As the winter months draw in, the temptation to stay snug indoors grows. However,
for the adventurous at heart, the colder season offers a unique charm for outdoor
activities, particularly hiking and cycling and the UK becomes a wonderland for those willing to embrace the chill. Rob Haggan explores how to safely and enjoyably engage in hiking and cycling
during winter, ensuring that the dropping temperatures don’t freeze your spirit of
Tips for preparing for winter adventures
Gear up appropriately
Winter cycling and hiking demand specific gear to ensure safety. Cycling? Add winter tyres to your bike. Lighting is another non-negotiable – add a head torch if you’re hiking or good lights to your bike. Clothing is equally vital – layering is the key to maintaining a comfortable body
temperature in subzero conditions. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating mid-layer, and finish with a windproof and waterproof outer layer. Don’t forget gloves, thermal
socks, and a hat.
Play the mental game
Dark evenings and gloomy weather can create a mental barrier to getting outside that’s often
harder to overcome than the physical challenges of cold-weather outdoor activities.
The comfort of a warm home and the allure of cosy evenings can easily overshadow
the thought of venturing out into the cold, and this internal tug-of-war is not just about
physical readiness but also about psychological resilience.
Yet, paradoxically, winter is when the benefits of outdoor activities like hiking and
cycling can be most profound. The lack of sunlight and reduced outdoor time can lead
to a dip in our mood and energy levels, and engaging in outdoor exercise becomes not just a physical endeavour but a crucial tool for mental wellbeing, helping to combat the
winter blues and providing a much-needed dose of natural light and fresh air.
Staying motivated all through winter
● Set achievable goals: Whether it’s covering a certain distance or exploring
new trails, having clear, attainable goals to hit before spring can be a great motivator.
● Join a community: Hiking and cycling groups that organise
winter outings can be a great way to make sure you leave the house.
● Revel in the rewards: Winter landscapes are beautiful. The quiet of a snow-
covered forest or the crisp air along a cycling trail can be incredibly
Winter is the perfect season for microadventures – short, simple, and local excursions that offer a fresh perspective on familiar surroundings. With fewer people venturing out, local trails are quieter, and the landscapes, adorned in frost or snow, present a different kind of beauty.
Sloe Berry Cycling Expedition
A leisurely bike ride through the countryside in search of sloe berries can be a
delightful winter activity. This quest not only gets you moving but also involves you in
the seasonal rhythm of foraging. After gathering your sloe berries, return home to
craft your own sloe gin, a perfect way to warm up and celebrate your day’s efforts.
Canal Towpath Walk to a Cosy Café
Walking along a peaceful canal towpath, wrapped in the tranquillity of a winter’s day,
is a serene experience. The journey can be even more rewarding when it leads to your
favourite café for a hot chocolate.
Wilderness Coffee Brewing
Eschewing the commercialism of festive takeaway cups, why not pack a camping
stove and find a tranquil spot in the wilderness to brew your own coffee? This
microadventure combines the joy of being outdoors with the ritual of making a warm,
comforting beverage, all while surrounded by the serene beauty of a winter
Winter’s clear nights are perfect for stargazing. Choose a night with a clear forecast
and head to a remote area away from city lights, such as a national park or a
designated Dark Sky area. This could be in the rolling hills of the South Downs or the
remote landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. Once you’re settled in your stargazing
spot, let your eyes adjust to the darkness and enjoy the spectacular night sky.
Rob Haggan is the founder of Weekend Adventurers. Passionate about the great
outdoors, he explores the UK’s wild places and shares guides and reviews on hiking,
mountain biking, and more.