7 of Britain’s best garden walks
Combine your love of walking with your passion for gardening
With its rolling hills, gushing rivers and luscious woodlands, there’s more than one reason why Britain is famous for its breathtaking scenery.
From Dr Neil’s Garden in Edinburgh to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond, the Ramblers believes every single person in Britain should be able to enjoy the horticultural inspiration that you can only find when you’re out walking in nature’s playground.
Below, you’ll find a mixture of Ramblers routes and five green havens that any gardener will relish the chance to explore, as well as a couple of gardens that are so large, they almost contain a walking route in themselves.
1. The Savill Garden, Windsor
If you’re looking for a walk that also offers you an insight into the past, then the Old Windsor to Savill Garden Ramblers route is for you. This regal trail takes you through the magnificent Windsor Great Park, before finishing at The Savill Garden. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to stop at the Copper Horse, a monumental statue that stands on Snow Hill where you can enjoy fantastic views of Windsor Castle and the Long Walk.
Since its creation in the 1930s, The Savill Garden has been a source of horticultural inspiration for many. Revered as Britain’s finest ornamental garden, it features 35 acres of interconnected areas including Spring Wood, the New Zealand Garden and the Winter Beds, so there’s a seasonal display to see whatever time of year you visit.
2. Howick Hall Gardens, Northumberland
Starting in the village of Craster, this Ramblers route winds around Northumberland’s Embleton Bay. While the entire walk offers unspoilt views of luscious farmland and sparkling coastline, the highlight is undoubtedly Dunstanburgh Castle. Its ruins still stand stoically over the wild and unruly landscape, which is impressive, given it was built all the way back in the 14th century. While you’re walking through farmland, remember to adhere to the Countryside Code.
After you finish your walk, it’s worth making the short trip to Howick Hall Gardens, which is just a little further south from the end point of your route. It was created by the fifth Earl Grey and his wife in the 20th century, who insisted the grounds be looked after using an informal style of gardening, a stark contrast from the more formal Victorian technique that was considered the norm at the time. It’s best known for its spring bulbs and woodland garden, but there are also borders and rockery that burst into life during the summer months.
3. Dr Neil’s Garden, Edinburgh
Arthur’s Seat is one of Scotland’s most iconic natural landmarks, and it isn’t hard to see why. Located at the end of the Royal Mile in Holyrood Park, it’s hard to believe this ancient volcano is right in the heart of Edinburgh – that is, until you climb to the top and enjoy the incredible views of the charming city. To experience its natural beauty for yourself, simply follow the Arthur’s Seat, Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh Ramblers route.
And, if you’re looking for a scenic place to stop along the way, then make sure to visit Dr Neil’s Garden in the beautiful town of Duddingston. It was created by Doctors Nancy and Andrew Neil in the 20th century, who wanted to cultivate a tranquil sanctuary that offered visitors a reprieve from the city. With its history, and the colourful conifers, heathers, alpines, rhododendrons, azaleas and primulas that populate it, it’s no surprise that this green oasis is often referred to as Edinburgh’s secret garden.
4. Belgrave Hall, Leicester
For a gentle walk that’s perfect for those who don’t have lots of hiking experience, you can’t go wrong with this Ramblers route in Leicester. Starting in Belgrave, the busy city streets soon transform into peaceful river paths, as you meander past the monumental Belgrave Hall and its tranquil grounds. As this route is only two miles long, it can be easily completed in under an hour, which is ideal if you’re looking to build up your stamina without exhausting yourself.
Belgrave Hall is central to Leicester’s heritage, having been home to local figures such as the city’s 18th-century High Sheriff, William Vann, and John Ellis, who was instrumental in introducing the railway to Leicester in 1833. Today, you can explore the beautiful building and its surrounding walled gardens, where you’ll find breathtaking yew trees and wisteria that were planted by the Ellis family more than 150 years ago.
5. Plas Newydd, Wales
From its breathtaking coastal landscapes to its luscious wetlands, Wales offers endless opportunities to immerse yourself in beautiful, rugged scenery. And, when you follow the Ramblers route that takes you along Anglesey’s Coastal Path – now part of the 870-mile Wales Coast Path – you’ll get to see the very best of it. The trail starts in the quaint town of Almwch and takes you past beaches, dunes, impressive rock formations and harbours.
If you’re keen to explore more of Wales’s natural beauty, then keep heading south until you reach Plas Newydd House and Gardens. With a Grade I-listed landscape consisting of 40 acres of garden and 129 acres of woodland, it’s truly a gardener’s paradise. It’s got a huge variety of displays including an arboretum filled with unusual plants from the southern hemisphere, such as the scarlet Chilean Flame Tree, and a summer wildflower meadow bursting with rare orchids, which has been awarded Coronation Meadow status.
Although the following gardens aren’t connected to any official Ramblers routes, they are exceptionally beautiful, and are also so large that you can stretch your legs while you explore the horticultural offerings…
6. The Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park
Nestled in the heart of Richmond Park, you’ll find the vibrant Isabella Plantation, a 40-acre woodland garden set within a Victorian woodland that was created in the 1830s. It’s famous for its evergreen azaleas which line the ponds and streams, but it also boasts large collections of rhododendrons and camelias, as well as many exotic plants, which grow alongside the native species.
The perimeter and shelterbelt areas are decorated with an abundance of nectar and berry bearing trees and shrubs to provide food and shelter for the birds, bats and insects that call this colourful paradise home.
7. The Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
With more than 1,000 ancient and veteran trees across its 2,000-acre woodland, the Ashridge Estate has more than any other National Trust property. Most of it is designated as a Special Area of Conservation for lowland beech woodland and as a Site of Scientific Interest, and it supports a community of insects that have been deemed internationally significant.
In this enchanting woodland, you’ll also find coniferous and broadleaved plantations, five registered commons, remnant wood pasture and large areas of secondary birch woodland. It’s truly a magical place where you can come and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
We’ve got ideas for hundreds of wonderful walking routes across England, Scotland and Wales, long and short, easy and challenging. Search for routes on our website. Or join a guided walk with a local Ramblers group. Find your nearest Ramblers group and choose a walk that suits your pace, fitness and interests.
Spring is a time for renewal for all kinds of British wildlife, and you could see some extraordinary fauna on your next ramble
Spring sees the countryside bloom into life with flowers of all shades, so see what delights you can spot next time you lace up your walking boots