The perennially popular Ramblers Festival of Winter Walks is back, taking place this year from Friday, December 21 to Sunday, January 6.

Ramblers groups across the South Wast of England are offering a great selection of free festive walks to give everyone the chance to enjoy magical winter landscapes in good company, and to meet new friends at a time of year when many people can feel lonely or isolated.

Ramblers research from winter 2017 found that nearly half (46 per cent) of adults surveyed said they sometimes felt socially isolated or lonely, and more than a third (35 per cent) said there were days over the Christmas period where they didn’t see anyone.

“Winter is a wonderful time to go walking and enjoy the cold crisp air and striking frosty landscapes, and of course it’s a great way to burn off the effects of Christmas over-indulgence," says Tompion Platt, Ramblers director of advocacy and engagement.

“But we also know that the festive season can be a particularly difficult time for people who are on their own, and a sociable walk with a welcoming group is a great way to get out and about and meet people.

"Our Ramblers groups have hundreds of walks organised during our Festival of Winter Walks. All you have to do is turn up and enjoy the company – and perhaps a mince pie and a festive drink too!”

During the festival, supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery, there are hundreds of walks planned across the country, so there is something for everyone, from short festive strolls to more strenuous walks, If you need a little inspiration on where to walk, download one of thousands of Ramblers Routes from the online library. You can use these to head out for a solo stroll or rally round friends and neighbours and lead festive walks.

The Festival of Winter Walks is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery to help everyone, everywhere enjoy walking.