We’ve all been there. The cold weather creeps in, the days get shorter and you’re just one torrential downpour away from taking your rightful place on the couch and hibernating for the winter!
But it doesn’t have to be this way! In fact, pulling on your walking boots and braving the elements can be the best way to blow away the winter blues and enjoy all that nature has to offer – especially when you can warm up with a pint (or three!) along the way.
So, to give you a head start, check out our top five suggestions for getting out and about this season
1) The Tolkien Trail - Ribble Valley, Lancashire
If the thought of Frodo, Gandalf and Mordor get you going, then the Tolkien Trail is definitely for you! Set in the beautiful Ribble Valley village of Hurst Green, this stunning trip takes walkers past the sights and sounds that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s classics ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’. And after the 5½-mile circular trek, you’ll receive a warm welcome from the folks at the Shireburn Arms. Perfect for those wanting to taste a tipple of Middle Earth!
2) Halkyn Mountain - Flintshire, North East Wales
For those of you who enjoy a challenge, try the Halkyn Mountain in North Wales; home to some of the region’s most historic early quarries and industrial lead mines. But if that’s not your thing, pay a visit to the award-winning Blue Bell Inn, offering spectacular 70 mile views over the Dee and Mersey rivers with a host of traditional homemade meals.
3) Woodchester Park - Woodchester, Gloucestershire
Protected by the National Trust, the secluded Woodchester Park features a ‘lost landscape’ with a chain of five lakes and the spooky Woodchester Mansion; a hidden masterpiece mysteriously abandoned mid-construction in 1873. For some Dutch courage before your visit, try the Rose and Crown Inn; a local award-winning pub that’s over 400 years old.
4) St Ives to Land’s End – Treen, Cornwall
If you need to blow away the cobwebs this winter, get yourself down to the South West coast. A trip all the way from St Ives to Land’s End will take up most of your day but offers magnificent views of the Atlantic. And for a much-needed break, drop into The Gurnard’s Head; a popular pub overlooking an iron-age fort on the cliff face.
5) Carrickfergus to Larne - County Antrim, Northern Ireland
One of our personal favourites; no winter walk would be complete without a creamy pint of the black stuff and some R&R in a traditional Irish B&B! Introducing Billy Andy’s, a rural farmhouse that’s home to one of the oldest pubs in Ireland. Pay a visit whilst taking in the sights and sounds of the coast from Carrickfergus to Larne, including the infamous Giant’s Causeway and the beautiful Glens of Antrim.