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

Countryfile Magazine - - Contents -

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.

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