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UK’s Best Winter Hiking Trails

UK’s Best Winter Hiking Trails main image

The first snowfall of the year is always an exciting time.

While some of us snuggle further into our warm duvets, others rush to put on their hats and coats and get out and about in the great outdoors. If you fall into the second group of people, excited by the idea of snow, why not embark on a winter adventure through some of the UK’s most picturesque countryside?

The United Kingdom is home to an abundance of spectacular hiking trails that are only made more magical when they’re blanketed in snow. We’ve put together a list of five hikes worth braving the cold for, along with a few top tips for staying safe and warm on your adventures.

Loch Muick Nature Reserve, Scotland

Scotland’s dramatic landscapes are spectacular no matter when you visit. However, there is something truly mesmerising in the country’s snow-topped mountains and frozen glacial lakes during the depths of winter.

The Loch Muick Circuit is the main trail in the reserve and stretches for eight miles through the valley. With little incline, this is a fairly easy hike, and can be completed in around three hours by the speedy walkers among us.

Keen walkers can also take a small detour to explore some of the area’s beautiful waterfalls and the snow-topped peaks of Lochnagar. Simply turn off the main path when you reach the notable Glas-allt-Shiel house, which was commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1868!

Moel y Gest, Wales

Sitting somewhere between Snowdonia National Park and Gwydir Forest Park, and just a stone’s throw away from the charming town of Porthmadog, is a small mountain peak known as Moel y Gest.

Although the peak is just 250m tall, the hike to its summit ends with a small section of scrambling and is considered to be of intermediate to advanced difficulty level.  The climb can either be completed on its own or as part of a loop trail from Portmadog, which adds an extra 90 minutes to the two-hour trek.

If you manage to scramble your way to the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Tremadoc Bay and across to Snowdonia National Park, a majestic site in the winter frost. Head to one of Porthmadog’s fantastic Welsh pubs afterwards for a well-deserved pint!

Bronte Walk, Yorkshire Dales

Named after the Bronte sisters who lived in the nearby village of Haworth, this is one for literature buffs and avid hikers alike.

The hike itself begins in the village of Haworth, giving you ample opportunity to check out some Bronte hotspots, including the church that still holds the family vault.

Once out of the village, the path takes walkers through snow-covered moorland and to the frozen waterfalls featured in the sister’s writings. The return journey pays a visit to the parsonage where the sisters lived and wrote. It has now been converted into a museum dedicated to the legacy of the Bronte sisters.

Skiddaw Mountain, Lake District

Standing proudly at 931 meters, the hike to Skiddaw’s summit is one of the most rewarding walks in the Lake District. Despite being registered as the sixth-highest mountain in England, it only takes around three-and-a-half hours to complete the hike, perhaps a little longer if there’s snow on the path.

With well-trodden paths and stunning vistas over Keswick, this walk will be loved by both inexperienced and experienced hikers. Anyone searching for more of a challenge can carry on past Skiddaw to some of the higher peaks beyond.

Bosigran Walk, Cornwall

Stretching three miles along the southwest coast, this winter walk will have you appreciating the Great British seaside and the nation’s rich history all at the same time.  

It’s easiest to begin the loop trail at the Carn Galva carpark, where you’ll pass two engine houses – a reminder of the mining industry that used to thrive in the area. Head further along this coastal path to the site of the Bosigran Iron Age castle, remnants of which can still be seen today.

Enjoy the views over the Porthmeor Cove and around Carn Veslan Cliff before returning to a nearby pub for a well-deserved drink by the roaring fire.

Five tips for successful winter hiking

Dress in layers
Who knew it was possible to overheat during the winter? Well, if you don’t dress in breathable layers that’s exactly what can happen. Opt for a merino wool base layer to start, pop a few warm layers in between and top it off with a light breathable jacket for prime winter hiking conditions.

Wear mittens
Swap your gloves for a pair of mittens. Having your fingers in one snug compartment means they share each other’s warmth keeping them nice and toasty.

Take a flask
Having something hot to sip when you stop is a great way to stay warm. Whether you prefer coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a nice cup of soup, investing in a good flask is paramount to a successful winter hike!

Know your route, well!
Your favorite trail can look very different when it’s blanketed in snow and getting disorientated is all too easy. Go old-school and take a paper map and a compass - don’t just rely on your phone for directions!   

Take a friend
Hiking’s no fun on your own, so take a friend with you for a bit of entertainment along the way. Plus, if anything goes wrong, two heads are always better than one. 

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Written by Lily J.

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