Has a hectic family Christmas left you needing to escape for peace, quiet and outdoor space?

I love walking with the family on New Year’s Day and often visit standing stones or some other ancient site to ring in the new year and blow away those morning-after cobwebs.

Try Something New

Walking to an ancient site gives a real focus to a walk or hike, especially for the kids, and might be something you don’t normally do on a hiking trip. It’s a great way to see the countryside, learn about the history in our landscapes and, with an end goal, the adults should stay motivated too, even if the headache refuses to shift.

If you find it hard to get moving on New Year’s Day, tell the family to take a hike and find an ancient site to explore! Even better, take the family with you, but get walking one way or another.

5 Reasons to Take a Family Hike on New Year’s Day: –

  1. Fresh air is a great hangover cure
  2. Walking clears the head, perfect for clarifying (or cancelling!) New Year’s resolutions
  3. It gets everyone outdoors on a potentially flat day
  4. Involving the kids is a great idea/excuse (sshh) for a shorter than usual walk if you’re feeling really fragile
  5. It stops you hanging around indoors talking about work!

Where to begin and how to plan your visit?

How to Choose an Ancient Site to Visit

Start your ancient site visit with a look at The Modern Antiquarian, an online guidebook where you can search for all the ancient sites in your area. Once you choose a site check out the OS map, pack snacks, drinks, the right clothing and get going. My post on how to make walking with kids wonderful has lots of ideas to keep momentum going.

Duddo, ‘The Stonehenge of the North’

In 2016 I was intrigued by a mysterious place billed as ‘the Stonehenge of the North’ near the village of Duddo, close to Northumberand’s Scottish border.

A dry, bitterly cold New Year’s Day found us in the car through raw and rugged countryside where we spotted a huge hare at the roadside and a buzzard feasting on another poor creature. Nature’s cycles at work.

4-standing-stones-on-top-of-hillThe Duddo Stones, one re-erected in modern times with holes where a further 2 were removed

The attraction of the Duddo Stones is their remoteness, giving the site a strong sense of mystery and atmosphere. They are not visible from the road and we saw nobody else during our visit.

It is one mile of mostly flat walking, ideal for small children to the hilltop site; the perfect distance in chilly weather for our then 6-year-old. We had great fun along the way breaking ice on puddles and ruts left by farm vehicles.

Getting There

Use OS Explorer Map (339) Kelso, Coldstream and Lower Tweed Valley  where the stones are found at grid ref NT 936431.

Where to Park the Car

Find parking space for 3 or 4  cars near the gate on private farmland (permission granted by Duddo Farm) at grid ref NT 933426.

young-girl-in-polar-bear-hat-holding-up-piece-of-broken-ice-in-a-fieldFinding bullet holes in frozen panes of ice

Ancient Atmospherics

From the foot of the hill the stones appear like a crown and entice you on in an otherwise empty landscape. Bleak but with hidden tales to reveal.

Interestingly, there seemed more ‘atmosphere’ at the foot of the incline towards the stones (below photo) than at the summit. The actual stone circle site itself has stunning views towards the Borders and the Cheviots.

man-and-girl-walking-up-gentle-slope-towards-standing-stne-circleGreat atmosphere from this position

Bronze Age Stone Circle

The 4000 year old Neolithic (Bronze Age) standing stones are each around 2-3 metres in height and 10 metres in diameter, tapering towards the bottom, forming a circular ‘crown’.

They remind me of giant pulled teeth stuck in the ground!

It is possibly a cremation site due to excavated ashes and bones found there.

If you visit Northumberland I highly recommend a trip to this alluring and enigmatic stone circle.

More UK Family Walking and Hiking

For more walking and hiking ideas see Kids of the Wild’s Walking and Hiking section where we are adding location ideas and maps all the time.

New Year is a good time to visit both Blawearie on the moors or for a beach adventure to a shipwreck you can stand on, check the tides and take a hike to the coast at Howick to visit the shipwreck Tadorne.

For an inspiring read about the beauty of getting up for a sunrise hike in Wales check out Cool of the Wild’s article catching the wonder of a sunrise hike

For walking inspiration where you live in the UK check out Julia Bradbury’s The Outdoor Guide.

And if you’ve really had enough of everyone after Christmas and all else fails, tell the family to properly take a hike and go on one on your own – but don’t say I suggested it!