The joys of winter walking

At WalkingWomen, we love the seasons and we love bringing you holidays that mean you can experience a place throughout the seasons. To return to a place in the summer, having been there in winter is like discovering a completely new place. To see the spring flowers appear as the snow melts, to walk in t-shirts in the warm sun after the crisp minus temperatures of winter, to walk through landscapes filled with the orange leaves of Autumn and now to walk in the misty evening light of November. All wonderful walking and what we want to share with you as we curate our wonderful walking holiday programme.

As we in the northern hemisphere are now in winter, we wanted to share a little of the joy of this season. Come with our guide, Sue as she walks in her beloved Scotland.

As the nights draw in and the days get shorter the opportunities for walking can appear more limited and less attractive. But for those who put on the extra layers and prepare there is so much to embrace in these harsher conditions.

There are a couple of Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000ft or 914.4 metres)that I’ve had my eye on tackling for a while, and last weekend – mid-November – looked to be dry and fairly settled, so I set out early to make the most of the daylight and arrived at my start point in Glen Doll ready to start at around 9 am. The two mountains are Driesh at 947 metres and Mayar at 928 metres above the Angus glens.

The route starts through the mixed conifer and deciduous forest of Glen Doll; the air is fresh, and the leaves are still turning brown and golden and cover the path that leads up the Kilbo trail to the plateau. It is quiet, and there are only a couple of other walkers about, though I can hear the sound of stags rutting in the far distance – it’s lovely to get out early both to get the special morning light and also to beat the crowds though generally in Scotland that is not a problem! I am also aware of the damp smell of leaves, moss, pine cones and needles.

Getting up onto the plateau, it is extremely windy – I need both poles to help keep me upright, but up at Driesh, there is a stone shelter, and I’m able to sit down and have some coffee and a roll. The views are spectacular – the colder air and sunshine mean the visibility is excellent, and I can see for miles. There are peaks in the distance with the first dustings of snow, and they sparkle in the sunshine. The puddles on the plateau have frozen over, and my dog Willow has to break the ice to have a drink.

The walk over to the other peak is exposed, but even with the chilly wind, I can feel the subtle warmth of the sun on my face (known as apricity), and it makes me even more grateful for these winter pleasures. It’s such a great feeling to be in the elements but to feel warm while walking across the crunchy, slightly frozen peat, short moss and heather.

Scotland

It’s an icy descent into the beautiful Corrie Fee, and the added rainfall makes the burns full and the waterfalls louder and faster. There is nothing like filling your water bottle from the burns, and the water is extra refreshing! The glen I am looking down on is a huge, glaciated area with the most fantastic drumlins littering the bottom of the glen in the distance. I stop further down for some soup and still feel exhilarated from the day’s excursion and the beautiful scenery I have walked through. Willow has had an amazing time on the hill and is always grateful for the extra biscuits I take along.

I hope this is the first of many winter excursions – when the weather is not so good, then lowland walks can offer the same exceptional experiences. To get the best out of the days, I always check the mountain weather forecast, take the appropriate clothing and extra layers, a thermos of soup and coffee, snacks and a fleecy coat and plenty of biscuits for Willow along with all the other usual mountain equipment. Sunglasses and sunscreens need to be packed, too, if you’re lucky!  

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. – SOREN KIERKEGAARD

If you would like to walk with Sue in Scotland, join her on our Perthshire walk to tackle some Munro Mountains together ScotlandwithSue


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