The best National Trust gardens for a winter walk

The days are getting darker and chillier and you may have plans to stay inside where it’s cosy. But getting out and about can boost your mood, plus frost and beautiful winter-flowering plants mean a walk can be magical this time of year.

The National Trust boasts some stunning gardens that are just as beautiful to explore in winter as they are in the spring and summer. So, pull on your walking boots, winter coat and gloves to visit these gardens.

1. Bodnant Garden, Conwy

Bodnant Garden showcases nearly 50 plants and includes a specifically designed winter garden, guaranteeing colour even during the winter season. But what really sets this garden apart is the backdrop of Snowdonia. The stunning national park, the largest in Wales, is worth exploring at any time of the year, but is well worth a visit when there’s frost or even snow on the ground.

2. Ham House and Garden, Richmond-upon-Thames

Ham House and Garden is a 17th century treasure trove that’s filled with history. In fact, you can join an online audio tour as your stroll around the paths, introducing you to the garden as well as telling you about its history, including the 400-year-old Kitchen Garden. This venue is also home to one of the National Trust’s Silent Spaces. These summerhouses are the perfect place to sit and enjoy the peacefulness of the garden.

3. Anglesey Abbey, Cambridge

Anglesey Abbey features a long, narrow winter garden that is specifically designed to look beautiful at this time of the year with plenty of colour and scent. The garden features many trees, including the Killarney Strawberry tree, which will display strawberry-like fruit in December and Himalayan Silver Birch, known for their dramatic white trunks.

4. Hardwick Hall, Chesterfield

Exploring Hardwick Hall is a must at any time of the year, but during winter the hall and gardens with mature trees can seem even more impressive than when everything is in full bloom. The garden’s high walls can help keep some of the chilly winds away while you stroll along the paths to find yew topiary, winter-flowering honeysuckle and much more. From January, you can also take in a winter garden talk on certain days.

5. Dunham Massey, Cheshire

The Dunham Massey winter garden is the largest of its kind in the UK. Filled with winter flowers, striking silver birches and colourful berries, it’ll brighten up any winter day. At seven acres, there are plenty of paths to wander along. The garden officially opened in 2009 and aims to retain its historic woodland feel while still ensuring there are points of interest throughout winter.

6. Sissinghurst Castle, Cranbrook

When establishing the garden at Sissinghurst in the 1930s, the aim was to create an outdoor space that had something of interest throughout most of the year. As a result, it’s a great place to head to enjoy the colder season too. The woodland area is a great place to explore in winter. You can enjoy guided tours of the South Cottage, and the still standing tower is where famous author, Vita Sackville-West’s writing room was located.

7. Powis Castle, Welshpool

Explore 17th century terraces at Powis Castle, nestled between the picturesque Long Mountain and Breidden Hills. You can really appreciate the geometry and structure of the garden once summer ends. The formal Edwardian garden will take you on a path between 100-year-old apple trees and towering yew hedges. The medieval castle rising above the garden makes it even more impressive.

8. Buckland Abbey, Yelverton

If you’re looking for a walk that takes you through beautiful natural views, Buckland Abbey is ideal. The site boasts three marked paths that will take you through glorious woodland and alongside a river. Be sure to put on your wellies though, the routes can get muddy at this time of the year. The abbey gardens are worth walking around too, offering views across the valley and a glance of what gardens in the Tudor era may have looked like.

There are plenty of other National Trust gardens to take in this winter and you can find out more on the organisation’s website. Keep in mind that some gardens and heritage buildings operate reduced opening hours in the winter and may be affected by Covid-19 restrictions, so be sure to check first.

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