Top winter walks in the UK

Rural, Seasonal, Activity, Walking

Posted by Hannah on 11th December 2023

Two horses stood in a snowy field in the UK

The UK is famous for its outstanding national trails, coastal paths and rural walking routes which are especially scenic in winter. While the flowers of spring, the greenery of summer and the vivid colours of autumn have all disappeared, an early start to the day in winter will be rewarded with mist rising from the lochs, valleys and forests. In fact, winter is a wonderful time for a holiday in the UK.

Winter is an excellent time to get out and explore the natural world, and you'll feel the benefits of soaking up the mild sunshine during the shorter days too. The UK is blessed with a wide array of winter walking routes for you to explore, whether you're looking for winter hikes to get your blood pumping or some more sedate winter walks where you can slow down and truly appreciate the scenery.

We've rounded up some of the best winter walks in the UK to inspire you to get out and explore, even when it's cold outside. Discover some of the most beautiful places to visit in the UK during winter, and if you're looking for a cosy cottage to come back to after your day out in the fresh air, simply click the button below to discover our collection of winter holiday cottages.

Winter cottages

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Best winter walks in England

The rocky beach at Heddon Valley on a winter's day

Heddon Valley, North Devon

Set on the coast, backed by Exmoor National Park, Heddon Valley offers a stunning walk. One of our favourite winter walks in England, you can take in the crisp, fresh air while exploring the route’s diverse landscape from the wooded valley all the way through to the rocky beach. It's also possible to hire a 'tramper' mobility scooter through the National Trust, and the footpath down to Heddon's Mouth is maintained for trampers and pushchairs. After your wander, pop into the local pub, The Hunters Inn, for a cosy pub lunch. Both North and South Devon are packed with beautiful walks like this one, so why not take a look at our guide to the best Devon walks?

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Beacon Down, Lynton & Lynmouth | sleeps 6

Trees at Wistman’s Wood covered in snow

Two Bridges to Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor

If you’d like to explore the mysterious Dartmoor landscape, this circular footpath is truly enchanting for winter walks in the UK. Passing over farmsteads and open moorland, this bracing route leads you to the mystical oaks of Wistman’s Wood. Even on a bleak winter’s day, this twisting woodland is like something out of a fairy tale.

Distance: 10 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: Widecombe Swallows, Widecombe-in-the-Moor | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs 

A frosty scene of Corfe Castle at sunrise

Corfe Castle, Dorset

This spectacular walk to Corfe Castle, one of the UK’s most photographed sites, makes for a pretty special winter walk. If you’re an early riser, catch the mist hanging over the ruins and a beautiful sunrise. If you’d like a lengthy jaunt, walk from Corfe Castle Square all the way to Kimmeridge Bay on the  South West Coast Path. For more wonderful walks in Dorset, take a look at our guide to the area. 

Distance: Variable - 1.5 or 5 miles 

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Jasmine Cottage Corfe, Corfe Castle | sleeps 5

Worcestershire Beacon covered in snow

Worcestershire Beacon, Malvern Hills 

The view from the top of Worcestershire Beacon is well worth the climb. This 4.5-mile hike through the Malvern Hills is an idyllic winter walking route, with far-reaching views over the Severn Valley. Start your jaunt at the Upper Wyche village and climb 425 metres to enjoy the most spectacular views. It's truly one of the most scenic walks in Worcestershire. 

Distance: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Pump Street Cottage, Malvern | sleeps 4 + 1 dog 

A bird at Blakeney Freshes

Blakeney Freshes, Norfolk

Set on the North Norfolk Coast Path, this wild winter walk stretches across Blakeney Freshes Reserve. On a cold morning, catch the mist rising from the marshes and look out for flocks of golden plovers and other resident birdlife. The perfect family-friendly winter walk. From Blakeney, you can also take a lovely walk to Cley next the Sea, via the Norfolk Coast Path and take in iconic sights such as Cley's fabulous windmill.

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Waters Rush, Blakeney | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Views across the snow-covered countryside at Chatsworth

Bakewell to Chatsworth, Peak District

This lovely route is one of the best Peak District walks to embark on in the winter. Starting in Bakewell, you’ll take in the Monsal Trail and stroll through the wonderful village of Edensor, ending up at the glorious Chatsworth House. With two distances to choose from, you can pick the route that suits you and treat yourself to tea and cake In Edensor, or perhaps take a tour of Chatsworth itself.

Distance: 6 or 8 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Romary, Bakewell | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

The ruins of Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

When it comes to top Yorkshire walks in the winter, the 5-mile walk at Fountains Abbey is truly beautiful. Leading you through a medieval deer park, home to wild red, fallow and sika deer, the circular route passes the 18th-century Studley Royal Water Garden and has wonderful views over Ripon and the mysterious North York Moors. As one of the most popular destinations in the UK, Yorkshire has plenty to do all year round; take a look at our guide to winter days out for more inspiration. 

Distance: 5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Brown Hare Cottage, Ripon | sleeps 2 + 1 dog

A view of a bridge in the Lake District with snow-covered fells behind

Walla Crag to Ashness Bridge, Cumbria

Passing over the lake of Derwentwater, the jewel of the Lake District, this is one of the best winter walks for showcasing some of the region’s finest scenery. Stop at  Ashness Bridge with Skiddaw as its backdrop, one of the Lake District’s most photographed places. With scenery as spectacular as this, you’re guaranteed a magnificent view, whatever the season. And if you're visiting the Lake District and packing your walking boots, why not take a look at our guide to the best walks in the Lake District?

Distance: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Barrow Gate, Borrowdale | Sleeps 5 + 2 dogs

Sawrey in the Lake District in the winter

Beatrix Potter Walk, Lake District

One of the best winter walks for literary fans, the Beatrix Potter trail covers numerous sites with links to the author, including her home, the wooded fells of Claife Heights and the western shore of Lake Windermere. The walk is perfect if you’re looking for a way to warm up while taking in the sights and sounds of the Lake District. And if you're visiting the Lake District and packing your walking boots, why not take a look at our guide to the best walks in the Lake District? 

Distance: 13 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: The Old Vicarage, Sawrey | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Tintern Abbey surrounded by mist

Tintern Abbey and Devil’s Pulpit, Wye Valley

The spectacular ruins of the 12th-century Cistercian abbey are a sight to behold in every season, but in the winter, it is truly magnificent. On a crisp morning, with the mist settling over the River Wye, this route allows you to see the abbey ruins in all their splendour and is one of the most unforgettable walks in winter. Be sure to stop for a breather at the Devil's Pulpit, which offers glorious views of the abbey and Wye Valley. 

Distance: 7.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Maybury, near Tintern | sleeps 2

Best winter walks in Wales

Looking out on the snow-covered landscape around Table Mountain

Crickhowell to Table Mountain, Brecon Beacons/Bannau Brycheiniog

This fabulous winter Brecon Beacons walk is well worth the effort for the spectacular views when you reach the top. From Crickhowell, you’ll follow a tree-lined path beside Cumbeth Brook, heading out onto open hillside. The 380-metre ascent ensures breathtaking scenery as you look down on the town and across the Usk Valley. Spend some time exploring the remains of the Iron Age hillfort – Crug Hywel – which gave Crickhowell its name.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Stay nearby: Grape Lodge, Crickhowell | sleeps 2 + 1 dog

A snow-capped Pen y Fan set against blue sky

Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons

Possibly one of the most popular walking and hiking spots in Wales, Pen y Fan attracts visitors at all times of year. There are many route options to choose from, depending on the time available and what you want out of the walk. The winter weather is also a factor for consideration. They vary in difficulty, from a pleasant 4-miler to a demanding 10-mile trek, so there is something to suit everyone. Our guide to Brecon Beacons walks provides further inspiration.

Distance: Variable

Difficulty: Easy to challenging

Stay nearby: Yr Daflod, Brecon | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Walkers look down on an icy Cwm Idwal, with snow covering the surrounding landscape

Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia/Eryri National Park

Of all the Snowdonia/Eryri walks available, Cwm Idwal is among the most special. A visit to this glacial valley will leave you with a sense of wonder, as you witness the result of geological activity that happened millions of years ago. It’s a very popular spot for walkers, climbers and all manner of scientists, including Charles Darwin. There are two routes available, providing options depending on your level of walking experience.    

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Llyn Dinas Lodge, Betws-y-Coed | sleeps 4

A misty view of the Usk Valley at sunrise

Clytha Estate, Monmouthshire 

Embark on a circular walk through this 18th-century estate and you will feel a sense of peace as you explore the serene landscape. Take your time and drink in the views of the Usk Valley and across Clytha Park to Clytha Castle. During the route, you’ll come across intriguing sights, including the remains of St Aeddan's Chapel (Capel Aedan), founded in 1188 by Aedan of Gwaethfoed. 

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Cae Deini, Raglan | sleeps 4

Best winter walks in Scotland

Loch Ness surrounded by snowy mountains

The South Loch Ness Trail, Scottish Highlands

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie through the winter morning mist, the South Loch Ness Trail is perfect. Starting just outside Fort Augustus, the trail leads you through years of myth and legend, as well as past beautiful wildlife and woodland. As the peaceful 'undiscovered' side of Loch Ness, this magical trail is perfect for winter walking holidays.

Distance: 28 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: Cawdor Cottage, Fort Augustus | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

A winter scene of Loch Morlich

Loch Morlich, Cairngorms National Park

High on the list of winter walks in the Cairngorms is this circular walk around this beautiful loch. Starting out from Loch Morlich car park, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of the northern Cairngorm mountains as you trek through this winter wonderland. Perhaps there might be some snow to make things feel even more magical! The tranquil ambience is further enhanced by being in the lush Glenmore Forest.  

Distance: Just under 4 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Wood Haus, Aviemore | sleeps 6 + 1 dog

The winter sun shines through the trees in the woods at Callendar Park

Callendar Wood, Falkirk

This lovely winter walk in Scotland takes you through centuries-old woodland that’s part of Callendar Park. On the Yew Trail, there are plenty of intriguing sights, including the Forbes family mausoleum set above Callendar Loch. Make a fun game out of spotting the different trees in the woods as you stroll along the well-maintained, wide path. For even more family entertainment, there is a play area and crazy golf within the park, as well as pedalos.   

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy 

Stay nearby: Ochil View, Falkirk | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

An image of a snow-tipped Stac Pollaidh taken from below

Stac Pollaidh, North Highlands

A truly fantastic winter walk in Scotland, this circuit goes around Stac Pollaidh. Expect magnificent views in all directions, including out to the Summer Isles and over the rugged landscape of Assynt. The more adventurous can take the short but steep climb up to the summit, but this final stage is tricky and should only be tackled by experienced scramblers.     

Distance: Just under 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Stay nearby: Macleod Chalet, Lochinver | sleeps 4

Discover the UK this winter

Now you have a list of the best UK winter walks, it's time to get out and explore. Winter is a brilliant time for a UK holiday, where you can enjoy visiting some of the most popular attractions away from the crowds of the summer. Plus, we have a wide range of cosy cottages in which you can cuddle up after your adventures. Click the button below to find your perfect place to stay on a winter holiday in the UK. 

Cottages for winter

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.