Yes, it’s cold. Yes, it’s dark but a Winter adventure is one of my absolute favourite things. Right outside our back doors are natural winter wonderlands beckoning to be explored. If the thought of the snow, frost and occasional sunshine isn’t enough to convince you to set off on your own voyage of chilly discovery, then maybe these ten reasons will.
1. The Winter Sunrise
I am as much a fan of a sunrise adventure as much as the next person but I’m also a fan of my bed. In Summer I’ve seen myself rising at 2am in order to catch my 4am sunrise shots but Winter holds the perfect solution to the sleep vs adventure dilemma. Sunrise is now around 8:30am which means a longer lie without sacrificing the incredible views of a hilltop at dawn.
Nothing quite compares to your first sunrise experience, it is a magical moment that you will try to recreate for the rest of your life. No sunrise is ever alike and that is what makes them so individually magical in their own way.
2. Magical Light All Day Long
If, for you, photography and adventure go hand in hand then the best light is to be found during the Winter months. All year round Britain experiences some of the best light in the world for Landscape photographers to take advantage of, when it’s not raining, but December to February holds the key to the perfect Landscape lighting. If Golden Hour is the last hour of light before the day’s end, then Winter is the Golden Hour of the seasons before the year’s end. The sun is low in the sky creating dramatic shadows and eerie light throughout the day and by the end of golden hour you will have witnessed the most spectacularly light you have ever seen.
OK true, British wildlife is around throughout the year, but there is something truly special about seeing a deer against a stark white background of freshly fallen snow. Walking the trails in the winter months makes you feel like Jack Skeleton when he suddenly stumbles upon Christmas Land in A Nightmare Before Christmas, but instead of presents under trees it is Robbins and Deer waiting to be discovered. Even if you are significantly lacking in the snow department, Winter is the best time of year for wildlife tracking adventurers. Without the overgrown Summer foliage to conceal the tracks of badgers, foxes, otters etc. it is much easier to spot the signs of these wonderful animals on the paths we share. The soft ground created by Winter’s constant freeze and thaw creates the perfect conditions for practicing your animal tracking.
4. It’s Oh So Quiet
For obvious reasons people are drawn to Britain’s great outdoors far more during the Summer months; sun, sea and dive bombing seagulls anyone? Well I say more fool them, but this does leave those of us willing to brace the cold with the place to ourselves (pretty much anyways). The lack of people lends itself to a more unique experience with wildlife more likely to appear, trails less crowded and it's unlikely anyone will wander into the panoramic shot of the beautiful landscape you are currently trying to take.
5. The Winter Sunset
There is no doubt in my mind that a winter Sunset is the most beautiful Sunset of all. At this time of year, the sky seems to spontaneously combust into reds and oranges like you wouldn’t believe and the deep dark winter clouds only add to the drama of the moment creating powerful shadows, letting light through only where they see fit and reflecting the burning sky in all it’s grandeur. Hiking high and looking down upon the sunset itself is a personal favourite of mine. Alternatively walking along a near deserted beach and watching the sun disappear behind the waves comes in a close second. Combine the two and you have the ultimate sunset experience (I recommend the Isle of Skye for this particular combination).
6. After Dark.
Winter night skies are bright, clear and wonderfully crisp which makes for the perfect stargazing camping trip (just make sure to wrap up warm! My adventure beanie is never far from me at this time of the year).
With a number of named “Dark Sky Discovery” areas across the U.K. you won’t be short of options when it comes to your night time adventure. These areas are awarded their title based on their lack of light pollution and ease of public access meaning at the very minimum they provide you with a view of Orion’s Belt and at their absolute best offer you the perfectly clear view of the Milky Way with just the naked eye.
7. The Northern Lights.
Continuing on from point six Winter is the absolute best season to see the Northern Lights over Britain. The long, dark nights and cold clear skies are the perfect conditions for viewing the Aurora. Of course Scotland is the best place in Britain to spot the display - lying across the same latitude as Norway and Alaska means that it's in an ideal position for the natural light show. The further North you go and the later you are prepared to stay awake the more likely you are to see this magnificent natural phenomenon.
8. Mountains Great and Small.
Much like the wildlife, Britain’s hills and mountains don’t exactly go anywhere during the Summer months; they do however, take on a life of their own once Winter comes. Whether it’s a Munro or a Mountain, standing atop these snow peaked mounds makes you feel as if you have just conquered Everest. The dramatic scenery combined with views that will take your breath away (quite literally if the wind has anything to say about it) and icy weather make you feel as if you have been transported to another world.
9. Pub? ...Pub!
After your long winter adventure what could be better than one of Britain’s many cosy country pubs? Whether it’s a full on fish supper, a pint of one of the country’s craft beers or just a welcoming mug of hot chocolate there is nothing better than relaxing by the warmth of the fire after a day of exploring. If you happen to come across a pub with live music, then the friendly locals will make sure that your daytime travels turn into an exciting night time adventure all of their own.
10. Off Season Means Cheaper Digs.
What could be better than relaxing in the pub after your wintry expedition? How about a cosy, comfortable bed? What could be better than a cosy, comfortable bed? How about a cosy, comfortable bed that you got for half the normal price because no one else is crazy enough to be wandering further than the safety of their own homes?! In all seriousness this is just common sense, higher demand equals higher prices and well unless you are headed to one of the country’s skiing hotspots you are almost guaranteed to find yourself cheaper accommodation without compromising on spectacular scenery.
If that hasn’t convinced you then I don’t know what will! For me a Winter Adventure in Britain is my favourite day (or week) out.