Winter Walks With The YHA

Try a walking staycation with the YHA...

By Cotswold Outdoor

As winter rolls on the temptation to hibernate and hold out for the spring grows but the UK’s landscapes are spectacular and dramatic at this time of year so why not beat the winter blues, blow away the cobwebs and plan a staycation with YHA?


With doorstep access to England and Wales’ most rewarding routes, you’ll find beautiful YHA properties up mountains, on clifftops and along coastal tracks. Youth hostels provide the perfect base for a relaxing and rewarding walking break with facilities to dry your kit as well as restaurants where you can fill your boots. To get you started we’ve teamed up with YHA to bring you five wonderful winter destinations with walks a plenty.

The Forest Fawr Geopark, Walks Around Waterfall Country, Brecon

Generally speaking, the Brecon Beacons provides an easier alternative to wild Snowdonia at this time of year. And with a little rainfall which, let’s face it, we’re all but guaranteed, Waterfall country will be one of the most awe-inspiring places to be. Pounding torrents spill from on high in the steep, tree-lined gorges of the Fforest Fawr Geopark. There are many routes to choose from, with a good path network and almost all of the higher ground is open access countryside.


Explore the walking trails in waterfall country


Where to stay: YHA Brecon Beacons 


This cosy 19th-century farmhouse is set in a tranquil position in 15 acres of ancient woodland, overlooking the River Tarell. Step outside and there are breath-taking views towards Pen y Fan, the highest peak in South Wales. Following a recent renovation project, the 41-bed YHA Brecon Beacons hostel is now brighter, airier and more inviting than ever before. It features a cosy lounge with plenty of sofas, arm chairs and a wood burning stove. Simply put, it’s the perfect place to rest and recuperate after a day out among the wilds and waterfalls of Wales.

Tarn Hows - Miles Without Stiles, The Lake District

This circular and accessible 1.8 mile route takes you around the three mountain pools of Tarn Hows. This is one of Lakeland’s most popular spots so if you visit in the colder months you can more easily avoid the crowds. Moreover, when the water freezes and the surrounding hills are dusted with snow, it’s a sight to set spirits soaring. Simply drive up, park up, and enjoy a stroll that offers the most magnificent views of the Lake District’s mountains.


Discover the Tarn Hows route


Where to stay: YHA Ambleside


This flagship hostel in the heart of the Lake District sits right on the shores of Lake Windermere. It offers doorstep access to wonderful walks and as many water sports as you could wish for. Plus, the charming village of Ambleside itself is just a short stroll away. Following a £1.4 million renovation, YHA Ambleside boasts top notch facilities, a decked waterfront terrace, a licensed restaurant and a Trip Advisor 2015 Certificate of Excellence. For those that haven’t been hostelling for a while, this place will first amaze and then convert you.

The Pendle Way, Lancashire

England’s most famous and well documented witch trials took place in Lancashire in 1612. This long distance, 48 mile route links the slopes of Pendle Hill, home to the two families of sorcerers, to the place of their imprisonment, Lancaster Castle, and the site of their eventual execution, the village of Golgotha. The walk is also a beautiful one with the Forests of Pendle and Bowland enchanting ramblers along the way.


Have a look at the Pendle Witches Way


Where to stay: YHA Arnside


Located a train ride away from Lancaster Castle, with access to the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District National Parks, the affordable YHA Arnside can be found just above Morecombe bay and boasts 69 beds in an Edwardian house.

North Moor Crossing, Dartmoor

Bookended by YHA hostels, this challenging linear route crosses one of England’s finest wildernesses. Less tourist-friendly than the South Moor, Dartmoor’s North Moor can appear formidable but, with its distinctive granite tors and wild forests, it is also utterly beguiling. Plus there’s a comfortable bed at the beginning and end. You won’t cross a road until you get to Postbridge (under 2 miles from your destination) and this route passes both High Willhays and Yes Tor, the two highest points in England south of Kinder Scout. To add additional complexity and interest, ascend High Willhays from Okehampton and then progress southeast via Cranmere Pool, the location of the first Dartmoor letterbox – a real navigation challenge in the mists of a Dartmoor winter.


Explore the North Moor Crossing


Where to stay: YHA Okehampton or YHA Dartmoor


Converted from a Victorian railway goods shed into a modern hostel with its own grounds, YHA Okehampton is also a licensed activity centre offering over 20 different outdoor pursuits from pony trekking to gorge scrambling. With its railway station location, it’s the ideal jump off point for a number of long-distance walks, including the West Devon Way (to Plymouth), Two Castles Trail (to Launceston), Tarka Trail (to North Devon) and the Devonshire Heartland Way (to the Exe Valley).


YHA Dartmoor is also well connected, with access to a network of off-road routes for walking and cycling holidays. Nestled beside Bellever Forest and surrounded by open moorland, this rural retreat provides a charming and comfortable place to relax (especially with a local ale) after a day of adventures. Take some time to wander the grounds and you may encounter our famous Dartmoor pony neighbours.

Edale Skyline, Peak District

Locally famous and an absolute must-do if you’re able, the Edale Skyline is a high level circuit around the entire valley. The terrain is a real mixed bag that includes rocky footpaths, grassy tracks, flagged sections, peat bogs and heather trods so if you’re going in winter, go prepared! Access to this epic route couldn’t be easier: simply walk uphill from the hostel. The circuit takes in Win Hill, Lose Hill, Mam Tor and the whole of the southern flank of Kinder Scout. If your navigations skills could use a little work, join one of YHA Edale’s qualified instructors on a weekend walking course and tackle this titan together.


Explore the Edale Skyline


Where to stay: YHA Edale


With its adjoining activity centre, fantastic facilities, knowledgeable staff and proximity to peerless natural wonders, YHA Edale is perfectly positioned for incredible adventures in the great outdoors. This grand old country house is situated on the southern flanks of Kinder Scout and is one of the highest residences in the Peak District.

In Partnership with



We are proud to be the official Recommended Outdoor Clothing and Equipment Retailer for YHA. By working with YHA we aim to inspire all members to explore and enjoy the outdoors, and our expert staff can offer advice and fitting services, helping you to go further and discover new areas.

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