Wonderful Winter Walks – A Guide to the UK & Ireland’s Finest

winter walks

Rhossili Bay, South Wales

This ancient terrain is blessed with natural good looks and is also dotted with Iron Age and Norman monuments to explore in an area that has been treasured for centuries. A great way to take in this fabulous vista is to walk from Worms Head along the coast and then into a circular route around Rhossili Bay. This eight mile route provides some fantastic vantage points that on a clear day will allow you to glimpse the North Devon coast. The rugged countryside is bordered by a large beach at Rhossili Bay providing an opportunity to follow the tide line as part of your journey across some of the most delightful scenery in South Wales.

Loch Morar to Tarbet, Scotland

This part of Scotland is considered a paradise for walkers, with elevated views of some of the most stunning Scottish mountains including Ben Nevis and across the water towards the Hebrides. One of the most scenic and popular routes is the 5 mile route along the loch to Tarbet. With a snow capped backdrop against the still, mirror-like waters and on a crisp winter’s day, the views are simply breathtaking. The wild landscape provides a variety of habits to a fascinating array of wildlife. Look out for otters, roe deer and even sea eagles, which can be seen fishing for salmon!

Holywell Bay to Porthtowan, Cornwall

Holywell Beach

Whether it’s a crystalline blue winter’s day or a breezy afternoon, walkers (and surfers!) are drawn to one of the most enigmatic stretches of coast in the country. Holywell Bay with its famous Gull Rocks lies just to the south of Newquay on the north Cornwall coast. The walk following the coastal path south to Porthtowan passes delightful coves, expansive beaches and imposing cliffs and takes about 5 hours. The route will take you through Perranporth, St Agnes and the emblematic Wheal Coates, a former tin mine which looks down on this majestic coastline. This historic landmark has come to symbolise ‘Kernow’ and man’s essential link to land and sea. With a plethora of great pubs along the way, there is plenty of opportunity to ‘rest’ on this popular winter walk.

Slievenamon mountain walk, Republic of Ireland

This is a walk up the 721 metre mountain of Slievenamon. Although it is a mountain trek, Slievenamon is an easy mountain to climb and even suitable for beginners due to its wide and clearly marked path, which lasts up to the summit. The views from Slievenamon mountain are wonderful, allowing you to take in vistas of the other mountains nearby as well as the ancient burial cains, the highest of which was once believed to be the entrance to the Celtic hell. Slievenamon is itself a mountain steeped in folklore; its name is translatable as “Mountain of the Women”, which ultimately derives from the legend that the most beautiful women across the land once raced to the summit in order to become the bride of a warrior called Fionn mac Cumhail.

Winchcombe walks, the Cotswolds

The attractive gentle inclines of the Cotswolds offer an extensive variety of footpaths and bridleways across historic sites, rivers and past tempting old inns!  Winchcombe which lies at the heart of the Cotswolds is a great starting point for a variety of walks around some of the most beautiful and historic landscapes in the area.  Many options encompass parts of the Cotwolds Way and you can choose from leisurely two mile routes around Sudeley Castle to more challenging hikes from Winchombe to Hailes, taking in great views of the Malverns and the Vale of Evesham. With the early winter nights make sure you plan your journey allowing for plenty of daylight to complete your walk. What better way than to round off your winter hike than coming home to light your woodburner in your cosy Cotswolds cottage!

Sheringham to Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk

Cley Next the Sea

This eight and a half mile walk is for people who like to feel as if they have entered the wilderness. It starts along rugged sandy cliffs, which then merge into wild shingle beach and salt marshes, where you can expect to spot some interesting birds. Further along the trail there are also cley marshes, softly undulating hills and great views of Cley’s windmill and Blakeney’s Church tower. The walk comes to an ideal end at the village Cley-next-the-Sea, where you can enjoy a well-earned cup of tea and slice of cake.

Allen Banks woodland walk, Northumberland

Northumberland is often overlooked as a tourist destination but the options for walkers are impressive. One lesser known but beautiful walk is the Allen Banks woodland walk, which snakes along the River Allen’s valley. This is a three mile, moderate walk. The River Allen is one of the south Tyne’s tributaries. This is a trail with diverse scenery as it also entails trekking through Northumberland’s woodland, which hosts a range of fungi, flora and fauna. This is a great walk for birdwatchers- look out for the dippers and grey wagtails. On summer evenings you can sometimes even spot bats diving for insects on the surface of the river!

Tintagel Church to Trebarwith Strand, Cornwall

Treknow

This three mile, easy-to-moderate walk takes you through one of the quieter areas of Cornwall. It may not be on the radar of most visitors to Cornwall but this is a truly beautiful trail. It starts off at a picturesque church on Glebe Cliff and then takes you along a coastal path, which offers jaw-dropping views of dramatic cliffs and coastal slate quarries as well as sandy beaches. The beach at Trebarwith Strand is also a great place to take a break for lunch or even go surfing. You can then follow a quarryman’s trail into the town of Treknow and round off your day by visiting the local castle.

The Grey Mare’s Tail and Loch Skeen, Scotland

This isolated area of Scotland, east of Ayr and south east of Glasgow, is one of the country’s hidden secrets. At less than three miles, this walk can be completed in two and a half hours. The Grey Mare’s Tail is one of Scotland’s most impressive waterfalls, cascading 60 metres in the Moffat hills. The view even inspired poet Sir Walter Scott to write verse about it. This walk allows you to not only drink in the vistas of the spectacular waterfall but also take in wonderful views of Loch Skeen and the rugged hills that surround the lake. There is some interesting wildlife to experience on this trail too, such as peregrine falcons.

Tonfanau to Tywyn, Wales

Tywyn is not an obvious choice when it comes to walking in Wales but it offers some fascinating routes. This particular one, which is eight miles and takes between three and five hours to complete, follows the Dysynni river and there are some colourful landmarks from the start. Tonfanau has an interesting history as it used to be an army camp and also took in Ugandan refugees during the 1970s. There are some spectacular views once you start this trek- for example at Craig-yr-aderyn (Bird’s Rock) and at the Broadwater lagoon. The wildlife to look out for includes oystercatchers, wallards, wigeons, skylarks, buzzards and red kites. The end of this walk leads you to Tywyn, where you are highly recommended to stop at Halo Foods Factory for its famous honey ice cream!

Curbar Gap circular, the Peak District

Curbar Gap

The central location of the Peak District National Park makes it eminently accessible and perfect for a walking short break. To get a real sense of wilderness and the essential raw beauty of the Peaks, the Eastern Moors is offers varied range of vistas to immerse yourself during a winter moorland walk. The circular route from Curbar Gap, through Froggat, White Edges and then back to Curbar Gap, takes in some of the most strikingly rugged parts of the Peak District. Expansive moorland home to timid red deer offers vantage points across Derwent Valley and on to the heartland of the Peak District.

Ballyconnell walk, Republic of Ireland

Ballyconnell, in County Cavan, is famed for its fishing and golf activities. Less well known is the fact that it is also a starting point for some of the most beautiful walks in the Republic of Ireland, which are dotted with archaeological sites. This includes the site where the Killycluggin stone was found, an artefact which dates back to the Iron Age. Although the real stone is now in the National Museum, there is a replica on site. One walk option is to start from the town’s bridge and then trek along the Woodford River and Annagh Lough Woods, which is home to ash, beech and oak trees as well as a wildlife reserve.

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