Despite the shorter days and the colder weather, the winter season can be a fantastic time for getting out and exploring the Great British countryside. Here are our top ten tips for walking during winter:
Keep watch for the winter sun
The short days and winter gloom make those crisp, sunny days even more precious. Check the weather forecast for opportunities to get outside and enjoy a walk in the sunshine.
Keep warm by wearing many thin, breathable layers of clothing which you can add or remove as required. This gives you better temperature control than wearing a few heavy layers, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable walk.
Boots made for walking
Walking is an affordable pastime that requires a comfortable pair of shoes and little specialist gear. Waterproof hiking boots become a very worthwhile investment if you are faced with snow or mud, enabling you to get out at every opportunity. A slightly large pair will leave room for some thick winter socks, so that your feet can stay dry and cosy in the cold.
Walking in the snow
A blanket of snow significantly alters the environment, bringing a tranquil charm to any landscape. Enjoy walking in the snow, taking precautions such as staying on an easy-to-follow route along wide tracks or bridleways or strolling along a beach.
Be better prepared
Don’t get caught out in the cold, prepare carefully for any long or remote winter walk. Check you have suitable clothing including a hat, good gloves and waterproofs, plenty of food and drink, and possibly sun protection. If you are heading off the beaten track, plan an achievable route making sure that you have informed someone of your estimated return time. Make sure you carry sufficient provisions for the unexpected.
It can be easy to underestimate the low mountains of the UK at any time of year. Plunging temperatures, gales or snowfall can transform the hills into an extreme alpine environment. Under these conditions, the peaks should be left to those with genuine mountaineering skills and proper equipment like ice axes and crampons. Always make sure you check the weather forecast before embarking on winter walks.
Home before dark
The shorter days leave less time for detours and mishaps, so allow plenty of time to complete a route before sunset. We at A-Z would naturally advise taking a suitable walking map, so that you can check your progress or quickly find your way back to a signposted path. For example, the A-Z Adventure Atlases feature clear OS Explorer mapping in an easy-to-use book format, ideal for quick reference.
Pubs and cafes
The British village pub and seaside tea room are arguably at their best as a cosy haven in bad weather. Plan a route that lets you work up an appetite and then indulge it with a hearty meal, a warming pot of tea or a fine pint by the fireside.
Get resolute in the New Year
A winter walk is a great way to blow away the cobwebs after the indulgence of the festive season. Regular, brisk walks are also a simple way to improve your fitness after a December binge, especially as part of your daily routine.
Places to go
Most walks can be appreciated all year round, but here are a few suggestions:
- Sandy heaths and chalk downs will stay relatively mud-free after wet spells
- Coastal walks can offer dramatic seascapes after a winter storm
- The most popular beauty spots may be quieter and more peaceful in the winter