The joys of a winter walk
Winter has a beauty all of its own. Brave the cold and you’ll be rewarded with landscapes transformed by low sunlight and dustings of frost. Through leafless trees, you’ll see new views and distant horizons. Wildlife is easier to spot in the stillness of a winter woodland and, after a long walk on a chilly day, there’s the promise of a cosy pub with a crackling fire.
We spoke to some of the experts at Cotswold Outdoor about their favourite winter walks and the essential kit that helps them keep warm.
Red squirrel spotting at Allan Bank and Grasmere, Cumbria
Rachel Kearns, Cotswold Outdoor’s Regional Marketing Representative for the Lake District
Rachel lives in the Lake District National Park and says she’s spoilt for choice when it comes to winter walks, but a chance to get close to wildlife makes Grasmere special.
“A trip to Grasmere and a visit to the Allan Bank House is one of our favourite family days out for a bit of red squirrel spotting. During the colder months they leave the tree canopies to forage for food.
“The walk around Grasmere village and lake is a really good option in bad winter weather. You can seek refuge and you're not getting up too high or moving across dangerous terrain.
Rachel also thinks a visit to a welcoming pub makes a great ending to a day spent exploring.
“The National Trust own and run Sticklebarn pub in Langdale valley, one of my favourites. You can sit outside with a blanket provided by the pub and sup mulled wine by the fire pit.
And the bit of kit she’d most recommend for a hike in cold weather? Her trusty buff.
“A buff is such a versatile piece of kit and can make a big difference to your comfort levels in all types of weather. Mine gets used as a neck warmer, head band, emergency beanie and a mouth, nose and ear guard in cold winds.”
Snow-covered peaks at Kinder, Edale and the Dark Peak, Derbyshire
Kate Smith, Assistant Manager at the Nottingham Cotswold Outdoor store
“The moorland plant life in the Peak District changes colour dramatically in winter,” says Kate, “It completely transforms the atmosphere of the area.
“A favourite winter walk that brings back many happy memories is a circular route starting and finishing in Edale, via the Kinder Plateau and Jacob’s Ladder.
“I once walked the route on a sunny day with full snow cover. Icicles had formed along the brook, the wind had created beautiful patterns and I was lucky enough to spot several mountain hares blending with the landscape in their white winter coats."
Kate always brings an insulated jacket with her on a winter walk: "My old favourite is my Rab Plasma Hoodie, a synthetic-filled jacket that’s great on a damp day. If the weather’s clear then I’ll bring my Montane Featherlite Down Jacket. It’s really warm but it packs up so small.
“Once you reached the top, the views across the snow-covered plateau were amazing.”
Atmospheric scenery at Slindon Estate, Surrey
Timothy Elstone, Assistant Manager and Local Marketing Representative at the Chichester Cotswold Outdoor store
As well as an outdoor expert and walking enthusiast, Timothy is a Scout Leader who loves visiting Slindon Estate with his troop.
“As a rugged area with easy-going hills and clearly marked routes, walking here makes for a happy experience any time of the year, but in the colder weather it’s especially picturesque.
“There’s a beautiful folly which looks stunning in the hazy morning light. If you stand under its arch, you can gaze over frosty fields out to sea, and the sound of the crows nesting reminds me of atmospheric childhood novels. You’ll see wildlife like deer and owls too.”
His essential bit of kit is a portable camp stove to help stave off the cold from the inside out: “I always hike with my Zip Jetboil. Without fail, there’s always a need for coffee or hot chocolate.”
Inspiring the nation to explore
As our official outdoor retail partner, Cotswold Outdoor is supporting us to look after coast and countryside. Don’t forget, National Trust supporters receive 15 per cent discount* at Cotswold Outdoor, in store and online.*
*This is not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Selected lines are exempt. This offer is redeemable on production of your National Trust membership card in store or email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a discount code to use online. Offer expires 31/12/17.