Looking for something a bit different this winter season? A way to stay in shape while taking in the sights and sounds of the UK countryside? A way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle and all of the festive noise? Why not try a winter hike? There are a great number of excellent hiking spots available year round that provide a welcome break and staggering views.
This list will cover key locations throughout the United Kingdom and will aim to cover a variety of different hiking spots. From laidback, family focused spots to trails aimed at the more experienced hiker. While nothing on this list should be too difficult or dangerous, always bear in mind that winter conditions can often make hiking locations more hazardous and you should always exercise caution while hiking. Most popular trail spots will have some way to check conditions and get up to date information on the trail but always be aware that conditions may worsen and some courses may become unusable.
With all that out of the way, let’s start our list of some of the best hiking trails to try out this winter.
DIVIS AND THE BLACK MOUNTAIN (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Lying in the gorgeous Belfast hills, Divis and the Black Mountain is a popular tourist spot for families year round. There is a selection of different trails available from short hikes to a tricky summit trail with all of them being completable in a few hours. Divis is mostly known for its tremendous views and wide range of wildlife, protected flora and fauna and archaeological stonework. Winter really helps to bring out the beauty of the local spot in Northern Ireland and with a good selection of facilities and a variety of trails available for all skill levels, it makes it the perfect place for a hiking break.
The Clare and Cavendish Trail (Suffolk)
Suffolk is a picturesque and lovely place to walk through and this 7KM circular route is a nice, scenic and fairly simple hike. Starting in Clare, the trail runs through the county park to the town of Cavendish and then back to Clare. Along the way, there is a chance to look at the wildlife and attractive sights as well as take in some of the historical castle ruins. While this trail can take around 3 hours to complete, it gives plenty of time to spend in Cavendish and Clare, two lovely little towns in their own right and gives you a chance to potentially find yourself an ideal Christmas gift or have a pub lunch. This trail is the ideal weekend getaway and perfect for the family with a trail that has its challenges but is fairly easy to follow with consistent signage and little change in surface.
Craggy Wood (Cumbria)
Running alongside the river Kent, this fairly short trail is ideal for families. Small inclines and a few tricky spots but nothing major and this site welcomes dogs (on leads) so it can be the ideal place to take the dog and enjoy a decent walk. Craggy Wood is a nature hotspot and this trail goes through a number of fields, allowing for a bit of sheep and cow spotting. The wildlife also consists of a great deal of birds so this is an ideal birding spot. This variety of options, along with the ability to do mountain biking, means it can be a bit busy at times and the signage could be improved. Also, it’s mostly muddy paths so particularly bad weather may make this one a challenge. However, on the right day, this is a tranquil and lovely little trail that is sure to be enjoyable for the kids.
Beatrix Potter Walk (Lake District)
With the winter comes a sense of wonder and spectacle and what better way to embrace that than with a trail in memory of the beloved children’s author Beatrix Potter? The Lake District is home to many wonderful walks and trails and this is an incredibly popular one with families. Windermere is a scenic and picturesque town in the heart of the Lake District and is home to the many sights and sounds that inspired the adventures of Peter Rabbit and many others. Explore the 13 mile trail up to her old house at your own pace with a shuttle bus and other transportation available, making it really easy for families to dip in and out of the path.
Elidir Trail (Brecon Beacons)
With one of the tallest waterfalls in the UK, the Elidir Trail is one of the most beautiful trails in the UK when it is at its best and Brecon Beacons is home to many of the best hiking spots in the UK. In winter conditions, the frost adds something almost fairytale to the location but it also makes the already somewhat tricky trail that bit more difficult and potentially dangerous. Ensure you are wearing the right footwear and that you are taking the right amount of caution especially when near the water as it can be notoriously slippy underfoot. If you do brave the conditions though, there are few spots in the UK to relax and take in the atmosphere.
The Seven Bridges Valley Walk (Yorkshire)
No list of UK trails and walks is quite complete without at least one walk around an old abbey or regional landmark. This walk takes you from Fountains Abbey through Studley Park and allows you to see a more rustic and beautiful side of the estate. The beautiful arched bridges allow for a natural path and it creates quite a unique and visually interesting trail that’s fairly short at just 4 miles so provides a decent walk for the family that’s not too taxing.