Walkers across the country are invited to take part in one of hundreds of walks to blow away the cobwebs and burn off the Christmas indulgence. We spoke to the Ramblers’ director of walking development, Simon Barnett about his love of wandering in the colder weather
‘Winter scenery is incredible. Whether it’s a blanket of snow covering the hills or a sprinkling of frost amongst the trees, winter provides a whole new perspective on our landscapes. The best time to go for a winter walk is under clear blue skies, when you’ll be able to see for miles, something you can’t always do when flora is in full bloom. Take your camera along, you’re guaranteed to get some fantastic photos.
Walking gets you out of doors at a time of year when our bodies are most deprived of sunlight. Even just half an hour in the fresh air can make a big difference in helping fight off the winter blues. Not to mention the fact that it’s great exercise too. Contrary to popular belief, there’s plenty of wildlife to spot too. Look out for deer, badgers, otters, winter wildfowl and roosting birds. Winter brings with it a unique advantage of being able to find clear animal tracks, without plants hiding the ground, a great activity for kids! And if there’s snow or mud, even better. Don’t forget the winter plants, including holly, mistletoe and ivy. Don’t be put off by the thought of having to invest in full-on mountaineering gear to go for a winter walk. That simply isn’t the case. By choosing the right route and wearing a pair of sturdy, waterproof shoes and jacket you can enjoy an incredible winter wander. Take enough warm clothes with you and wear a hat and gloves. Several thin layers are better than one thick layer. Pack a flask and some high energy snacks too, so when you find a pretty view you can set up camp and enjoy a warming drink and refuel. There’s something magical about wrapping up warmly, heading out with your loved ones and perhaps even being the first person to leave footprints in the snow. Our Festival of Winter Walks is our Christmas gift to the nation, so that everyone can enjoy the wonders of a winter walk. The walks during the festival are free, fun, friendly and open to everyone, so wrap up warm and join us as we enjoy the season the way we know best on our feet.’ ramblers.org.uk
Cold-weather rambling events
WINTER WANDERS WEEKEND Join free guided tours across London at this annual festival (they’re held in Spring and Autumn too). The itinerary usually includes a longer, 17-mile, ramble along the Green Chain as well as shorter, more family friendly walks on themes such as haunted London and spies. walklondon.org.uk
CRICKHOWELL WALKING FESTIVAL The gorgeous Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons are the setting for this 9-day festival in Wales. There are walks of all grades, from supertough treks across the peaks, to leisurely strolls in the valleys, as well as music and dancing in the evenings. crickhowellfestival.com
HIGH PEAK WINTER HIKE Raise your spirits and heartbeat while raising money for the British Heart Foundation at the annual High Peak Winter Hike. Hundreds of supporters trek for 17 miles through the beautiful Derbyshire hills. bhf.org.uk