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Christmas Holly...with Flowers not Berries

Unseasonably warm weather across the whole of the UK is leading to some unusual sights for December walkers. With temperatures set to remain in double figures for at least another week, nature is one confused lady.

hollyflowersSome plants are being tricked into an early spring. Daffodils and snowdrops bulbs are surfacing and blooming in many places and, in some woodlands, the bluebells are already shooting through the soil surface. Blossom is reported to be appearing on some trees, even as far north as parts of Scotland, and holly in the Royal Botanic Gardens is currently in flower, rather than being decked with festive red berries.  Other plants are still clinging to the feel of a (very) later summer and you don’t need to look far to see garden roses still in full bloom.


The National Trust says this mild spell may actually be good news for animals which would typically go into hibernation because it gives them more time to prepare for the upcoming winter. For walkers, remember that the warmth is helping to extend the season for insects...there are still biting beasts about like ticks and midges, so keep your arms and legs covered.


If you’re combining a town walk with a festive market, you might be disappointed on the ice skating front. The warm weather is rather dampening the Christmas spirit with the chillers for outdoor ice rinks struggling to turn the giant puddles into a winter scene. It’s not all bad news for the festive season. The higher-than-normal temperatures have led to a bumper crop of sprouts and has made them much larger than normal!


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Saturday, 24 March 2018
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The length of our walking guides is given in miles and rounded to the nearest full mile (whole number) for simplicity. For short walks (of less than 2 miles) or walks that have a length that ends in .5, a more accurate walk length may be given in the first section of the walk introduction. For example, the Length in the header may be listed as 6 miles, and the introduction may confirm that the exact length of the walk is 5.5 miles. The walk length is calculated from the GPS file that was created by the walk author GPS tracking the walk whilst walking, using the iFootpath App GPS Tracker, meaning it is very accurate. Our bespoke tracker is particularly detailed and plots a walkers position about every 10 seconds. The tracker is calibrated to match two other reputable map and walking sources, Ordnance Survey and Nike. As with all standardised walk and map lengths, the distance does not take account of hills and slopes, just the distance you would measure using a piece of string on a flat map version of the terrain, so hilly walks will feel longer than stated. If you track the route using another GPS App or Tracker App or Fitness Device, you can expect the distance you record to be different due to different calibrations. This is particularly true of those Apps and devices that count your motion and steps – these can only guess the distance you have travelled with each step and so are much less accurate.

Grade (Boots)

The grade of a walk is an indicator of how difficult the terrain is that you will encounter along the way. This does not take into account the walk length but does suggest how challenging the walk will be. It takes into account things like hills, path surfaces and obstacles (like stiles, gates, steps and rock scrambles). An easy walk, graded as 1 (and shown as 1 Boot) indicates a walk that is essentially flat, has no sharp hills to climb, has no stiles, is easy to navigate (probably along a well-worn path) and is suitable for most levels of fitness. A difficult walk, graded as 5 (and represented by 5 Boots) indicates a walk that is strenuous and involves steep ascents and/or descents. It may be technically challenging involving difficult terrain or obstacles that require scrambling with your hands. Please note that the grading for walks is subjective and open to interpretation and should only be used as a guide when selecting a walk.

NOTE: Do be aware that the level of stamina required for any walk will vary depending on both the walk length and the difficulty grade - you should only walk within your limits.

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