10 beautiful rural places to visit in the UK during winter

Rural, Seasonal, Nature

Posted by Ed Roberts on 19th November 2021

When the British winter has us all it in its grip, where are the best places to visit in the UK? When the temperatures drop and nature recedes, beauty can still be found at holiday destinations across England, Scotland, and Wales every winter, so read on discover our favourite places to visit and to enjoy a winter walk

Photographers all over the UK have gathered proof of our country’s winter beauty as a part of our Winter Holiday Watch competition in conjunction with the RSPB.  We think that the British Isles is home to some of the world’s most attractive winter destinations; read on to discover the must-see places this season and where to enjoy a winter break.

Stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages this winter. From the tip of Atlantic-enveloped Cornwall to the North Sea’s edge at John o’Groats; the snowy peaks of Mount Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa  and Ben Nevis to the flatlands and fens of East Anglia, let us show you 10 beautiful rural places to visit in the UK during winter.

Winter cottages

Dartmoor, Devon

Dartmoor, Devon 

For sweeping views and bewitching trails, Dartmoor National Park is incredible. The vast empty landscapes of Dartmoor wear the winter well like a beautiful coat, serving to dazzle those brave enough to face the weather. Prepare and pack well before heading out into the wildernesses of Dartmoor. There are plenty of beautiful Dartmoor walks where you can explore this wonderful landscape; walk to Fingle Bridge, Haytor Rocks, Castle Drogo, High Willhays Tor, Doghole Bridge and more! 

Stay nearby: The Hayloft – Moretonhampstead | Sleeps: 2 guests + 1 dog

Photos: Helen Wavish and Ryan Kerr    

Kirkstone Pass, Lake District

Kirkstone Pass, Lake District

The Lake District’s highest road, Kirkstone Pass, gifts visitors amazing views. If the road conditions are right, head over from Ambleside in the Rothay Valley onto Patterdale in the Ullswater Valley. Look out for views of the lesser-known Brothers Water below. There is a very pleasant country pub along the road called The Kirkstone Pass Inn, where you can enjoy a warming lunch. It’s the third-highest pub in England! Read our guide to the best Lake District walks for even more ideas.

Stay nearby: Birkett House | Sleeps: 6 guests

Photo: Laura Robinson 

Peak District National Park

Peak District National Park, Derbyshire

The Peak District is a superb winter holiday destination. If you’ve never been to this national park during the winter, then you are missing out on some fantastic scenery. Transformed into an icy wonderland, the rolling hills and dramatic peaks are shrouded in mist and are even more magical when dusted with a blanket of snow. There are plenty of scenic walks to make the most of this enchanting landscape.

Stay nearby: Ivy House - Wetton | Sleeps: 6 guests + 1 dog

Photos: Carmen Peach, @purplepeeers, and Ria

High Weald, Kent

High Weald, Kent  

Enjoy a winter holiday in the High Weald AONB in Kent, a fantastic part of the South East of England. During the winter, you will notice how beautiful the area is when you spy views formerly hidden when the tree canopy closes over in the spring and summer. Cobham Woods is a particularly lovely spot to head to when you are on your holidays in Kent. It’s a great spot for a lengthy dog walk and to take in the fantastic scenery west of Chatham. 

Stay nearby: Anchor Light Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests + 3 dogs

Photo: Linda Goodwin 

Glen Coe, Scotland

Glencoe, Scotland 

If you have a trek in mind this winter, the stark majesty of Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands is hard to beat. The name translates to the ‘Valley of Weeping’, but there won’t be tears when you see Glencoe’s mountain valley; it’s a tremendous sight to behold. Just 16 miles south of Fort William, there’s also plenty of winter sports options in the area to get involved in, as well as a dazzling array of breathtaking mountain walks

Stay nearby: Glencoe Retreat | Sleeps: 6 guests + 2 dogs 

Photo: Sara Inglis 

Coast-to-Coast Walk, North of England

Coast-to-Coast Walk, North of England

For the serious wayfarer, embark on a trek along Alfred Wainwright’s famous Coast-to-Coast Walk. Take up the pursuit of winter beauty through no less than three national parks (The Lake District, The Yorkshire Dales, and The North York Moors), along the 182-mile expanse between St Bees and Robin Hood’s Bay. It can be achieved in 12 stages and, as you can imagine, the countryside through which it winds is awesome. It's a wonderful way to explore Yorkshire in winter, and a great excuse to treat yourself to a long rest at a holiday cottage when you complete your mission! 

Stay nearby: Lilly’s Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests + 2 dogs 

Photo: Alyson Hilbourne 

Cromarty Firth, Scotland

Cromarty Firth, Scotland

Does a trip to a misty winter-gilded Scottish firth sound enticing? We think an escape to the wilds of Scotland could be the perfect winter holiday. Cromarty Firth is a Special Protection Area for wildlife, and you can see bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises, grey seals, and harbour seals in its waters. Spy the distant decommissioned oil rigs that draw in photographers to capture their silhouettes in the winter sunrise.

Stay nearby: Evelix | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog 

Photo: Heather Major  

Durham Dales

Durham Dales, County Durham

One of the best winter walks in northern England (or any time of year in fact) is through the wild landscapes of the Durham Dales. As the temperature drops, the two verdant valleys of Teesdale and Weardale, which climb from the patchwork farmland west of Durham to the rugged moorland of the North Pennines, are covered in glistening frost and make for a picture-postcard scene.

Stay nearby: Burnhill Tunstall Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests + 2 dogs

Photo: Helen Cant

Marsham Heath, Norfolk

Marsham Heath, Norfolk

A walk in the woodlands in the winter is a fortifying treat and we’d recommend a holiday in the East of England so you can enjoy a visit to the tall trees and long avenues of Marsham Heath, near Cawston and Aylsham. Take your camera along to capture the beauty at Marsham Heath, and fleeting glimpses of birdlife and wildlife. After a winter woodland walk, head into the warmth of your holiday accommodation to cosy up and plan your next adventure; there are so many things to discover in Norfolk during the winter months. 

Stay nearby: Half Moon Inn | Sleeps: 6 guests 

Photo: Will Ingleton 

The Cloud, Cheshire

The Cloud, Cheshire

The curiously named hill, The Cloud in Congleton, Cheshire is a beauty spot to remember, especially if it has been snowing! It’s a relatively compact walk and the 360-degree views are outstanding. Give yourself a workout as you climb nearly 140 steps through woodlands to the summit of the hill. When the tree cover abates – prepare yourself for magic. The Cloud is a must-visit all year round, but we think it’s a wintertime winner.

Stay nearby: Hunter Retreat - Greenwich House Apartments | Sleeps: 2 guests 

Photo: Yasmin Thomas 

Map of the best places to visit in the UK during winter

Find all of these winter beauty spots on our handy map.

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Stay at a holiday cottage this winter

For more winter inspiration, read some of our other seasonal blogs, or choose one of our self-catering holiday cottages for next winter. Some of our properties are based in exciting locations all across the country, close to some amazing rural beauty spots. Check out our collection of holiday accommodation for winter today.

Winter cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.