Walking is more popular than ever before and is fantastic for both fitness and mental health. No matter where you live there are bound to be walks nearby that will allow you to take in nature and to get some essential exercise. Although winter isn't necessarily the obvious season for a walk, there's nothing quite like hearing the crisp crunch of frozen grass underfoot or feeling like you've really earned that hot chocolate by the fire afterwards! Below are some of the UK's best scenic routes to keep you outdoors during this winter season. So pull on a pair of wellies and wrap up warm before heading out the door.
- Tintagel to Boscastle (Cornwall) 5.5 miles
If it's a wonderful view you're after this winter, then this stretch of coastline offers some of the best natural views in Cornwall. As well as a great hike, the area is steeped in history from Tintagel Castle to Boscastle’s witching links. Start at the castle, famous for King Arthur, and head north on the footpath through an Iron Age settlement before reaching the charming town of Boscastle. The route includes paths close to unfenced cliff areas and is moderate in steepness. You'll want to wrap up warm so close to the coast as the wind coming off the sea will be chilly!
- Cotswold Way (Gloucestershire & Somerset) distance optional
If you're looking for a challenge this winter then why not seek out to complete the Cotswold Way? The route starts in Chipping Camden in Gloucestershire and finishes in Bath (Somerset) running a total of 102 miles. Whilst people do try completing it in one go, most carve the route up and complete it bit by bit. You will be spoilt by stunning scenery and an abundance of countryside along this calorie burning route so pull on your winter walking boots and give it a go. Check out the Cotswold Way Association website for further details of the route and circular route options too
- Coed y Brenin, Gwynedd (Wales) 3.5 miles
Coed y Brenin Forest Park covers 9,000 acres of woodland and river valleys. Once an area used for mining, it is now managed for timber and recreation. This scenic route will take you through the forest and past waterfalls giving you plenty to experience. From the first day of winter to the last, this route will have you coming back time and again as it is the perfect family walk. The waterfall on route will leave you feeling refreshed due to its generation of negative ions in the atmosphere nearby!
- Thames Path (Cotswolds to London) distance optional
If you're after a London winter walk then the Thames Path should be on your list. The Thames Path is one of England's famous walking trails and follows the iconic river for 184 miles. National Trails and the Environment Agency have published 12 accessible walks which are suitable for all abilities. These are short walks offering plenty of scenic routes perfect for a winter wander.
- Eastbourne & Beachy Head (South Downs) 5 miles
If you'd like to blow the cobwebs away this winter then consider this lovely walk. Starting from Eastbourne continue on to take in the famous Beachy Head, Britain's highest chalk cliff. The walk is 5 miles and should take around 3.5 hours to the village of East Dean. Here you have the option of jumping on a bus to return back to the start or an optional walking return route adds 2 miles and helps to burns off a few more calories.
- Hareshaw Linn walk, (Northumberland National Park) 3 miles
Why not head out this winter to see if you can spot some rare plants and wildlife. You may be lucky enough to encounter red squirrels or perhaps a great spotted woodpecker on this walk. Northumberland National Park has a multitude of trails to choose from but this particular route takes in pretty woodland and a waterfall so went straight to the top of our list. It is moderate in difficulty but well worth pulling on your winter walking boots. For a map click below or head to the Northumberland National Park website for further information and trails.
- Loch Morlich (Aviemore, Scotland) 3.5 miles
If you dream of walking in a winter wonderland then look no further than Loch Morlich in Scotland. There is a route right around the loch, offering stunning views of the Cairngorm Mountains, which at this time of year look especially wintery dusted with snow. Situated in the heart of Glenmore Forest, a winter walk here will feel like you have stepped into the pages of your very own story. You'll certainly be getting away from it all and is undoubtedly one of the best winter walks in the UK.
- Birchen Edge - Chatsworth Circular (Peak District) 7 miles
If you're looking for somewhere new to walk your dog this winter then consider this lovely 7-mile circular which takes in Birchen Edge, Chatsworth and Dobb Edge - all of which are gems of the Peak District. The Derbyshire countryside promises incredible views in all directions. There are three places that you could choose to begin this winter walk, either Birchen Edge Car Park (by the Robin Hood Inn), Chatsworth Car Park or Baslow Village car park. You will be rewarded with atmospheric woodland, Nelsons Monument and Chatsworth House giving you plenty to look at whilst you give your walking boots a good outing. In one section of this route there are a number of steps so it is not ideal for pushchairs or wheelchairs.
- Mickleden Valley Trail, (Lake District) 3.8 miles
The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places in the UK and this walk really lets you take it all in and get away from it all. If it's winter solitude you're after then you'll have come to the right place because after leaving the Old Dungeon Ghyll, the only sign of habitation you'll encounter is Stool End Farm. You will feel as though you are walking through the wilderness for most of the route. This winter walk runs west along Mickleden on a well-defined, level path below Pike O’ Stickle on the right and The Band on the left. The turnaround point for the walk is where the path splits at the bottom of two ancient mountain passes; Rossett Gill and Stake Pass.
- Castle Ward Loughside walk (Northern Ireland) 2.5 miles
If you're lucky you'll see seals on this gentle winter trail. Family friendly and ideal for a dog walk too this scenic route is the perfect way to spend an hour or so. The trail will take you past castle ruins, a lake and through woodland so there is plenty to see and experience. Certainly ideal for blowing the cobwebs away, this winter walk will give you a taste of what Ireland can offer and whet your appetite for more exploring this season. This National Trust circular begins at Old Castle Ward farmyard , there is a car park nearby for convenience.
Wherever you decide to walk this winter it is important to stay safe and dress appropriately. A warm coat is a necessity along with gloves, hat and a scarf. Suitable footwear, ideally walking boots are recommended to combat uneven terrain along with seasonal mud! A good quality waterproof bag housing water and snacks should be taken, along with a mobile phone, map and small first aid kit for any blisters or scrapes encountered. It is unadvisable to go alone if you're unfamiliar with the area but at the very least it would be best to tell someone where you're going in case you get lost or injured in an area with limited phone signal. A battery charging pack is also a great addition to your supplies should you be going on a longer walk or in case you get lost. Check out the what3words app which gives you an exact location to provide to emergency services should you get into difficulty.