Walking in winter won’t always have you wishing you were in California; some of our UK countryside provides an entirely different take on the colder months. Frozen waterfalls and snow-capped mountains are among some of the highlights of traversing the British outdoors during winter. Explore some of the best winter walks on offer.

Pistyll Rhaeadr, Wales

The home of Wales’ highest waterfall becomes even more of a magnificent sight when in sub-zero temperatures. It flows over intricate and giant icicles that have formed over its drop, guiding the water down to the pool below. With harder and easier climbs to choose from, this area has something for beginners and higher-level hikers alike, with both getting to experience the dramatic waterfall and its fantasy-like surroundings. Old quarry heaps and hillsides full of grazing lamb surround this must-see winter spectacle. It's certainly one of the best winter walks for days when it's particularly cold.

Darwen Tower, West Pennine Moors

This short hike offers a woodland stroll and snow-settled grassland, two reservoirs and the Darwen (or Jubilee) Tower from which there are widespread views of the area including the West Pennines. The tower was constructed to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and is an interesting piece of architecture. This hike is not well pathed throughout and especially after heavy snow will require good navigation, ensure you have your map packed and route planned in case your GPS is unavailable (a likely situation).

It's a fantastic winter walk for snowy and clear days alike as the views will be stunning.

Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve Circuit, Fife

Prepare for grey seals, pink-footed geese, eider ducks, bar-tailed godwits and oystercatchers at the beaches of Tentsmuir Point. If wildlife enthusiasts among you think that sounds great, keep an eye out on route for red squirrels, chaffinches, coal tits and wildfowl around Morton Lochs.

The nature reserve circuit is a seven-and-a-half-mile hike that is a mostly pathed route through heavily wooded areas, home to the magnificent white-tailed sea eagles. You can park up at Lundin Bridge, Tayport, or Morton Lochs. This is one is an animal lovers dream. It's one of the best winter walks in the UK if you're looking to spot wildlife active in this season.

Rosebury Topping, North Yorkshire

This incline trek to Clifton moor also gives you the option of scaling Rosebury Topping itself, albeit a slighter longer route. This area really stands out in the winter months, particularly if we are treated to its views under snowfall, with expansive grassland gradually elevating until the steeper ascent to the peak.

The surrounding woodland is a wonderland with the arrival of autumn tones and crispy leaves underfoot. You may even spot a tawny owl if you are lucky. The route’s finale will bring you to Captain Cook’s momument, the famous British exporer who discovered New Zealand and Australia. Hikers ahoy!

Formby Red Squirrel Walk, Merseyside

Another ramble which may catch you spotting rare wildlife, the route at Formby offers a relaxed walk through beautiful coastal pinewoods and a well pathed route. This isn’t a long one, but what it lacks in length it certainly makes up for in woodland magic. Plenty of communal picnic areas break up the stroll with a sit down and nibbles. Make sure you bring your desired cuisine because you are going to have trouble ordering Uber Eats here. 

It makes for one of the best winter walks for families as the path itself is easy on little legs!

While the cold may have you wanting to snuggle up with a blanket and a hot chocolate, the more adventurous might want to take your hiking to the next level of challenge with these UK winter walks. The rewards are many, with beautiful crisp colour and even a spot of snowfall, not to mention that feeling when you finally get back in the warm (or even better in front of a fire). You can even enjoy a hot chocolate midway or when you reach the summit, just make sure its in a thermos or it’ll have gotten cold! Check out our best summer hikes if you want more great UK walking ideas.