Best Winter Outdoor Activities

Why spend time outdoors in winter and the benefits of winter activities

When the temperature drops and snow covers the ground, it may be tempting to hibernate indoors until spring arrives. However, there are numerous benefits to spending time outdoors in winter and engaging in winter activities.

Firstly, winter activities provide an opportunity for exercise and physical development. Whether it’s walking through the snow up a hill, shovelling snow, sledging, building a survival shelter, winter camping or building a snowman, these activities challenge our bodies and help us stay active during the colder months. Additionally, outdoor play in winter allows children to learn and develop in unique ways, enhancing their cognitive and motor skills.

Furthermore, spending time outdoors in winter helps us escape indoor germs (Colds, flu, and snivels are the worst). With viruses and bacteria being more prevalent during this season, fresh air and outdoor environments can minimize the risk of infections.

The cold can also help the body heal, calm the mind, and burn fat. For more information on this check out our article on the Wim Hof Method.

Lastly, winter activities can also have a positive impact on our mental health. Being surrounded by nature and engaging in outdoor play has been proven to reduce stress levels and prevent the development of mental health issues.

So, embrace the winter season and take advantage of the opportunities it brings for outdoor activities. Whether it’s skiing, ice skating, or simply taking a winter hike, getting outside in the cold can be invigorating and beneficial for both your body and your mind.

Our List of The Best Winter Activities

Here you will find something for everyone, activities for kids and adults alike, winter is a great time of the year, you just have to embrace it.

1. Ice Skating

Ice skating is a timeless winter activity that offers fun for the whole family. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a beginner, gliding across the ice is a wonderful way to embrace the festive season and get some exercise. There are plenty of permanent ice rinks across the UK where you can indulge in this joyful activity.

If you’re new to ice skating, don’t worry! Many ice rinks offer lessons for beginners, where qualified instructors can teach you the basics and help you build confidence on the ice. Lace up your skates, hold onto the sides if you need to, and enjoy the thrill of gliding gracefully on the ice.

Frozen lochs, lakes, and rivers are no joke, and here in the UK it rarely gets cold enough for the ice to be thick enough to safely skate on,  read our articles on surviving a plunge through the ice into the ice cold water, it could save your life. However, we recommend staying off frozen water outside, full stop.

Whether on a natural frozen pond, an outdoor ice rink or an indoor ice rink, ice skating is a classic winter activity.

2. Sledging

Sledging, also known as tobogganing, is another exhilarating winter outdoor activity. Grab a sledge and find a snowy slope to slide down. It’s a simple yet exhilarating experience that will bring out the childlike joy in everyone.

When going sledging, make sure to choose slopes that are safe and suitable for sledging. Avoid slopes that are too steep or have hazards such as trees,  rocks, roads etc. It’s also important to dress warmly and wear appropriate winter gear, and for children we recommend wearing a helmet (bike helmet, snowboarding helmet etc), to ensure your safety.

Whether you prefer the elegance of ice skating or the thrill of sledging, these winter outdoor activities are sure to bring a smile to your face and create lasting memories. So, bundle up, gather your loved ones, and head outdoors to embrace the wonders of winter. Remember to always stay warm, stay safe, and have fun!

3. Winter Hiking

Winter hiking is an exhilarating outdoor activity that allows you to explore the beauty of nature in a different season. With the right preparation, you can enjoy breathtaking winter landscapes and experience a sense of peace and tranquillity as you navigate through frozen landscapes and snowy trails. It’s important to choose suitable trails for winter hiking and to your fitness level and experience and to be well-equipped with warm clothing, sturdy footwear, and essential safety gear such as a map, compass, and headlamp.

There are many stunning winter hiking walks to choose from, ranging from easy to more challenging. Some popular options include national parks, nature reserves, coastal paths and mountain ranges. Before embarking on a winter hike, it’s crucial to check the weather conditions, trail conditions, and if your mountaineering potential avalanche risk. It’s also advisable to inform someone about your hiking plans and to hike with a buddy for added safety.

4. Nature Walking

If you prefer a more relaxed outdoor experience, nature walking in winter is a fantastic option. It allows you to immerse yourself in the natural surroundings, observe winter wildlife, and appreciate the serenity of the season. Whether it’s a local park, a botanical garden, a coastal walk or a nature trail, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and connect with nature during the winter months. Many trails are open year-round, providing a different perspective with icy and snow-covered landscapes.

Winter landscapes are a sight to behold, with snow-covered trees, frozen lakes and lochs, and glistening icicles. During your nature walks, keep an eye out for winter wildlife such as birds, deer, and squirrels. Take the time to observe their behaviour and appreciate their resilience in adapting to the cold weather. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture these magical moments and always leave no trace, respect the environment.

By venturing out on winter hikes and nature walks, you can enjoy the wonders of the winter season and create unforgettable memories in the great outdoors. Just remember to dress appropriately, stay hydrated, and keep safety as your top priority. Embrace the beauty of winter and let nature inspire and rejuvenate you.

5. Wild swimming

Wild swimming in winter can be an invigorating and refreshing outdoor activity. It may seem daunting at first, but with the right preparation and precautions, it can be a truly exhilarating experience. When embarking on a cold-water swim, it’s important to start slowly and gradually build up your tolerance to the low temperatures. Remember to pack plenty of warm clothing to change into afterwards and choose safe and popular locations for your swim.

To make the most of your winter wild swimming experience, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Start slowly: Begin with shorter swims in colder water and gradually increase the duration and temperatures. Practice in your shower, with cold water!

Wear a wetsuit or appropriate swimwear: This will help to insulate your body and keep you warm in the water.

Stay safe: Always swim with a buddy and be aware of the currents and conditions before entering the water.

Popular locations for winter wild swimming include lakes, rivers, and designated outdoor swimming areas. Research the area beforehand and check for local guidelines and safety recommendations.

For more information on Wild Swimming check out these key articles. And for all our wild swimming articles here.

6. Winter Picnics

Winter picnics are a delightful way to enjoy the outdoors while staying warm and cosy. Here are some ideas for creating a memorable winter picnic experience:

Hot food ideas: Pack thermoses filled with hearty soups, stews, or chilli to keep you warm from the inside. You can also bring along warm drinks like hot chocolate or spiced apple cider.

Cosy blankets and cushions: Create a comfortable seating area with soft blankets and cushions to stay warm and snuggle up during your picnic.

Winter-themed recipes: Get creative with your picnic food by making seasonal dishes like roasted root vegetable salads, warm sandwiches, or homemade winter pies.

Choose a picturesque outdoor location such as a woodland area, a scenic park, or even your backyard, and set up your picnic with festive décor and ambience. Some local parks have fire pits or BBQ stations, use these to get a small contained fire happening. 

7. Campfire Cooking

Campfire cooking is one of the best winter activities for the staff here at Bestoutdoors.co.uk, we love it. Winter is arguably the best time to have a campfire because you can feel the full benefit of the warmth and light from the fire. Campfire cooking adds an extra element of cosiness and deliciousness to your outdoor experience. Whether it’s roasting marshmallows on a stick or cooking hearty meals like chilli or stew in a Dutch oven, the possibilities are endless. Embrace the winter season by gathering around the campfire with friends and family, enjoying good food and creating lasting memories.

To make the most of your campfire cooking experience, read our article on campfire cooking for some recipes.  There are some delicious recipes perfect for making during the colder months. From campfire pizza, quesadillas, cowboy chilli and more, these recipes are simple, tasty, and sure to keep you warm and satisfied. However, the options are yours, you can cook up just about anything on an open fire. Don’t forget to pack essential equipment such as a cast iron skillet, a grill grate, long-handled tongs, and heat-resistant gloves to ensure a successful and safe cooking experience.

Read our Articles on

8. Winter camping

Winter camping can be a thrilling outdoor adventure, but it’s important to have the right gear and know how to stay warm. Invest in a high-quality, cold-weather tent that is designed to withstand low temperatures and strong winds. Layer your clothing and wear insulated and waterproof gear to protect yourself from the cold. Don’t forget to bring extra blankets, sleeping bags, and hand warmers to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep. Stay hydrated and fuel your body with warm drinks and nourishing snacks to keep your energy levels up.

By embracing campfire cooking and winter camping, you can make the most of the winter season and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. Just remember to prioritize safety, bring the necessary equipment, and bundle up.

For the adventurous, try camping in the winter. Make sure to use proper gear designed for cold temperatures.

Check out our winter camping gear guide. (Comming Soon)

9. Winter Star Gazing

Observing the stars during the winter months can be an enchanting experience, but it is necessary to make some specific arrangements to guarantee a pleasant and enjoyable time beneath the stars at night. With the decreasing temperatures and lengthening nights, it is crucial to be prepared for the cold and maximize your stargazing opportunities.  First and foremost, it is important to dress warmly. Winter nights can be extremely cold, especially when you are standing still and observing the stars. Be sure to wear multiple layers, including thermal leggings and a thick jacket, to keep yourself warm. Additionally, don’t forget to wear a hat, gloves, and thick socks to prevent heat loss from your extremities. Read our guide on wearing layers for the cold.

Another consideration for winter stargazing is finding a suitable location. Choose a spot that is shielded from the wind and has a clear view of the sky. You may also want to bring a comfortable chair or blanket to sit or lie on while you observe the stars. If possible, try to find a place with minimal light pollution to maximize your stargazing experience.

In Scotland: Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, North Ronaldsay, and Tomintoul and Glenlivet Dark Sky Park.

In England:  Exmoor, Brecon Beacons, Moore’s Reserve in the South Downs, Snowdonia, North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales have been awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status. Northumberland, with England’s most pristine dark skies, is an International Dark Sky Park (Gold Tier)

In Wales: Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire Coast, Brecon Beacons

Since winter nights are longer, it is essential to plan your stargazing outing accordingly. Check the weather forecast to ensure clear skies and choose a night with a new moon or a thin crescent moon to minimize light interference. Keep in mind that stargazing in the winter can be more rewarding due to the crisp, clear air and the visibility of certain constellations and planets that are more prominent during this time of year. Lastly, don’t forget to bring hot beverages and snacks to keep yourself warm and energized throughout the night. Consider bringing a thermos of hot cocoa, tea, or coffee, as well as some hearty snacks like trail mix or sandwiches.

By preparing for the cold, choosing a suitable location, planning your outing, and bringing warm beverages and snacks, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable winter stargazing experience. So bundle up, find a cosy spot, and get ready to be dazzled by the beauty of the night sky during the winter months. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, winter is not a season to be cooped up indoors. There are plenty of exciting outdoor activities that can be enjoyed during the colder months. From campfire cooking to winter camping, these activities provide opportunities for fun, adventure, and quality time with friends and family.

When engaging in campfire cooking, remember to bring essential equipment such as a cast iron skillet and heat-resistant gloves. Try out delicious recipes like campfire nachos and foil-packet meals to warm your belly and satisfy your taste buds.

For those looking for a more adventurous experience, winter camping is the perfect choice. Make sure to invest in a cold-weather tent and dress in layers to stay warm. Don’t forget to pack extra blankets, sleeping bags, and hand warmers to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.

Whether you choose to try out campfire cooking or embark on a winter camping trip, always prioritize safety. Be prepared for the cold weather, bring the necessary equipment, and listen to your body to avoid any unwanted mishaps.

So, don’t let the winter blues keep you indoors. Get outside, embrace the winter season, and make the most of these thrilling outdoor activities

Best Of The Rest Winter Activities.

Winter offers a variety of outdoor activities that can be both enjoyable and invigorating. Here are some popular winter activities:

Skiing and Snowboarding:

Perfect for all levels, experience the mountains, Scotland has numerous locations. 

Downhill Skiing:

Find a ski resort with slopes suitable for your skill level.
Cross-Country Skiing: Enjoy the serene winter landscapes on groomed trails.

Snowshoeing:

Explore snowy terrain by strapping on snowshoes, allowing you to walk on top of deep snow.

Ice Fishing:

If you enjoy fishing, try ice fishing on a frozen lake. Ensure the ice is thick enough for safety.

Winter Photography:

Capture the beauty of winter landscapes, snow-covered trees, and frozen lakes.

Dog Sledding:

Experience the excitement of being pulled through the snow by a team of sledgedogs.

Winter Wildlife Watching:

 Bundle up and go for a walk or hike to observe winter wildlife, such as birds and deer.

Winter Festivals:

Attend local winter festivals that may include activities like ice sculpting, parades, and winter sports competitions.

Hot Springs or Sauna Experience:

Combine outdoor activities with relaxation by visiting hot springs or using a sauna after a day in the snow.

Build a Snowman or Fort:

Embrace your inner child and have fun building snowmen or creating a snow fort.

Winter Geocaching:

 Use GPS coordinates to find hidden caches in winter landscapes, adding an element of adventure.

Snowmobiling:

Explore snowy trails and open fields on a snowmobile for an adrenaline-filled adventure.

Remember to dress appropriately for the weather, stay hydrated, and be aware of safety considerations for each activity. Always check local conditions and be prepared for changing weather when engaging in outdoor winter activities.

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