walking in the countryside

6 ways to blow away the cobwebs in the north

by Jim Coulson

Christmas is the time of the year when normal diet and exercise regimes fall by the wayside. The rest of the year you might wake up and perform a few crunches to get you going, but at yuletide you are more likely to devour a few Crunchies instead. This means that, once the festivities are over, you often crave something to revitalise mind and spirit, activities that make you feel good and pull you out of the food and drink induced slump of December.

How to blow away the cobwebs in Lancashire

Lancashire is a fine place to blow away the Christmas cobwebs, to inspire you to be more active, to make you feel human again and, most importantly, give you an excuse to get out of that stuffy, cramped room packed with the majority of the members of your extended family. Turn off the Bond film, throw aside that box of Black Magic and head out into the Lancastrian winter to shock yourself back to life!


Pendle Hill

Pendle Hill is one of the most iconic sights in Lancashire. Once you reach the top, provided the weather is reasonably kind to you, you are welcomed by a panorama of lifeaffirming views that are a hundred times more engaging than the endless repeats that have plagued your TV over the past fortnight. On a good day (and, yes, you do get some in winter – clear, if a little parky), you can see the fells of the Lake District and even Blackpool Tower if you are lucky.

If you are interested in the history of the area too, the Pendle Sculpture Trail is a memorial to those unfortunate Pendle residents who were famously hanged as witches four centuries ago. It is the perfect excuse to head out into the great outdoors once again.


Ribble Valley

The Ribble Valley is another of Lancashire’s rural treasures. There are multiple different walking options to help blow away the Christmas cobwebs in the fresh and bracing January air.

The Tolkien Trail starts and ends in Hurst Green and takes in locations around where the Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien stayed on a regular basis. At just five miles it is short enough to be achievable even with a belly still groaning full of turkey.

There are plenty of historical buildings and landmarks to take in as you stride around the circular route, not to mention the beauty of the Lancastrian countryside which is an ever present on this revitalising trek.


Crosby Beach

There is nothing like the sea air to make you feel human and alive again. From Formby to Fleetwood, Southport to St Annes, you could acquire your coastal fix in any one of the resorts the county has to offer, but Crosby has that added extra element to make it a truly special post-Christmas pick-me-up.

Since 2005, Crosby beach has been the home of Another Place, an art installation by the sculptor of the Angel of the North, Antony Gormley. The piece consists of 100 cast iron figures. Some stand on top of the sand, others are buried within it and all stare hauntingly out to sea. If you have received a new phone or camera for Christmas, these sculptures will be a welcome addition to your all new and improved Instagram feed.

How to blow away the cobwebs in Yorkshire

When you’ve polished off the last of the Quality Street, drained the dregs of the advocaat and patiently reached the bottom of the leftover turkey mountain, it is time to give your body a break and where better to do so than Yorkshire? Within the borders of the White Rose County, you will find an array of opportunities to blow away the festive cobwebs and cleanse your body and soul. A


Ilkley Moor

The stunning countryside that inspired Yorkshire’s county anthem is the perfect place to remind yourself of the last time you felt human and not just a one person eating and drinking machine. The wind whips and nips at you as you trudge across the moorland above the sedate spa town and you soon come to realise why one is best advised not to set off for the day baht’at (‘without adequate headgear’, for non-local speakers).

You can gaze down the Wharfe Valley towards Almscliffe Crag and beyond, turn west for an eyeful of the foothills of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and climb high to steal a view of the giant golf balls of Menwith Hill beyond Blubberhouses Moor.

Then pop down into Ilkley to grab a cup of coffee/mixed berry juice shake before you catch your death.


Blowing away the cobwebs after Christmas doesn’t have to be all about strenuous exercise. Instead, you can take a gentle stroll around the beautiful surroundings of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. On a crisp winter’s day, you get all the benefits of the fresh air, a chance to stretch your legs and an insight into the work of some of Yorkshire’s most feted sculptors.

You can wander between items created by Castleford’s Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth of Wakefield and other great artists from Yorkshire, the rest (less important bits) of Britain and around the globe. The Yorkshire ones are the best, though. Obviously. These open-air displays, located in West Bretton, are stimulating for bodies and minds that may still be feeling the sluggish after-effects of weeks of rich chocolate and trash TV.


Yorkshire is cultivating a real reputation as a centre of cycling. Ilkley itself boasts a thriving cycle club, with easy access to challenging hills on its doorstep. Just down the road in Otley, they can boast world champion track and road racing cyclist Lizzie Deignan among their townsfolk, and Harrogate can stake its own claim as the home of Lycra in Yorkshire.

If you have spent much of the festive period squeezed into a hot, stuffy car with your nearest and dearest, travelling around various relatives, getting out on the bike will be a welcome relief. Feeling the air whizz past as you climb up hill and coast down dale, will certainly help centre you and remind you what it feels like to be alive.