Jeff Porter takes you on a ramble through acres of autumn colour, from Coniston Water in the north to Langdon Hill in Dorset.
CONISTON TO TORVER JETTY, CUMBRIA
Difficulty: Easy • Dog-friendly pub: The Ship Inn at Coniston, 015394 41224 • Distance: 4.3 miles, or 2.2 miles if you catch the boat • Start/end: Lake Road car park at Coniston Boating Centre – grid ref. SD 305973
Route: Walk back up Lake Road along the smooth, stone footpath on the left. Cross the bridge and go through the business units to a double kissing gate, wide enough for wheelchairs and pushchairs. A track leads to more gates and Coniston Hall Farm, where you can look in awe at the huge chimneys. Follow the tarmac road around the camp site pole barrier and head south through another gateway. After a second left turn, there is a small copse of trees on the right and you approach a wicket gate, giving access to the shore. Over the lake are the wooded slopes of Grizedale Forest and the imposing house is Brantwood, home of John Ruskin, the eminent Victorian writer, artist and social reformer. Look back, and you can see Coniston Old Man towering over the village. Pass through a double kissing gate and cross a footbridge to Hoathwaite. The route follows a track inland and bears left to two gates and into Torver Common Wood. After 500 metres, cross the footbridge to Torver jetty, where you can take a boat back to Coniston or retrace your steps.
ESTATE WALK AT SHEFFIELD PARK, SUSSEX
Difficulty: Moderate • Distance/time: 3 miles (1 hour 30 mins) • Dog-friendly pub: The Laughing Fish at Uckfield, 01825 750349 • Map: Trail map for parkland walk at Sheffield Park • Start/end: Sheffield Park car park, TQ413239
Route: Starting facing away from visitor reception, cross the car park and enter the parkland through the kissing gate. Bear slightly left across the parkland following the grass path, following signs to Ringwood Toll. Head through the two kissing gates and to the left of the stag-headed oak. After the gate, follow the path to the pedestrian gate in the middle of the forested area ahead and enter Ringwood Toll. Passing the carving of the Green Man, turn
left and follow the main path through the play trail. Follow the main trail around in a semi-circle exiting past the rope swing, past the stock gate on the left. Exit onto the parkland through the next pedestrian gate on the left. Join the path going right, go through the pedestrian gate and head slightly left pasttwo benches.
Turn left downhill towards the gates and bridge – pass over the Hammerdick stream. Bear left and follow alongside the stream, past the hollow oak.
Turn left out of the floodplains at the next bridge, passing through the pedestrian gate. Head up hill slightly out of the trees and head right along the path, keeping the trees on your left-hand side, towards a flat bridge ahead.
Continue along the route, along the level ground, towards the Pillbox and pond.
Continue straight ahead through the pedestrian gate, follow ahead and enter Skyglade through a gate on the left and have a go at cloud watching. Exit via the same gate, turn left and follow the path along the outside fence-line of Skyglade. At the end of Skyglade, continue straight ahead to the double metal gates out of the parkland.
Turn right and follow the track. Cross the weir into East Park. After the bench, bear right into the wooded area.
At the first fork in the path within the woodland, turn right. Follow around to re-join two main tracks – turn left down the farther track on the other side of a fenced grassland area. Keep following the track around as it curves to the left, with the cricket pitch to your right and head back to the bottom of the lake. Follow the track back up to the car park from which you can head to the garden, tearoom or shop.
THE NORTH TASTE TRAIL, NEW FOREST
Difficulty: Moderate • Distance: 15 miles • Dog-friendly pub: The Royal Oak Pub at Fritham, 02380 812606 • Start: The Hyde-out Café, Hyde Garden Centre, SP6 2QB
Route: Turn right out of the tea room and take the first right and follow the road. There is a row of houses on the left hand side.
At the brow of the hill, turn left down the gravel track, then bear right along the track, which will lead you to Abbotswell car park.
Join the off road cycle network at Abbotswell car park (post 4), which takes you across the Hampton Ridge and leads you to Fritham village (post 14), a good spot to see the pigs out for Pannage Season. After exploring this little hamlet, head over to The Royal Oak pub for lunch.
Alternatively, turn left onto the road at the end the village of Fritham and follow the road down the hill to Eyeworth Car Park. Eyeworth pond is an ideal picnic spot to feed the ducks your left over crusts.
When you are ready, pick up the path at the far end of the car park and stay on it until you reach the main road (B3078). Turn left and follow the road (Roger Penny Way) to Fordingbridge.
Heading now to Fordingbridge where the medieval stone bridge in with its seven fine arches provides the crossing point in the small ancient town on the banks of the river Avon. Turn right out of the Fighting Cocks and continue along Southampton Road (B3078), which merges into Bridge Street. Follow the road round to the left into High Street.
Make your way back out of Fordingbridge towards Godshill, at the petrol station turn right and then turn left into Stuckton Road (signed to Stuckton). Carry on along the road and when you get to the cross roads go straight across into Abbots Well Road which will bring you back to Abbotswell car park.
LANGDON HILL WALK, DORSET
Start/end: Langdon Hill car park, grid ref: SY412930 • Difficulty: Easy • Dog-friendly pub: The George Inn in nearby Chideock, 012957 489419 • Distance: 1.4 miles (30–45 mins) • Map: Explorer 116
Route: From the car park, go through the gate signposted towards Golden Cap. Follow
the main path around the side of the hill. The clearings on the left as you follow the track around give magnificent views over Chideock and the surrounding West Dorset countryside. The small coastal hamlet of Seatown lies where the river Winniford meets the coast and Thorncombe Beacon is clearly visible on the cliffs beyond.
Take the second path that leads off the main track, and bear right along the narrower path. Continue on the path, which runs almost parallel below the main track. Over to the left, you can glimpse Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast at a towering 191 metres.
It gets its colour from minerals in the rock that glisten a rusty-gold in the sunlight. Continue on this lower path until it naturally heads uphill to rejoin the main track. As you walk, look down into the fields below. This is a great place to spot farm birds like the lapwing, linnet and skylark. When you reach the main track, bear left and follow the track back to the car park, pausing first to take a seat on the bench nearby and admire the view of the unspoilt Marshwood Vale, including the impressive Hardown Hill near Morecombe lake.