Wrap up warm, get your waterproofs on and embrace the season as you head outside for some fresh air and beautiful sights
Young or old, everyone benefits from a walk in the winter weather. Follow our guide to where to go, what to wear and what you’ll discover…
The temptation to stay inside when the days get colder and the thermometer drops is strong. However, the cooler temperatures make it an ideal time to go outside for a trek, no matter how far the distance.
You needn’t stray far from home or strap on a massive backpack for an epic hike, and you can plan in a trip to a playground or pub to suit you and your fellow walkers. The important thing is to get a bit of exercise and a taste of that fresh autumn and winter air that will do wonders for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Benefits of a winter walk
There’s just something about that smell of winter air and the sights of an early sunset through the colourful trees that’s hard to quantify in words. However, while that fresh air is great for the soul, any sort of walk that takes in a bit of nature has great health benefits as well.
Chief among them is keeping those winter blues away; the more exercise you do and longer you spend outside will help to combat seasonal affective disorder and general weariness that you may feel at this time of the year.
If you have little ones in tow you needn’t go far, but the important things is making sure you get them out. The Outdoor Dad has plenty of tips to help get kids outside for an hour a day to improve their moods and get them away from TVs and tablets; outdoor activities will boost not just their health but also their abilities to learn and to form relationships in school.
He’s also created a top list of ideas to get your kids outside this winter beyond heading off into nature, such as bike or scooter rides, stargazing, Gruffalo-hunting at numerous locations, and having a good old splash in puddles.
More inspiration for getting outdoors this winter
What you need for a walk
If you’re planning a walk in autumn or winter, check our guide to the best walking trails with advice on what to take with you.
The key things for winter walking are staying warm and dry. Even if the skies are clear you should always have a waterproof jacket with a hood in case the rain clouds descend.
Warm, comfortable clothes are a must for your upper body, legs and feet, as well as a hat and gloves. But be aware that you’ll soon get warm on a walk so it’s a good idea to have a few layers that you can take on and off to regulate your temperature.
If you’re not going far, and especially if you’re sticking to decent paths, you can wear whatever shoes or trainers you feel comfortable in. But if you’re planning on going a little further and off the beaten track into some paths that could be wet and muddy, a solid pair of walking shoes or boots is recommended. Wellies are also great but bear in mind that they can rub over longer distances and don’t always have the best grip when it gets muddy.
If you need to get yourself a waterproof, boots or other outdoor gear we have expert reviews to help you choose the best wet weather gear for you and your family.
Even though it might be cold you’ll still need water on your walk so take a few bottles, and a flask for your preferred hot drink to give you a jolt of warmth. A bit of food is always a good idea too, but make sure you bring any litter home with you.
Also make sure your phone is fully charged. Not only are there some great apps you can use to plan your route and help you navigate, but it’s very important in the unlikely event that you’ll run into trouble.
Where to go for a winter walk
Once you’re all packed up and ready to go, the only thing left to decide is where you’re going to get your dose of fresh air. If you live in a city the nearest park will provide you with an opportunity for a decent stroll and run-around, with even some nature to spot along the way.
However, if you want to head out a little bit further we have some great ideas for the best places for autumn walks in England, from forests to coasts.
BBC Countryfile Magazine has a similar list of 21 autumnal hikes through colourful woods around the UK that range from a 40 minutes to a few hours. You can also follow suggestions for circular walks that feature a pub en route for a bit of food and drink.