SUFFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST: Our nature reserves are a great place to walk off festive excess

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Christmas and New Year is a time of food, fun and festivities which for most of us involves being indoors but winter is a great time to get outside, writes Gemma Smith,

Suffolk Wildlife Trust education officer at Carlton Marshes.

It’s a chance to wear your new hat and gloves, wellies or even that embarrassing Christmas jumper. Bundled up against the cold, like a living snowman, once you’re out you will soon realise it wasn’t as bad as you thought.

Getting out doesn’t mean being out all day, just half an hour is enough to shake out stiff limbs and help you feel rejuvenated breathing in the clean crisp air. At Carlton Marshes nature reserve, near Lowestoft, the trust has a variety of walks to suit everyone, ranging from a quick one mile circular jaunt to a leg-stretching eight mile walk along the Angles way to Beccles. If you prefer something closer to home, why not look onthe STW website for your nearest nature reserve – there’s plenty of habitats to explore from, from Dunwich forest to Knettishall Heath.

There is still plenty of wildlife around and it can be easier to spot as the harder conditions means more animals have to come out of hiding to forage for food. At Carlton Marshes there’s something quite magical seeing the frozen dykes with bird footprints crisscrossing the surface and seeing the winter sunlight glinting off water droplets caught in the heads of teasels. If you’re a budding photographer, winter is a great time to capture some dramatic marshland landscape scenes, tree silhouettes and wintering wader birds.

So wrap up warm, take the first brave steps out of your front door and know that when you get back you will have earned yourself a treat. For me nothing beats coming in from the cold and wrapping chilly fingers around a mug of steaming hot chocolate and if a few marshmallows find their way on top, well I can always go on another walk tomorrow!