Courier Life

Three winter walks, runs or cycles

There are plenty of green spaces to explore around in the winter. Go Jauntly, an app that encourages walking, shared a few routes with Courier. Two in London, one in the Peak District, and all perfect for a run, walk or cycle.

23 Dec 2016

A wild cemetery with an incredible view

Nunhead, South East London (approx 1 hr)

Bring your wellies and a flask along to this peaceful jaunt in a local nature reserve and little known but beautiful Victorian cemetery in London. Look out for famous graves and diverse wildlife as you climb the hill and discover the secret framed view of a great London landmark. There’s parking and the nearest train station is Nunhead.


Step 1: Park up outside the grand main gates on Linden Grove or take a short walk from Nunhead station. Make your way up the main path towards the Anglican chapel. The chapel is now in ruins but often holds exhibitions and events.

Step 2: Head right up the hill along the tree lined path. Keep an eye out for magpies and blackcaps in the trees. Turning right halfway up the hill you can go off the beaten track and go in between the trees.

Step 3: Continuing up the woodland path, pass by the log stacks and past the fenced-off pond on your right. The path narrows alongside some smaller gravestones.

Step 4: As the trail weaves back out to the main path, take the steep path to the right of the grand Friggin family vault. Other famous graves are on route, including the huge John Allen tomb, apparently the most expensive monument in the cemetery.  There’s also some rather stunning decorative stonework on some of the tombs, like the Romanesque-style Stearns’ mausoleum.

Step 5: When you finally make it to the top of the hill, have a rest on the bench and take in the framed view of St Paul’s Cathedral. When you’re ready to go again, make you way back downhill past the huge conker tree –usually filled with local parakeets.

Step 6: Take either path at the fork at the bottom of the hill. Left takes you off the beaten track, while staying right keeps you on the main path. The path brings you back towards the main gates, passing the Scottish Martyrs monument.


Tunnels and dales at Monsal Head 

Bakewell, Peak District (approx 2hrs)

A wonderful circular and traffic-free journey through 350 million years of geological history, via the tunnels of the former Derby to Manchester railway. Walk, run or cycle past muddy trails, bridges and viaducts and enjoy Victorian and Georgian architecture surrounded by nature, woodland and wildlife. There’s a pub and cafe at the start too.

Step 1: Begin your walk at the Monsal Head Hotel. Cross the road to the viewpoint and look for a gap in the wall. Take the path to the right, towards “Monsal Viaduct”.  Keep going down the hill, joining the Monsal Trail at the mouth of the Headstone Tunnel. This was the site of the former Monsal Head station before the railway closed in 1968.

Step 2: Turn right, leaving the Headstone tunnel behind you.  Walking towards Wye Dale, follow the trail over the Headstone Viaduct. A feat of Victorian engineering, the viaduct is 300 feet long and has five 50-foot span arches.


Step 3: Before too long, you will reach Cressbrook Tunnel, with Cressbrook Mill down to the right. Head into the tunnel for a 430m weaving path through limestone.

Step 4: On exiting the tunnel, there’s a short section of trackbed cut into a steep slope that has wonderful views down into Miller’s Dale. Continue along the trail and onto the short deep cutting that forms the entrance to the Litton Tunnel which is 471m in length and curves gently west before exiting out into Miller’s Dale, close to Litton Mill. You will spot the old mill through the trees. 

Step 5: Just before the bridge, leave the Monsal trail via a footpath on the right, signposted Litton. Pass  beneath a fallen tree and then cross the bridge and pass through the buildings on the other side into the village.

Step 6: Follow the road to the right and pass through the gates of the old mill. Litton Mill was a notorious cotton mill that first opened in 1782. On passing the main mill building, bear right and then left, rejoining the river path and follow it.

Step 7: You are now in the ancient ash woodland nature reserve of Cramside Wood. Eventually the path narrows and enters Water-Cum-Jolly Dale, bordered on one side by the river Wye and on the other by the steep rock face. Continue along the path through the Dale until a wooden footbridge is reached over the leat that used to provide water to the mill.

Step 8: Cross the next bridge across the noisy weir and then take the steps. You will rejoin the Monsal Trail by the entrance to Cressbrook Tunnel next to the mill. Turn left and retrace your steps to the next bridge.  You can continue at this point along the viaduct and back to the start.


Christmas at Kew Gardens

Kew, South West London (approx ?? hours)

For a total Christmas treat, head down to Kew Gardens for a winter wander through this famous botanical garden. From Victorian glasshouses andJapanese pagodas to Treetop walkways, it’s a joy.

Step 1: Start your walk at Kew Gardens Station, taking a right and walking over the footbridge. You should now be standing on Layton Place, a lovely residential street with shops (and coffee).

Step 2: Continue straight ahead down Lichfield Road until you reach The Victoria Gate, one of four gates and the closest to Kew Gardens Station. You can collect or buy tickets to visit Kew Gardens here.

Step 3: When you enter the gardens, head to the right and explore the wonderful Palm House, described as ‘one of the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structures in the world’. Don’t forget to check out the marine aquarium in the basement.

Step 3:  After taking the rear exit fromthe Palm House, follow the long straight path (Syon Vista) directly ahead towards the lake and check out the Henry Moore sculpture. After this, veer left towards the treetop walkway.

Step 4: After those dizzying heights, head south towards the Japanese gateway for a rest. Here, you can see an example of a traditional Japanese temple, a replica of one that exists in Kyoto, a Pagoda and a beautifully serene Zen rock garden.

Step 5: To get to the next point of interest, a viewing point at the west side of the park overlooking the Thames, you could take a direct route up Cedar Vista, or amble through Redwood Grove for a more rural experience.


Step 6: Follow the path along the west side of the Gardens towards White Peaks Cafe and Shop. Along this path you’ll start to see signs for the Christmas at Kew light trail. If you have little ones, Treehouse Towers or Climbers and Creepers playgrounds are a must.

Step 7: Afterwards, head over to the Orangery restaurant for some well-deserved refreshments. After this, if you continue down Broad Walk away from the Orangery you should start to see Palm House in the distance, bringing you back to where you started.