‘Win­ter frosts lend forests the magic of Nar­nia’

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

The heat­ing is on. The leaves are gone. Dark­ness is de­scend­ing be­fore teatime. Win­ter is upon us, and the temp­ta­tion to curl up and hi­ber­nate is strong. But re­sist! Not only is there plenty of fun to be had in the great Bri­tish out­doors right now, de­spite the chill, it is im­por­tant for your men­tal and phys­i­cal health too.

The NHS es­ti­mates that Sea­sonal Af­fec­tive Dis­or­der (SAD) af­fects one in 15 peo­ple in the UK. The de­pres­sion-like symp­toms – which can be par­tic­u­larly se­vere through­out De­cem­ber, Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary – are the re­sult of de­creased ex­po­sure to sun­light.

Even if you’re not a SAD suf­ferer, get­ting out and mak­ing the most of win­ter’s mea­gre rays can help im­prove your mood. Not to men­tion that leav­ing the house and stay­ing ac­tive can help coun­ter­act the eat­ing and drink­ing ex­cesses of the fes­tive sea­son. Some might be lucky enough to fly south for a shot of win­ter sun. But there’s no need – there are plenty of out­door plea­sures to tempt you off the sofa at home. Bri­tain can be bril­liant in this so-called bad weather.

This is a time of crowd-free trails, hon­ey­pots with­out tourists, air laced with woodsmoke and dark-beamed pubs at their cosiest. It’s a time of new views re­vealed by de­nuded trees, frosts that lend forests the magic of Nar­nia and some of the coun­try’s best wildlife spec­ta­cles – from vast flocks of over­win­ter­ing birds to the birth of wideeyed seal pups.

The Bri­tish land­scape, of­ten lauded for its gen­tle, bucolic charm, can be­come fiercer too. Stormy seas pro­vide gnarlier, more con­sis­tent waves, hill hikes turn into cram­pon-wor­thy ex­pe­di­tions and moun­tains cloaked in snow of­fer Alps-lite sports po­ten­tial. No need to fear, though – there are plenty of ex­perts who can show you how to ex­plore safely through the sea­son. All you need is a sense of ad­ven­ture. And a good coat. dry-land rig – a sort of stand-on tri­cy­cle – through the coun­try­side. Hot drinks around the camp­fire, or even a night spent in the on-site Sami Tipi, adds to the La­p­land vibe.

A two-hour full mush­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with Arc­tic Quest costs £99pp, Tipi from £99 (07968 794758; arc­tic­quest.co.uk).

Tewkes­bury Park looks out on the Cotswolds and Malverns (B&B dou­bles from £99; tele­graph.co.uk/tt-cotswold­stewkes­bury-park-ho­tel).

Cum­bria’s coun­try­side takes on a dif­fer­ent guise in the depths of win­ter

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