Experience winter – National Park style

  • Contributor information: CNP

4 December 2018

Winter is the season of hibernating. Nature takes stock, withdrawing her riches over the cold months to settle into a very quiet slumber. Snow can then fall and lie harmlessly on top. Yet, whilst nature sleeps visitors to National Parks in winter know of the wonder that she is missing.

Sunsets and Sunrises

Over the winter months you don’t have to wake too early to experience a National Park sunrise and what an experience that is. Without light pollution, a countryside sunrise gives you the full magic of a sunrise experience.  Plus, you’ll likely be treated to other rare sights, such as sitting of a shy red deer, cautious otter or perhaps a spectacular starling swarm display.  A mobile weather app is helpful for determining sunrise times.


Our National Parks are home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the UK. For most visitors it is the solitude of these landscapes that is so unique and precious, such as amidst the wild peaks in the northern mountainous district of the Peaks and Lakes.  

And these are all the more tranquil when blanketed in the muffling effect of white snow. The brilliant, bright white blanket of snow reflects the low wintry light creating truly unique views of the landscape that was only a few months ago a deep orange huge. A woodland walk, fell top ramble or valley wander really is the best place to see the wonderful changing British seasons and winter is a show-stopper!  

Rydal by John Hodgson

Rydal – Intakes above Scandale. Photo credit: John Hodgson

Crampons and Ice Picks

Winter in our National Parks is not all comfort and joy. For some, it is about the opposite. Embracing the extreme temperatures and challenges that winter weather can bring, for some, is invigorating and thrilling. Extreme winter walking requires specialist equipment, such as learning to use an ice axe and crampons. It also demands specialist knowledge, like winter navigating, avalanche awareness and bivouac building. Alternatively, novice’s in winter exploration can enjoy a winter summit experience where an experienced mountain leader will take you to enjoy one of the UK’s snowy rooftop views.  


Helvellyn by Dominic Donnimi

Helvellyn – Snow on Striding Edge. Photo credit: Dominic Donnini.

Nordic Walking

A walk on a crisp, frosty day is invigorating as hikers walk and natter at speed to keep the cold air out.

Over winter, some walkers enjoy short, brisk walks and getting back for a warming roast dinner.

For others, without picnic and paddling sojourns that can delay a summer’s walk, a winter ramble is a great time to cover some distance. Nordic Walking has become popular as it is about just that, using poles and a specialised walking style to increase the distance and exercise benefit when walking.

And this is where National Park’s really come into their own. Acres of uninterrupted countryside, fields, peaks, rivers, lakes and woodland to be explored on foot. The pedestrian is king of the National Park and undeterred by the lethargy of heat, biting insects and powered by the thinner, cool air winter it is there for the grabbing.


Nowy Vieew from Blawith. Photo credit: Nick Thorne

Nowy view from Blawith. Photo credit: Nick Thorne.

Hot Toddy and Cracking Fire  

Retuning inside from a frosty, winter walk makes the warm hospitality of a local village pub or riverside cafe even more convivial.

In fact, over the winter months’ pubs become attractions themselves, with visitors making a beeline for the good seats by the open fire with a warm, spicy mulled wine in hand. Festive menus are as much anticipated as their spring counterparts, as chef’s work hard with a winter larder.

Have yourself a merry christmas in the National Parks!

Dark Sky Discovery

As the glow of our urban towns and cities grows, the preservation of light-free skies that are so unique to National Park’s becomes ever-more important.

One of the Earth’s top spectacles is the night sky.

Sadly, the experience of our night sky for around 85% of British population is affected by street lighting pollution that reduces phenomenal night displays.

Finding a remote, rural location star gazers are treated to the most spectacular display of the Milky Way, Orion, meteor showers and sometimes even the northern lights. All of which can be viewed with the naked eye, thanks to the wonderfully dark wintry sky of rural National Parks.

Christmas Lights

Another benefit of rural winter in a National Park is the cheer that outdoor Christmas lights bring to deep, dark skies. Twinkling fairy lights swathed around great spruce Christmas trees and strings of warmly lit festoons look all the more Dickensian in 17th century farming villages, where little has changed over the centuries.

Traditions and customs are an important part of life across National Park towns and villages. And Christmas markets, Christmas light switch-ons, winter wonderlands and festive grotto’s are not to be missed when experiencing a National Park style winter break. 

Winter Open Water Swimming

A recent study by open water swimwear brand SelieSwim Co, revealed that Britons spend just six hours indoors over winter months. Jeremy Laming, co-founder of Selkie Swim Co said: “It really is important to not let the shorter days have an effect on your daily exercise and activities; staying indoors could make things like winter depression worse.”

“Going for walks on the weekends with friends and family is always beneficial, even if it’s around your local city centre, to your local park or down the road to the shops. Even an outdoor swim in the cold water can help boost your immune system and mental health – although we know that’s not for everyone this time of year,” said Laming.

Get outside this winter in the National Parks

Boost your immune system this winter and get outdoors enjoying all that is on offer in a National Park holiday

Winter is the perfect time to spend that little bit extra on a luxury holiday cottage, where you can enjoy extras like outdoor hot tubs, swimming pool and sauna access, walking distance to a local pub and new refurbishments fitted with top quality fixtures and fittings and stat-of-the-art home technology.  Whatever your winter holiday style, memories made in the Lake District are guaranteed to warm and delight.

Click here to view quality Lake District cottages from Lakelovers.

Lakelovers is the latest member of Campaign for National Park’s corporate network, supporting our goal to protect and defend National Parks.