Icy towns and villages
Explore Britain’s chilliest landscapes from the comfort of a cosy base. Paul Richardson takes a look at seven of the best
Top seven, nationwide
1 SHAFTESBURY, DORSET
At 215 metres above sea level, this is one of the highest towns in England. Snow on the steep cobbles of Gold Hill increases the dramatic effect of the street, still remembered for 1973’s romantic Hovis advert. Some 10 miles north, explore Stourhead’s winter gardens.
2 MATLOCK BATH, DERBYSHIRE
Things begin to feel distinctly alpine when the snow comes to Matlock Bath on the southern edge of the Peak District. Winter walking routes lead up the nearby hills: High Tor, Masson Hill and the Heights of Abraham. The High Tor Hotel offers beds and a restaurant (Tues–Sat).
3 BLAENAU FFESTINIOG, GWYNEDD
In winter, the rugged mountains surrounding this Snowdonia town become buried in snow. Walk around nearby Tanygrisiau Reservoir beside dramatic hilly terrain. Accommodation and dining are available at The Oakley Arms Hotel.
4 IRONBRIDGE, SHROPSHIRE
The Iron Bridge, spanning the River Severn just south of Telford, appears frozen in time when covered in snow and ice. The town is a tribute to our industrial heritage. Visit the Ironbridge Gorge Museums for a lesson in local history, and a chance to escape from the cold.
5 SETTLE, YORKSHIRE
From this small town in the south-west corner of the Yorkshire Dales follow the icy waters of the River Ribble northwards for about two miles to the glorious waterfall of Stainforth Force. Ye Olde Naked Man Café is a firm favourite for a daytime snack.
6 STIRLING, STIRLINGSHIRE
Picture-postcard Stirling, built on the banks of the River Forth in central Scotland, is particularly magical in winter. The castle watches over the city, while the snow-covered summits of Stuc a’Chroin and Ben Vorlich dominate the landscape beyond. There are plenty of places to stay, including Willy Wallace Hostel and The Stirling Highland Hotel.
7 LOCHINVER, HIGHLAND
The rugged setting of this picturesque west-coast village 30 miles north of Ullapool contributes to its icy conditions. The mountain peak of Suilven provides the perfect snowy backdrop to the village. Hike up it, or simply marvel at it, then head to the harbourside, where Peet’s Restaurant serves locally produced food with bonus views across the loch.
Paul Richardson is a Yorkshire-based photographer, writer and keen hill walker.