Walking in the air – our guide to winter walks
Tis wondrous to walk in winter. Crunching crispy snow underfoot, feeling all glowy cheeked and virtuous, and striding over hills and moors in a Tom Baker Doctor Who Very Long Scarf. (And other garments too, obv, we’re not this bloke .)
And, as our other favourite winter pastimes include this (and this ), walks over winter should help to mitigate the usual curses, screams and tears when jeans are tried on again after Christmas. Thus, our guide to walking holidays, walking festivals and best winter walks for 2014 - 2015:
- As it’s important you survive your walks, accommodation is key: this is not the time to pitch a tent halfway up a mountain. Pick ‘ lodge, cabin, pod or hut ’ or ‘ caravans for hire ’ from our accommodation search categories, and filter with our hundreds of sites in a walkers’ paradise for leg-stretching nearby.
- Natch, you’ll want some soaking luxury too: we bring you walkers’ paradise sites with a hot tub , and walkers’ paradise sites with a bath available .
A few of our fave spots and sites for winter walks - more tips below:
Can’t beat the Lake District for a bit of winter walking (and poetry declaiming)… head to Penrith for walks on the edge of the Lake District National Park to take in some splendrous woodland and waterfalls including famous Aira Force. Ideas and free walk downloads here .
Stay at Penrith’s five-star The Quiet Site above Lake Ullswater as a winter walking base, with pods from £35 and a pub over which you’ll go gaga.
The Tarka Trail, Devon
Weep your way along part of the 180-mile trail followed by Henry Williamson’s Tarka the otter before the book ending that made us cry. The trail covers moorland, cliffs, bays and river valleys, and connects with the famed South West Coast Path for part of its route.
Nearby Jubilee Park Farm has two-bedroom lodges available throughout winter, from £105 for a minimum three-night stay and £140 for nights in November.
Jurassic Coast, Dorset
We would weep if we tried to pin down our favourite walks in Dorset on the Jurassic Coast, so we’ll quickly share our Jurassic Coast guide , where you can also find out about biking, fossil hunting and all other things Dorset, along with some of our Dorset sites. (And if you’re in Dorset, don’t forget the Thomas Hardy Trail.)
(And several dozen more– if you have a favourite, let us know...)
- Also find winter walks by picking a site, any site, at random (we like to stick pins into maps, but bear in mind this will ruin a computer/phone screen). Then flip to the Local attractions tab for info on what to do nearby, including walking routes and different map views such as Ordnance Survey.
- Getting the kids along on brisk walks on winter days is one of the best things about cold weather walking, mostly because of inventive excuses and complaints from those who’d prefer to stay indoors. If you have one of these in the family, the Woodland Trust has acres of info to get small people interested outdoors in colder weather including winter downloads and activities . We also have some splendid tips in our blog about getting kids connected to wildlife and nature .
- Similarly, check your local Wildlife Trust to see if there are free or very cheap walking and wildlife spotting events in your area: there are 47 Trusts throughout the country and most events are either free or a couple of quid, so we’re going to bet a ‘Yes’ on both counts. Find your local Wildlife Trust here .
- Get rambling: even misanthropic sorts as we can be on occasion recognise that there is much to be said for walking one’s walks with others, as it means meeting up with those who know the lay of the land and interesting new routes, and having a Scheduled Thing to go to so we don’t give into temptation and stay on the sofa eating Smarties. Huzzah then for the Ramblers and its Festival of Winter Walks , 20 December – 4 January, with walks all over the country around coast and countryside, walks for families, walks suitable for buggies and wheelchairs, and walks for the twenty and thirtysomethings.
- More info including searching for Festival of Winter Walks in your area here , and five of our top picks here:
Mince pie walk , Great Orme, 20 December at 10am (seven miles, moderate, Conwy )
Christmas Day walk around Blenheim Park , 25 December at 10am (seven miles, moderate; Oxfordshire )
Boxing Day walk , Porthtowan, 26 December at 11am (five and a half miles, moderate, Cornwall )
New Year's Eve walk , Shifnal, 31 December at 10.30am (seven miles, moderate, Shropshire )
New Year's Day lunch walk , Minstead, 1 January at 11am (five miles, moderate, the New Forest )
If you have fave winter walks, please let us know below; we shall join you and other rosy-cheeked enthusiasts outdoors in a bit. Just as soon as we’ve polished off this pie...
First published November 2013, updated November 2014