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8 of the best (and most beautiful) winter walks in the UK

From wild seascapes in Kent to the forests of the Scottish Highlands, these are the best winter walks in the UK

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

Winter doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom. The UK comes alive in a very different way during the colder months: we’re talking icy grass, frost-tipped trees and vast frozen lakes. Even though the unpredictable weather might tempt you to curl up on the sofa with a takeaway to re-watch episodes of Friends all day, we can guarantee that getting out there to make the most of the natural world will feel a hell of a lot better. 

From the eerie landscapes of the Peak District to wild beach walks in Kent and the forests of the Scottish Highlands, the UK brims with stunning wintry walks. Wrap up warm (we’re talking gloves, hat, scarf and thermals) and get ready to indulge in the best scenery around. If you want to make a trip out of it, why not stay in a cosy log cabin for ultimate comfort or even treat yourself to a night’s sleep in a majestic castle? Oh, and if you need extra motivation, we find that coming home to a toasty hot chocolate usually does the trick. Don’t know where to start? We’ve done the hard work for you: here are the best winter walks in the UK.

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Best winter walks in the UK

Rydal Water, Lake District
Photograph: Michael Hilton / Shutterstock

1. Rydal Water, Lake District

This breathtaking lakeside circuit is a treat all year round, but it takes on a new air of magic when temperatures hit minus figures. An easy walking trail that is suitable for families (make sure everyone is wearing suitable footwear!) it curls around the foot of Nab Scar before heading along the low side of Loughrigg Fell, offering magical views over the water. You’ll finish up your walk crossing the River Rothay before ending up back where you started.

Duration: 4.5km, 1-2 hours.

Getting there: Head to the car park for the Rydal Water Circular Walk from Ambleside, off the A591.

Ramsgate to Margate, Kent
Photograph: Christine Bird / Shutterstock

2. Ramsgate to Margate, Kent

While the arty town of Margate might not be the first place that springs to mind when thinking of sub-par temperatures, Kent’s bay-dotted coastline makes for a stunning (albeit windy) winter walk. Start at the Royal Harbour of neighbouring town Ramsgate before following the coastline around picture-perfect white cliffs and nine bays (including the famous Botany Bay) to arrive at Margate for a well-deserved hot drink. At low tide, you’ll be able to walk along the sands (but you might want to reschedule that wild swim for next summer). 

Distance: 11km, 3-4 hours. 

Getting there: Train to Ramsgate train station, back from Margate.

Meall a’Bhuachaille, Cairngorms
Photograph: Jan Holm / Shutterstock

3. Meall a’Bhuachaille, Cairngorms

Grab your hiking boots: it’s time to bag your first Corbett (that’s jargon for reaching the summit of a Scottish hill that’s 2,500 to 3000 foot tall). It’s not as scary as it might sound, and is a great starting point for walkers considering tackling some of the more challenging Caingorms in the area. The Meall a’Bhuachaille ciruit offers everything from windswept ridges to centuries-old pine forests, treating you to uninterupted views of An Lochan Uaine and the chance to pass a remote bothy. Be sure to wear layers – the weather can have a mind of its own – and pack your binoculars. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot the Cairngorm reindeer on the way back down. 

Distance: 8.5km, 4-5 hours. 

Getting there: Glenmore Forest Park visitor centre car park, or the bus to Glenmore from Aviemore. 

Blakeney to Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
Photograph: Ernie Janes / Shutterstock

4. Blakeney to Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk

If the blistering winds of the north Norfolk coast aren’t enough to wake you up to the seasonal beauty of winter, we’re not sure what will be. This coast path from the quaint coastal village of Blakeney through the Blakeney Nature Reserve (where you can spot seals and rare birds) and over the moors and dunes to Wells-next-the-Sea is an excellent introduction to the region. Finish up at the colourful beach huts of Wells-Next-The-Sea before heading home. 

Distance: 12.4km, 3-4 hours.

Getting there: Train to Sheringham before jumping on the Coasthopper bus to Blakeney.

Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea
Photograph: Steve Pleydell / Shutterstock

5. Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea

The Three Cliffs Bay loop is a gentle stroll through very varied landscape: you’ll pass the romantic twelfth-century ruins of Pennard Castle, head along dramatic Welsh valley drops and look out onto the icy blue waters of the sea. Don’t forget your camera: once you reach the viewpoint, marked by a wooden shell, you’re going to want to grab a snap of the iconic three cliffs. It’s one of the most photographed spots in the region, and for good reason. 

Distance: 6.5km, 2-4 hours. 

Getting there: Parking opposite Shepherds of Gower, Parkmill, or catch the 118 bus from Swansea Central.

The Roaches, Staffordshire
Photograph: Karl Redshaw Photography / Shutterstock

6. The Roaches, Staffordshire

With its craggy moorland, moss-covered gorges and curling woodland trails, The Roaches is a walk worth doing all year round. But it’s perhaps particularly good fun in winter, when the rocky formations and hazier weather only adds to the slightly spooky atmosphere created by Lud’s Church. A deep chasm formed in sandstone, it is known to have been a secret place of worship in the early fifteenth century by John Wycliffe, an early church reformer. 

Distance: 13km, 4-5 hours. 

Getting there: Roaches Gate car park, near Upper Hulme.

Allermuir, Edinburgh
Photograph: Stephen Bridger / Shutterstock

7. Allermuir, Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat is an obvious choice for walking in the Scottish capital, but the slightly-further-out Pentland Hills is a quieter – and arguably more scenic – alternative. Head up Allermuir Hill for a panoramic view of the city and its surrounding reservoirs. Start by following the signs for the ‘Capital View’ walk, a steep uphill path that will take you up to the ridge of Caerketton Hill. Wind around the ridges before a brief descent, preparing you for the final climb up Allermuir. End your journey at Swanston: a cute cluster of cottages with a handy local brasserie where you can refuel with pub classics. 

Distance: 6.5km, 2-3 hours.

Getting there: Car park at Hillend Snowsports centre.

Cardinham Woods, Cornwall
Photograph: Paul Nash / Shutterstock

8. Cardinham Woods, Cornwall

A mix of mature woodland and newly planted foliage, Cardinham Woods transforms into an enchanted winter wonderland come the cooler months. There are walking routes to suit all abilities here, from steep climbs to leisurely strolls to off-road mobility vehicle access (which users can hire from Forestry England). There’s also an on-site café – perfect for getting your caffiene fix before or after a day of fresh air. 

Distance: Varies. 

Getting there: Cardinham Woods car park, after the Carminnow Cross roundabout from Bodmin.

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