Stunning Winter Hikes to Enjoy this Season

Jack Kelly16 min readWalking

Winter really transforms a trail. To celebrate this sensational season and inspire you to pull on your hiking boots we’ve reached out to a few adventurers in our social community to hear about their favourite winter hike; plus, get their top tips on heading outdoors this season. Whether you’re searching for a festive walk or your first hike of the New Year, take a look at these stunning winter trails.

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The Lake District

I’m always drawn back to the beauty of The Lake District; a beauty that only gets more enchanting with its winter coat on.

Grisedale Pike & Hopegill Head: Recommended by Katy Tunney

Route Overview: Grisedale Pike rises dramatically over the small village of Braithwaite, close to Keswick. Reaching the summit of Grisedale Pike can be achieved along a selection of routes which vary in difficulty and distance, many of which are looped.

Katy says: “Of all the places I’ve ever hiked, I’m always drawn back to the beauty of The Lake District; a beauty that only gets more enchanting with its winter coat on. I’ve hiked many of The Lake District fells in lots of varying conditions, but never in the snow so my latest trip was a real treat. Familiar views of Skiddaw and the Western Fells were completely transformed and offered a new, even more dramatic view.

Knowing that this would be my first ridge walk in the snow, I made sure to go well equipped with the appropriate outdoor clothing and equipment to stay warm, dry and safe on the fells. As with any hike, it’s important to plan and research the route in advance and let someone know where you’re going. It’s also important to check the forecast and consider sunrise/sunset times. Even in the summer months I like to pack a headtorch, just in case!

The beauty of Grisdale Pike is that there are several looped routes to choose from. They all vary in distance and difficulty, so if the challenge of the Coledale horseshoe doesn’t take your fancy, a descent through Whinlatter Forest provides a much shorter walk. My route for the day took the onwards journey on to Hopegill Head and returned via Coledale which made for a very enjoyable day’s hiking and one I’ll never forget.”

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The vistas across Glencoe are magnificent as the Aonach Eagach Ridge is probably one of the best view points in the glen.

Aonach Eagach, Glencoe: Recommended by Liam Campbell

Route Overview: Aonach Eagach is an exposed and challenging ridge lying to the north of Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands. It boasts two Munro summits (Meall Dearg and Sgòrr nam Fiannaidh) which are thrilling, giving experienced scramblers a grade 2/3 scramble. High fitness level and scrambling skill is required.

Liam says: “Glencoe has got to be my favourite place for a winter adventure! It offers breath-taking scenery especially in winter and with it being just over an hour away from my home it’s a favourite because it has a vast selection of walks and climbs up tremendous peaks, making it the perfect destination for me!

One of my favourite winter routes in Glencoe is the Aonach Eagach, a narrow ridge crossing the northern skyline of Glencoe, taking in two Munro's. The ridge, an incredible experience during any season, truly becomes an epic and challenging adventure in winter. It's snowy ridges, knife edge pinnacles and sections of short climbing combine to give a mountaineering feel! I've been on the Aonach Eagach many of times and it never fails to impress, especially when you catch incredible conditions and you’re surrounded by panoramic views. The vistas across Glencoe are magnificent as the Aonach Eagach Ridge is probably one of the best view points in the glen, towering above Loch Achtriochtan and the A82 road, with Bidean Nam Bian and Stob Coire Screamach dominating the skyline to the south. On the north side the views stretch over the Mamore Range to Ben Nevis and its neighbouring peaks, even as far as the Cuillin Ridge on Skye.

Managing to catch a sunrise or sunset (or both!) in winter always makes your day that little bit more special. That golden light reflecting off the snowy peaks and that silence accompanied by the fresh thin air just after sun set creates truly magical moments! Not one for the faint hearted, this route is something to build up to as it is a demanding grade 2/3 scramble.

Winter is without a doubt my favourite season on the hills; the views are spectacular and I love the added challenge! Planning and ensuring you have the correct equipment is fundamental during winter. No matter what I am heading to the hills for in winter, I’ll always have the following as a minimum: crampons, ice axe, head torch, warm layers, map and compass. I’ll always check weather forecasts, including the Avalanche Forecasts on the Be Avalanche Aware app, before I plan for a specific summit.

The days are short through the winter season so accounting for time is important and always having that headtorch and spare batteries in your pack will come in handy! Gradually grow your skills and experience during winter, don't be afraid to message folk and ask to join them on hikes, ask for advice; plus, there are plenty of videos on YouTube by the BMC to help you grow your skills. The Aonach Eagach Ridge should only be attempted by experienced winter hillwalkers and hikers. Most importantly, the mountains will always be there, so if you’re not feeling it, turn back. Don't take unnecessary risks in winter. Hope everyone has an amazing winter season!”

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The Peak District

Nestled above Greenfield Reservoir, this fantastic rock formation with a view is certainly worth visiting.

The Trinnacle (Saddleworth Moor): Recommended by Joe Dambra

Route Overview: The Trinnacle is an isolated three-pronged rock formation which soars impressively above the Greenfield Valley, Dovestone Reservoir and Yeoman Hey Reservoir. Located on the north-western edge of the Peak District National Park, this impressive viewing platform is a spectacular monument which forms part of the Trinnacle Trail (a 7.9km loop).

Joe says: “The Trinnacle has got to be one of my favourite places to go for a winter hike. Nestled above Greenfield Reservoir, this fantastic rock formation with a view is certainly worth visiting. Personally, I like to start the hike from Binn Green Car Park. From there you go clockwise, past Greenfield Reservoir, then climb the brook up onto the moors. Follow the moors for around 20 minutes and you will have arrived at the Trinnacle.

The scenery around here is spectacular, especially when you reach the top. The walk itself is quite easy, bar the climb up the brook (particularly in the snow). There are great vistas to enjoy the whole way there; however, the view from the Trinnacle itself is my absolute favourite!

If you are new hiker looking to explore in the snow, I would recommend getting snow spikes as they make a massive difference. It makes life a lot easier; saving you from hiking looking like Bambi. You will also need lots of layers (definitely breathable) as when hiking uphill you will get warm very quickly. Each time you stop, you’ll be thankful that you bought those extra layers such as a fleece and insulated jacket. Enjoy the views, hike safe. And for anyone interested in taking photos up there, sunset is the best time to go!”

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The Lake District

The snow completely transforms the landscape and makes everything feel new and exciting.

Sca fell & Mickledore: Recommended by Michael Lazenby

Route Overview: Mickledore is a narrow and challenging ridge which connects the mountains of Sca Fell and Scafell Pike. This pass connects the valleys of Wasdale and Eskdale, acting as a dramatic and exciting route for those looking to scale Scafell Pike (England’s Highest Mountain) along a more adventurous route.

Michael says: “The southern fells of The Lake District are some of my favourite mountains in the UK. They offer an incredible, dramatic landscape that only gets better during winter. One of my favourite mountains in this area is Sca Fell. The hike up to Mickledore Ridge, which bridges Sca Fell to Scafell Pike is an exhilarating hike in all seasons, but especially in winter. The narrow gully up to the ridge makes for a challenging but fun climb that will make full use of your hands and feet! Once you make it up to the Mickledore, the view of Sca Fell towers over you.

Winter is my favourite season to be in the mountains. The snow completely transforms the landscape and makes everything feel new and exciting. That being said, it’s important to come prepared with the right equipment. Layers, layers and more layers! Having a proper coat that will keep you warm is essential, as well as tools such as crampons and an ice axe in case you need them. Always remember to stay within your own limits and do not do anything you feel uncomfortable with; especially if you’re on your own. Buddying up with someone is best. Being prepared will mean you’ll have an even better time in the snowy mountains this season.”

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The Yorkshire Dales

The landscape of the Dales lends itself to winter photography.

Wensleydale, The Yorkshire Dales: Recommended by Wendy McDonnell

Route Overview: The circular walk from the National Park Centre at Aysgarth in Wensleydale takes in three flights of waterfalls; a popular route for Wordsworth, Turner and Ruskin. This relaxing hike is a favourite with photographers looking to capture that prize picture.

Wendy says: “Winter is my favourite season in The Yorkshire Dales. The landscape of the Dales lends itself to winter photography with an ancient landscape, limestone features and raw beauty that comes alive in the snow.

A favourite local hike for me is a 6-mile route starting at Aysgarth Falls, then taking in the scenery of Wensleydale and a stop by Cauldron Falls in West Burton. Aysgarth has been a visitor location for over 200 years and for good reason. Both these falls were painted by the well-known British painter, Turner in 1816. This walk would normally only take 2-3 hours but when you are taking photographs you tend to stop a lot and time can drift by very easily so always be aware of the time and know when sunset is. Particularly in winter, the Dales can be quiet so let someone know where you are walking and when you will be back.

Landscape photographers spend a lot of time standing around - usually waiting for that special light. For this reason, you need to dress for cold conditions up and carry layers - more than you might usually take if just walking. In particular, make sure you have warm footwear, gloves and a hat. Ideally, if you’re taking your camera, you need gloves you can easily take on and off to use your equipment. Take a warm drink and some food with you - you will find that your creativity soon wanes if you are hungry! And above all, enjoy looking for those winter shots!”

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The mountains are a stunning place in the winter so don't just pack the boots away until summer.

The Glyderau, Snowdonia: Recommended by Phil & Sam

Route Overview: The Glyderau is a mountain range in Snowdonia, North Wales. The range is smaller than the Carneddau, with only 11 peaks over 600m, but it is a fantastic range for walkers. This rocky range has multiple access points along the Ogwen Valley and also from the Llanberis pass.

Phil says: “My favourite place in the UK for a winter hike has to be the Snowdonia National Park. In particular, my go to area is The Ogwen Valley in the North of Snowdonia. This area is full of some of the best circular winter walks the UK has to offer, and also some fantastic winter ridge routes and scrambles.

My favourite winter route is a circular route of the Glyderau, an iconic mountain range in North Wales featuring Y Garn, Glyder Fawr, Castell y Gwynt, and Glyder Fach. This circular trail offers so much variation and unreal views across Snowdonia, in particular from Y Garn where on a clear day you're treated to 360° views of Snowdonia.

If you're a new hiker and keen on adventuring outdoors this winter in Snowdonia, here are a few tips. Always have a plan B, if conditions once you arrive in Wales have taken a turn, then a more manageable route should always be considered, perhaps a low down walk of Llyn Idwal (a huge and atmospheric lake in the Ogwen Valley), or check out the forests in Betws y Coed.

Next big thing I'd say is remember daylight hours are a lot shorter in winter so make sure you arrive early and have a good idea of how long on average the route your planning will take. Also do you have good navigation skills for the winter; if it goes dark or you end up in a white out can you get yourself down and off the mountain safely? There are so many great winter skills and navigation courses available through various companies in Snowdonia which might be worth checking out if you need the training to be more confident and efficient in the hills.

Another aspect of hiking which becomes particularly important during winter is the layering system. First we have our base layer which ideally will be a material that wicks away moisture, my favourite is a merino wool long sleeve top. Then we have our mid layer which is usually a warm and comfortable fleece. Finally, we have our outer layer, usually a hard shell Jacket in winter to protect from the elements. Then you should consider your accessories such as hats, gloves, spare socks etc. and even an insulated down coat in your bag in case you have to be stationary for a while in harsh conditions.

The mountains are a stunning place in the winter so don't just pack the boots away until summer, get the skills and info you need and get out there and enjoy the stunning scenery the UK has to offer this winter.”

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