Whilst many people head off for some winter sunshine, why don’t you buck the trend and discover the joys and delights of the UK in winter? You’re guaranteed not to get too hot (unless you go too close to one of those pub fires) or have to expose more flesh than is absolutely necessary. As long as you have the right clothes and a positive attitude you are guaranteed to have a great time. As one of Britain’s most famous walkers, Alfred Wainwright said, “There’s not such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.”
Britain is made for ‘changeable’ weather and some of our most traditional attractions come in the form of an oak-beamed inn or a quaint cottage art gallery. Or maybe you feel really brave and will just wrap up warm and go for a bracing walk across a Yorkshire moor or a Northumberland beach.
Here are my top 7 reasons to visit the UK in winter
1. Our pubs and hotels are at their best in winter. Imagine arriving in a Cornish village and opening the door of a traditional old country inn, all oak beams and comfy nooks. A blast of warmth hits you and the smell of wood smoke mingles with locally-brewed real ale. You find a chair next to the blazing fire and very soon you’re tucking into a plate of freshly-cooked local food. Winter heaven.
2. You’ll save time because you won’t have to queue to get into your stately home or theme park of choice. Restaurants, pubs and cafes will find you a table immediately as there are fewer visitors in the UK in winter. Whether you’re in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool or London, attractions in the big cities will be less crowded and you may have some of the smaller places completely to yourself.
3. You’ll also save money (see #2) because in winter hotels, B&Bs, holiday homes, caravans and other accommodation is MUCH cheaper than in the summer months. If you see a place you fancy staying in, contact them directly either by phone or email and see what deals they can offer. Everyone’s becoming an ace bargainer these days so release your inner carpet-seller and get haggling.
4. You’ll literally see more of the UK in winter. Many of our trees are deciduous and lose their leaves, revealing more of our fantastic landscape than in leafy spring and summer. The skies are often clearer and the countryside seems to come into sharper focus in the winter months. On a grey or wet day, pop on a pair of wellies (wellington boots in case you’re not sure), don your packamac, get a fancy brolly and set off to splash in puddles and sing in the rain.
5. Outdoor light is very different from other seasons of the year. You can get incredibly clear skies which give an amazing clarity to those mountains in the Lake District in winter. A misty fog swirls evocatively across a Scottish river. The low-lying sun filters through bleached-out clouds above a deserted moor. Perfect for photography and artists of all kinds.
6. Many places such as the National Trust properties, are now open during the winter months and even if the houses or attractions are closed their their gardens are open. You will be able to spend more time looking at that Pre-Rafaelite painting or quirky installation in an art gallery. You won’t be herded through historic castles past priceless artefacts – you will be able to gaze and absorb every detail.
7. People have more time to chat, to help and show you around. Travel and tourism businesses that are open in the winter rely on visitors like you and really appreciate that you have taken the time to visit their establishment. Brits are far less reserved than our stereotype would imply!
Make sure you check websites for opening times as they may vary quite a lot – and go make the most of the UK in winter.
I do hope this inspires a few more visitors to the UK ‘off-season’ but also maybe reminds more ‘natives’ that our gorgeous country has a heck of lot to offer in winter!
Don’t forget whisky – that’s a good reason to visit the UK (especially Scotland) any time of the year!
Trust a Scot to focus on that! And there are no midges in Scotland in winter 😉