Who says hiking is only a three-season activity? From frozen waterfalls to spooky burial chambers – these winter walks will put a spring in your step, even under inches of snow! Whether you’re looking for accessible or challenging, these well-trodden routes have something for everyone.
Pendle Witches Way – 48 miles
From: Sabden, Lancashire via Ribble Valley and Forest of Bowland. To: Lancaster.
England’s most famous and well documented witch trials took place in Lancashire in 1612. This long distance route links the slopes of Pendle Hill, home to the two families of sorcerers, to the place of their imprisonment, Lancaster Castle, and the site of their eventual execution, the village of Golgotha. Apart from being rather apt for this time of year, the walk is also a beautiful one with the Forests of Pendle and Bowland enchanting ramblers along the way.
There are four YHA hostels in the vicinity. YHA Arnside is just a train ride away from Lancaster Castle. YHA Slaidburn is close to the middle section and, alongside YHA Earby and YHA Mankinholes, it’s available on YHA Exclusive Hire for the rest of the season so take any one of these three for yourself to tackle the central or southern sections.
The Haunted Field Walk – 7.5 miles
Circuit: St. Nicholas via Dyffryn Gardens and S Lythan’s
Edwardian gardens, burial chambers older than Stonehenge and a field haunted by the horse that cannot be ridden… step foot into the supernatural with this wonderful walk in the Vale of Glamorgan. The going is easy on this 7.5 mile trail, with sections of gentle farmland and woodland plus an opportunity to visit the splendid Dyffryn Gardens.
If you’re gutsy enough to brave a Halloween visit to the burial chamber of St Lythan’s, any wishes whispered to the stones are said to come true.
Nearby YHA: YHA Cardiff Central
Donna Nook National Reserve – 6.25 miles
From: Grainthorpe Haven in north To: Saltfleet in south
Less a walk than one of the top wildlife highlights of the whole season; this wonderfully windswept stretch of coastline is home to a 3,000-strong grey seal population that’s visible at low tide from mid-October.
Join wildlife enthusiasts from around the world in November and December to watch the seals venture across the sands to pup. Wrap up warm and bring your binoculars, it’s an event you mustn’t miss. Access for the grey seal colony is from the Stonebridge car park.
Nearby YHA: YHA Woody’s Top
Bath Skyline – 6 miles
Circular: Bathwick Hall
Beginning at Bathwick Hill, this 6-mile/3-hour walk is one of the National Trust’s most popular routes. And it’s little wonder when you consider the spectacular views on offer.
One of Britain’s best cities is all laid out beneath you. It’s a great way to get acquainted with architectural splendours from across the ages – from Iron Age hill fort to 18th-century folly. Plus, the hidden valleys, woodlands and meadows encountered along the way are all rich in wildlife.
Nearby YHA: YHA Bath
Walks Around Waterfall Country
Around: Fforest Fawr Geopark
Accessible and with walking routes aplenty, generally speaking, the Brecon Beacons provides an easier alternative to wild Snowdonia at this time of year. And with a little rainfall which, let’s face it, we’re all but guaranteed, Waterfall country will be one of the most breath-taking places to be. Pounding torrents spill from on high in the steep, tree- lined gorges of the Fforest Fawr Geopark. There are many routes to choose from, with a good path network and almost all of the higher ground is open access countryside.
Nearby YHA: YHA Brecon Beacons
Miles Without Stiles: Tarn Hows – 1.8 miles
Circular: Tarn Hows Car Park
Finally to our most accessible route, the level circular around the three mountain pools of Tarn Hows. As to what makes it a great winter walk, well this is one of Lakeland’s most popular spots so firstly, if you visit in the colder months you can more easily avoid the crowds. Plus, when the water freezes and the surrounding hills are dusted with snow, it’s a sight to set spirits soaring.
Simply drive up, park up, and enjoy a stroll that offers the most magnificent views of the Lake District’s mountains for minimal effort.
Nearby YHA: YHA Ambleside
Remember to stay safe during your adventures – read our tips for winter hiking here!