Heritage homes: winter walks

A breezy walk in the country is so much nicer if it includes wandering around someone else's large beautiful garden or fine old estate. National Trust houses are largely closed at this time of year, but you can still visit many of the grounds - and their welcoming tearooms
Claremont Landscape Garden
© National Trust
Claremont Landscape Garden
The more adventurous can even head to the hills to discover fascinating woods, commons and open heathland with breathtaking views. Here is a taste of what's on offer if you head out of London to Surrey...

Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher, Surrey


You can admire a stunning lake, complete with an island with a romantic pavilion. Other delights include a grotto and a turf amphitheatre, as well as many wonderful views.
* Open all year, closes at dusk. Shop and tearoom closed until 13 January. Call 01372 467806.

Box Hill, Surrey


This area offers a tramp through woods and across chalk downs, following nature trails, and spectacular views towards the South Downs.
* Open all year. Shop, tearoom and information centre are also open but close at dusk, and are closed on 25 and 26 December and 1 January. Call 01306 742809 or 01306 888793.

Walks at Polesden Lacey
© National Trust / John Miller
Walks at Polesden Lacey

Leith Hill, Dorking, Surrey


A rambling, rugged patch of land offers exhilarating walks through woods and heaths, and around extensive farmland. There is even a tower, which is open on Saturdays and Sundays. You can buy a guide detailing two circular trails from a dispenser for a modest £1.
* Wood and estate are open all year. Call 01306 711777.

Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham, near Dorking, Surrey


On a leisurely visit, you can take a variety of gentle walks around elegant well-kept gardens and tidily landscaped park. At various points, you will catch your breath at sweeping valley views across the North Downs.
* Garden, shop and tearoom re-open on 3 January, closing each day at dusk. Call 01372 452048.

River Wey
© National Trust / John Miller
River Wey

River Wey Navigations and Dapdune Wharf, Guildford, Surrey


For a soothing watery wander, take this friendly towpath for a superb walk through some of the most beautiful countryside in Surrey. It is easily accessible - and if you are particularly tenacious, you can complete 20 miles of flat, easy walking from Godalming to Weybridge (but possibly not all in one go). The more ambitious explorer can buy a book of circular walks around the Navigations from the Navigations Office at Dapdune Wharf and Thames Lock in Weybridge.
* Open during daylight all year round. Call 01483 561389.

Winkworth Arboretum
© National Trust
Winkworth Arboretum

Hindhead Commons and The Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey


Take in the stunning views of the famous Devil's Punch Bowl and Hindhead Common - within just 50 yards of the café (which is conveniently open all year except for 25 and 26 December and 1 January.) The more persistent - and energetic - visitor can buy leaflets featuring maps and local walks.
* Open all year. Call 01428 608771.

The Witley Centre
© National Trust
The Witley Centre

Winkworth Arboretum, Godalming, Surrey


Winkworth boasts a lake, wetland area, boat-house and extensive woodland spreading over the side of a hill. Its award-winning collection of more than 1,000 different shrubs and trees includes many rare ones. These shelter a charming abundance of wildlife. The shop and tearoom re-open on 6 January, but only on Saturday and Sunday. Buy a walks leaflet and become a serious tree-spotter.
* Open all year. Call 01483 208477.

The Witley Centre, Godalming


This much-loved common is a fascinating mix of woodland and heath. Discover new territory through one of the walks leaflets available at the shop.
* Open all year. Call 01428 683207.

For more outdoor options, and to check details of dates and times, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

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