New Year walking - How to enjoy winter walks with the right kit


Feb 06, 2023

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New Year walking - How to enjoy winter walks with the right kit

If you’re wondering how to beat the January and winter blues at the start of the year, walking is a simple, free and super rewarding option that many of us don’t take full advantage of. The UK is filled with thousands of short, medium and longer walks that are packed with stunning natural views, historical sights and experiences, plus plenty of country and canal-side pubs to sit down and enjoy along the way. While a bit chillier and dreary, a winter walk can offer all the joys of a spring or summer outdoor stroll. We’re talking fresh air, exercise and quality time alone or with friends and family.

So for a little inspiration, here we’ll go over how to take full advantage of winter walking including what to consider for your kit to maximise every moment outside.

Building your kit - What to wear for winter walking 

Winter walking can be a fantastic way to make these typically long, darker and colder months all the more enjoyable. But unlike a spring, summer or even autumn walk, you’ll need a bit of extra kit this time of year to really enjoy yourself and stay safe in colder conditions.

The winter in the UK is prone to some wind and rain, and especially between November and mid-February, the darkness can come on far earlier and faster, so you may even get caught out at dusk or dark. Below we’ve compiled a great little list of all you’ll need to stay warm, dry and safe while enjoying any type of winter walk

A warm, water-resistant jacket and a quality base layer

As you might have guessed, warm, waterproof clothing that is built for long periods outside is essential if you are to enjoy a winter walk. A good rule of thumb when it comes to outdoor winter clothing is to layer up appropriately.

If you anticipate that you’ll be working up a bit of a sweat, opt for a quick-wicking, fast drying and super breathable base layer that you can comfortably wear on its own if you get too warm. Over the top of your base layer - and depending on how cold it is - you may want a fleece layer to wear under your waterproof jacket (particularly if you choose a lighter coat that isn’t super warm). Alternatively, you can go for a 3-in-1 jacket that combines a fleece inner layer with a super waterproof outer layer - this way, you can easily remove the fleece and stow it away when it’s no longer needed.

When choosing a winter coat for outdoor walking, be sure to opt for something lightweight, breathable and water and wind resistant. Coats that are designed and built to withstand showers, heavy rain, and wind will have a special waterproof coating to repel water, along with features like taped seams to prevent moisture from leaking in and making you uncomfortable. While you may be tempted to wear a heavy parka, unless it’s below freezing temperatures, you’re best layering up with something warm and efficient, but light enough to not tire you out and not too bulky. Having the ability to pop your coat in your hiking bag or rucksack is ideal for walking.

Waterproof trousers and footwear

Along with keeping your core warm, you’ll want a pair of lightweight waterproof trousers and comfortable waterproof walking boots or shoes to keep your lower half and feet dry. Waterproof trousers can be a great option to pack in your rucksack before you set off, just in case some heavy rain hits. These can typically be worn over your normal trousers, making them a versatile and convenient option when you want to wear casual clothing on your walk.

Walking boots or walking shoes will also be a lifesaver when it comes to walking in the UK in winter. After lots of rain, the walking trails and paths tend to be a little wet, slippery and muddy, and a pair of good walking boots can help with your traction and protection against slips, falls and puddles.

Backpack and accessories

If the weather is really cold and you want to keep warm for a longer walk, be sure to also bring a warm beanie or bobble hat, a pair of durable gloves, as well as a hiking backpack for your essentials like water, snacks, and even a first aid kit if you plan on going out for a while.

When choosing a backpack, it’s important you also consider the weather. The best light hiking backpack will have features like waterproofing, plenty of easy-access pockets, support at the shoulders and waist, and adjustable features to offer a good fit. The size and type of your backpack will ultimately depend on the type of walking you’d want to do - for example, for camping and long-form hikes you’d want something a bit more robust and durable. But for day walks in the UK, a lightweight, weather resistant bag should do the trick.

Are there walking holidays in January and February?

Believe it or not, there are walking holidays in January and February and throughout winter across the UK and Europe - it just depends on the type of walking you want to do. For something local or within the UK, there are many areas that offer fantastic walks all year round and promise beautiful accommodation, lovely local pubs and restaurants, and a whole host of tours and sights to explore, even in cold weather. Some of the places you’ll find a great walking holiday that you can plan out in winter and beyond include:

  • The Peak District
  • The Lake District
  • Scottish Highlands
  • Isle of Wight
  • Cornwall and Devon

Depending on where you look online, you can find a great selection of both guided and self-guided walking holidays that can last between one day to several days where walking is the main attraction. You’ll typically find this in areas that are more popular with tourists in summer, but these will likely be less busy in January and other winter months.

Beat the winter blues with a UK winter walking adventure

If you love walking in spring and summer, chances are you’ll also love what a UK winter walking adventure has to offer. With the right kit, some planning, and the willingness to take on a bit of adverse weather here and there, you’re bound to have a great time. 

If you’re not quite ready for a full walking holiday or even a long hike, get yourself accustomed to winter walking by exploring whatever local trails you may have nearby. This is also a great way to test your gear and break in things like walking boots ahead of a longer journey. Before you know it, you’ll be hiking Snowdon or exploring the Peaks no matter the weather.
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