‘Frost glazes the reeds and trees’: 10 UK winter walks suggested by readers

Gorge-side walk in Brunel’s Bristol

Start in the Christmas-card-perfect Clifton village, with its boutique shops and cafes, then venture to the observatory, where Brunel’s suspension bridge lies before you. Follow the contours of the gorge for more precipitous views, spotting climbers, peregrine falcons and goats along the way. Continue to the sea wall and you will be rewarded with sunset views over distant Wales. Follow the winding road back across the broad and beautiful Downs, sunset at your back.

Pennines pastoral to Alston, Cumbria

Hartside Moor near Alston.
Hartside Moor near Alston. Photograph: John Morrison/Alamy

With the Lake District so popular, Cumbria’s North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the east is a quieter alternative for walkers. Isaac’s Tea Trail links Alston, one of England’s highest market towns, with gorgeous Allendale. It winds beside the little River Nent; stone farmhouses blending into the landscape, barn owls skimming walled pastures. One hundred steps down through woods, Nent Hall or Lovelady Shield offer warming brews, then walkers can watch water sliding beneath the ice as the footpath continues past waterfalls for the two miles to Alston.

Heritage and coastal beauty, Cornwall

Towanroath Pump Engine House at Wheal Coates.
Towanroath Pump Engine House at Wheal Coates. Photograph: Andrew Ray/Alamy

The South West Coast Path has many great walks but our local is from Trevaunance Cove, in St Agnes, up along the headland towards Chapel Porth Beach. Passing the area’s mining heritage, there’s a spectacular view towards Godrevy lighthouse and St Ives as you come over the brow of the cliff path approaching Wheal Coates engine house ruins. Once at Chapel, you can stop for a “croque” sandwich at the cafe before walking along the beach at low tide to Porthtowan village.


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Walking a broad, Norfolk

Whitlingham Broad.
Whitlingham Broad. Photograph: Tosh/Alamy

Whitlingham Broad is a lovely place to walk at any time of year, but particularly in winter when frost glazes the reeds and trees, and it’s all reflected in the waters of the broad. There’s a path that takes you round the broad, which is suitable for most walkers. The sight and sound of the abundant waterfowl and other birds will add to your enjoyment as you stroll. There’s also a small cafe in a barn for a hot drink at the end.
Sarah Warren

History, and hounds, Stroud, Gloucestershire

Looking from Rodborough Common towards Woodchester.
Looking from Rodborough Common towards Woodchester. Photograph: Mike South/Alamy

Our favourite walk is across Rodborough Common on the hills above Stroud in Gloucestershire. It offers great views across the River Severn to Wales. In the valley below is Woodchester, the site of the villa of a Roman governor. Buried there is what’s thought to be the second largest Roman mosaic in Europe. Neither can be seen now, yet that history still haunts the walk. There is also the Dog Tree. Every year the locals adorn it with Christmas decorations. People add poignant messages about their dogs who have passed away. It brings a tear to your eye.
Andy Ferrari

Explore the Monk’s Moors, Northumberland

Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland.
Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland

The eerie moors above Blanchland, including Monk’s Moor, are at their best in winter. The low sun casts long shadows over frosty heather, and the almost-human calls of grouse echo. Head north from Blanchland and turn south-west at Slaley forest on the Carriers’ Way to experience the instant quiet from the cover of pine trees. The silence is interrupted only by robins hopping from tree to tree and deer galloping between them. When the path meets the River Derwent, follow the valley back to Blanchland where a pint awaits in front of the roaring fire at the Lord Crewe Arms.
Lauren Shields

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Crested tits and hoar frost in the Cairngorms

An Lochan Uaine.
An Lochan Uaine. Photograph: Andrew Cawley/Alamy

The simplest route through the Caledonian pinewoods towards An Lochan Uaine takes you past the paddocks of the reindeer centre on a well-surfaced footpath below the granite bulk of Meall a’ Bhuachaille, with hoar frost coating the vegetation. I find it difficult not to become excited by the cheerful trill of the crested tits who make their home here. The green pool itself, sheltered on all sides, can be still in all but the worst of winter weather. The return allows good views of Loch Morlich, Cairngorm, and the notch of the Chalamain Gap on the horizon.

Devon sent, for sea views and a swim

Noss Mayo at low tide.
Noss Mayo at low tide. Photograph: David A Eastley/Alamy

When the cold sets in, my favourite winter warmer is a coastal walk to Stoke Beach in south Devon. Starting in the picturesque village of Noss Mayo, the setting of a cosy drama starring Dawn French (The Trouble with Maggie Cole), head up the hill where you will be greeted by sea views. Hugging the coast on the left you will discover the mysterious 13th-century Church of St Peter the Poor Fisherman. Hardy and experienced swimmers may fancy a dip here before returning around the path and ending up with a hearty lunch at The Ship Inn back in the village.

Amazed by Armagh’s mountain mosaic

The Slieve Gullion passage tomb.
The Slieve Gullion passage tomb. Photograph: Wirestock/Getty Images

To climb a snow-tipped Slieve Gullion, County Armagh’s Mountain of Mystery, is to better understand the craggy, poetic landscapes from which Ireland’s rich mythology is hewn. Rising out of a patchwork of fen and wetland, Gullion in winter is a mosaic of colour; crystalline hoar frost contrasting with vibrant, kaleidoscopic purples and ochres of upland heather, bracken and gorse. Verdant forest trails and sheer, serpentine mountain paths weave through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, past fairy mounds, cruciform passage tombs and ancient burial cairns. Ascending the summit reveals the lough of the Calliagh Berra where, according to legend, Finn McCool was bewitched by Miluchra and whose waters maintain their enchanting lure.
Conor Brady

Winning tip: a seafront South Shields stroll

Marsden Bay just south of South Shields.
Marsden Bay near South Shields. Photograph: Alphotographic/Getty Images

The walk from Sunderland to South Shields is a delight. From St Peter’s station you descend to the banks of the River Wear, passing the National Glass Centre and marina, and then to the coast. Following a straight line up to Shields you pass various lighthouses, sculptures and, of course, chip shops. The Marsden Grotto pub offers an old cliff lift and a vista to the seafront, taking in a wealth of avian activity and Tynemouth Priory and Castle to the north. It’s quite special in the winter.
Tom Whelan

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