable for a family with young children. We enjoyed every minute of our time spent in God’s beautiful creation in each of these places.