Make the most of your winter walking holiday!

Whether you’re a keen hiker or you’re just looking to go on a rural retreat with the whole family, the freezing temperatures needn’t put you off arranging a winter walking holiday. Wrapping up warm in your down-filled garments and knitwear to brave the frosty temperatures is a sure-fire way to get the New Year off to a great start, while a post-seasonal getaway can provide you with the perfect opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of the back-to-work period – or give you time to recover from a fortnight of in-laws and extended families!

Whether you’re escaping the country or planning a getaway somewhere more familiar making the most of some quality time apart is a great way to ensure that you return feeling refreshed and ready to face the challenges of a new year. That’s why we asked our friends from Cottages in Northumberland to bring you a handful of hiking holiday tips – so that you can take full advantage of your next active break!

1. Plan activities and rest stops in advance

Failing to plan is planning to fail, and while some may say that’s a cliché, this phrase couldn’t be more apt for a winter walking holiday. When daylight is limited to only a few hours, and with winter weather conditions at their most treacherous, planning your hiking holiday will mean you can make the most out of your adventure - as well as ensuring the safety of your walking party. Breaking up the journey with activities en route will provide the perfect opportunity to see the area in greater detail - and marking out designated rest stops means that your route will cater for hikers of all abilities. From gaining insight into the local culture to taking a well-earned rest at a historical landmark, planning your route in detail means you’ll see all of the area’s outstanding beauty - and reach your accommodation before dusk falls!

2. Consider your accommodation options

Whether you’re an avid explorer or a complete beginner when it comes to hiking, a day spent in the country will leave you wanting to explore more of the stunning natural landscapes. From exploring all that the Cotswolds has to offer to taking an active break in Northumberland, a winter walking holiday provides the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones as you discover the area’s breathtaking scenery. After a long day of exploring, cosying up in front of the fire in your home-from-home will be a welcomed treat, so ensure that you factor the location of your accommodation into each day’s walking route.

3. Explore the undiscovered outdoors

As the seasons change, so will the scenery, meaning the same route will reveal a diverse array of spectacular views during both the summer and winter months. So, whether you take the opportunity to explore pastures new or revisit a favourite hiking hotspot, embrace the cold weather to see the natural landscape in a whole new light. As the nights draw in and temperatures plunge, consider adapting your hike to suit the season. From shortening the route to opting for less challenging terrain, a wintertime walk means you can discover the delights of nature in far greater detail - as well as keep health and safety at the forefront of your adventure.

4. Stock up on the essential walking gear

Whether you have years of hiking experience or are a complete beginner looking to take to new heights, looking the part means that, more often than not, you’ll feel the part. From walking poles to durable footwear, investing in all the essential hiking equipment will mean you can keep safe and comfortable - as well as make the most out of your experience. From peak fitness levels to the condition of your equipment, it’s crucial that you come prepared when taking a hike, and to ensure that your high-quality walking gear continues to perform time and time again, take the time to care for your garments after each hike.

5. Take the time to refuel

With everything from challenging terrain and colder climates to tackle, you must ensure that you and your fellow trekkers are in peak condition. Get off to a good start with a breakfast that’s high in slow-releasing carbohydrates - such as fresh fruits, nuts and oats. To keep energy levels high throughout the day, make sure that you’ve packed plenty of snacks into your day bag - so you’re fully prepared when hunger strikes. Whether you opt for a picnic lunch in rural settings or stop for a bite to eat in a quaint country pub, taking regular breaks to refuel will give you all the energy you need to discover all the delights that the route has to offer.

Freezing temperatures and limited daylight may mean many of us are wrapping up in front of the fire indoors, but with the season transforming the UK’s natural landscape into a winter wonderland, there’s never been a better time to take a hike in the great outdoors!