Some paths are just made for walking when the crisp, white frosts set in. We pick our top five places to explore on foot in wintertime—and they all come with the reward of a welcoming pub at the end.
Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk
Brancaster Staithe is a small fishing port in the middle of the saltwater mashes on the beautiful north Norfolk coast. There is a circular route of three-and-a-half miles that encompasses a stretch of the coastal path, The Downs woods and Barrow Common. This walk is particularly appealing in winter when the views across the marshes are not obscured by leaves on the trees.
The route takes you past the fishing quay, which was rebuilt in 2008, and the historic Roman fort of Branodunum. At dawn and dusk you can watch the pink-footed geese either fly inland to feed or return to roost on the sea.
Warm your cockles at The White Horse (www.whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk)
Balnakeil Bay, Durness, Sutherland
Turn your collar up to the winds and explore the wild, wide, white beach at Balnakeil Bay, which is easily accessed from Durness. The snow-topped headland that is often visible to the north provides a wonderful contrast with the vast expanse of tall dunes, covered in marram grass.
Brace yourself for a walk across the headland to the only pub nearby, the interestingly named Sango Sands Oasis. The menu is simple, but the view is anything but (www.sangosands.com)
Winspit, Worth Matravers, Dorset
Park up in the village of Worth Matravers and set off on the one-and-a-half-mile walk to the former coastal quarry at Winspit. A signed path runs down a steep, green valley to the spectacular, jagged coast. Much of this area has been quarried for centuries for the distinctive Purbeck stone, however Windspit itself is now deserted: all that is left are a few derelict houses and some unstable-looking quarry caves.
Swing by the Square And Compass in Worth Matravers to sample their award-winning beers and ciders, and warm up with a traditional pasty (www.squareandcompasspub.co.uk)
St James’s Park, London
Even entrenched urbanites appreciate the benefit of a stroll through London’s green parks. For a crisp, winter walk that takes in open spaces and historic landmarks, start in St James’ Park, head up The Mall, along Victoria Embankment and return via Buckingham Palace.
When you are back in the park, treat yourself to a lazy coffee and a homemade cake at Inn The Park, nestled among the plants and ponds (http://www.peytonandbyrne.co.uk/inn-the-park)
Snowdon is arguably at its best during winter, when the tourists are few and far between and white frost dusts the ridges of the Snowdon Horseshoe. This is the perfect time to tackle the classic Pen-y-Pass summit circuit—a moderate difficulty walk.
Start at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, where Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay stayed briefly while training for their successful ascent of Everest in 1953.
The walk via the Pyg and Miners tracks is around an eight-mile round-trip from Pen-y-Gwryd and, on your return, you have a good pint of ale and a hearty roast to look forward to.
Start and finish at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel with a restorative quiche or pie (www.pyg.co.uk)