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Urban Surfer’s Round Up of Winter Destinations Part 3.

Keeping it Local: UK

Travelling at Christmas time can be expensive and stressful. Why not keep it local and explore the beauties on your door step!

What could be more Christmassy than winter walks, reading a book by the fire, building a snowman, or heading down to the local pub for a warm drink and maybe a little game of Monopoly! Whether you are searching for a white Christmas, amazing Christmas markets, long rambling walks in the countryside, sledding, or maybe some spa pampering we’ve got you covered! This Fox hoodie is your best option to keep warm while navigating the stalls.

Best for Christmas Markets

Christmas markets, with their flawless fairy lights, the aromatic aromas of mulled wine and spices, and the sweet sounds of carollers are the ultimate expression of yuletide spirit. Below is a selection of some of the best around the UK. Look no further for mulled wine, traditional wooden toys, ice rinks and much more.

  • Bath – over 200 stalls line the picturesque streets of Bath around the spectacular Roman Baths and the Abbey. There is an abundance of local goods, and fantastic selections of food and drink! If you head to Bath, be sure to have a spin on the skating rink while you’re there! November 23rd to December 10th.
  • Edinburgh hosts two fantastic Christmas markets every year. Choose between (or visit both!) the Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens, bursting with traditional stalls and delicious food right in the heart of the city, and the West George Street Market, which boasts local food, drink and arts and craft from the country.
  • London hosts a variety of exceptional Christmas markets. Pick from the traditional Nordic Southbank Winter Market(November 14 to December 30) at Royal Festival Hall, to the festive indulgence of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland(November 18 to January 2), which boasts a giant observation wheel, ice rink, circus shows and ice bar alongside the Christmas market. The pop-up town of Winterville occupies a part of Clapham Common from November 23 to January 1, with an indoor market and entertainment including a Street Feast food area, big wheel, crazy golf and roller disco.
  • Brighton has a slightly different spin on Christmas markets! Spread out over three weekends in November and December, local artists open their homes, studios and workshops to sell their work, as part of the Artists Open Houses
  • Winchester this beautiful medieval city hosts one of Southern England’s largest Christmas markets, with around 100 stalls, along with an open-air skating rink. November 20th to December 22nd.

Best for Winter Walks

Winter walks are a quintessentially British wintertime activity. Don’t forget your warm jacket and your ear muffs! Celebrate the diversity of our beautiful landscapes with one of these walks:

  • Worth Matravers & Dancing Ledge, Purbeck, Dorset (seven miles)
    This walk along the Jurassic coast offers a combination of natural and historic man made features. The dramatic cliffs and flat rock sections are very dramatic. This beautiful walk offers an unparalleled rawness and wildness. Start and finish your walk at the Square and Compass Pub.
  • Stonehenge & Durrington Walls, Wiltshire (five miles)
    This wonderful walk allows you to explore two key historic monuments: Durrington Walls and Stonehenge. This circular trail displays the scenery in its full splendour. Guided walks are available in the area. Start and finish the walk at the Stone Henge Inn.
  • Blenheim Great Park, Oxfordshire (five miles)
    This stunning walk takes you around the perimeter of the park. Blenheim Palace is truly magical in winter, with its frozen lake and the screams of delighted children on toboggans filling the air. Start and finish the walk at the Black Prince pub.
  • Hadrian’s Wall Loop, Housesteads & Vindolanda Forts, Northumberland (eight miles)
    Few things can bring history back to life more vibrantly than discovering this scenic route of wild moorland, peppered with woods and loughs, that borders the volcanic ridge on which the wall was built. It’s a panorama that has scarcely changed in nearly 2,000 years. Start and finish the walk at the Milecastle Inn.
  • Balmoral Cairns Circuit (six miles)
    This walk offers superb views over Balmoral Castle and the adjacent countryside of hills and forest. This walk is full of history and offers some spectacular views along the way. Start and finish your walk at the Deeside Inn.

Best for Sports Enthusiasts

There are many great activities on offer throughout the year, why not embrace winter in a different way!

  • Snowskiing This might seem crazy, but the UK does in fact have several ski slopes on offer! All of the ski centres in England are in the Pennines and the Lake District, and despite the fact that they often have very short seasons, when the snow falls, they are most definitely worth visiting! One of the best options is the Lake District Ski Club. For those in Wales, be sure to check out the Cardiff Ski Club. Keep yourself warm on the pistes with this great Roxy jacket!
  • Surfing Autumn and Winter are prime time for hitting the waves, and often produce some of the best waves of the year. Just don’t forget your wetsuit! Cornwall is always a solid bet, Newquay can get crowded so check out Watergate Bay nearby which is a great beginner friendly break. Thurso, in East Scotland offers one of Europe’s best waves, but is more for intermediate to advanced surfers. Llangennith in Wales is a super popular surf spot with less demanding waves, making it easier for beginners. A great surf spot with good swells!
  • Ice Skating There are both pop-up and permanent ice rinks across the UK, but some of the top include the stunning rink at Hampton Court and Somerset House.
  • Ice Climbing Clamber up 15 metres of ice at the biggest indoor ice wall in the world at Ice Factor in Kilochleven. They offer courses for all levels!

Best for a Romantic Weekend

With dropping temperatures, and shorter daylight hours make the best of winter time and snuggle up with your loved one on one of these great short breaks!

  • Discover London’s hidden gems London has so much on offer! Treat yourself to a little retail therapy, catch a theatre show or just admire the sights. Stroll down the South Bank and enjoy the Christmas markets, explore the famous landmarks, walk around Covent Garden, and check out the beautiful ice skating rink in Somerset House!
  • Experience the Migration in Norfolk Every winter, about 50,000 birds arrive in Norfolk from Iceland, Greenland and Arctic Russia. Stay at the Congham Hotel, where a wildlife watching package includes breakfast, dinner and even a pair of binoculars!
  • Spend a Romantic Night Under the Stars in Cornwall in this delightful cabin for two! Arrive to homemade brownies, a fireplace and settle in for a cosy cuddly afternoon, or go for a gentle stroll down to the beach which is ten minutes away.
  • Enjoy the beauty of the Lake District head to the Lake District for Britain’s finest scenery, greenest countryside and grandest views. Stay at a log cabin with your very own hot tub. There is some fantastic food on offer up here, be sure to check out this list of the top ten pubs.
  • Tick the Northern Lights off your Bucket List in Caithness A natural wonder that has captivated humankind for millennia, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are nature’s most dramatic show. Northern Scotland lies on the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway and Nunivak Island in Alaska meaning that you have a pretty solid chance of seeing the show!

 

Stephanie Contomichalos

Stephanie Contomichalos is a sports enthusiast. She is an avid crossfitter, wakeboarder and has recently qualified as a Level 1 CrossFit coach. She is also an advocate for women’s sport and for using sport as a tool for development. She is currently living in Athens, Greece.

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