With winter sweeping across the UK, what are the best activities you can take part in to make the most of the season?
1. Snowboarding and Skiing.
For those of you with a love of outdoor sports (and a bit of money), you could spend your winter skiing and snowboarding right here in the UK without the hassle of airports, flight delays and extra baggage. The Snow Centre, located in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, offers an artificial environment complete with ski lifts, a ‘mountain,’ and is layered with real snow. The Chill Factore in Manchester’s Trafford Centre is the UK’s longest indoor ski slope which offers not only the chance to ski and snowboard, but also a variety of events throughout the year including freestyle competitions and races. If the artificial environment isn’t for you, head for the nation’s ski capital, Aviemore in the Cairngorms, which comes alive as the winter snow drapes over the Scottish mountain range. The Ben Nevis range also offers a first-rate skiing experience, boasting of 35 ski runs on the UK’s biggest mountain side. The après ski includes everything from a cinema and leisure centre to pubs and hotels. Much more affordable than the alps, you can combine a ski trip with a cultural getaway to enjoy the rest of the Scottish Highlands.
2. Snow Shoeing
Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it, no one has. Snow shoeing is an amazing way to explore some of the most stunning winter landscapes the uk has to offer. Eden Outdoor Adventures offers full day or half day guided tours in the Lake District, Scotland and North Pennines, with your snowshoes enabling you to walk across deep snow and explore areas that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.
3. Natural Hot Springs
The spas in Bath, Somerset, are fed by the only hot springs in the UK. You can spend your morning exploring the ancient baths and learning how our Roman predecessors used these baths to relax and conduct business not only in England but all over the Empire hundreds of years ago. In the afternoon you can book yourself into the Thermae Bath Spa to enjoy the open-air rooftop pool, relax in the warm waters of the Minerva Bath and breath in the soothing vapours of the steam rooms.
4. Go Curling
Curling, or “chess on ice”, is a fun, very strategic and surprisingly strenuous sport that can be played by people of all ages and abilities that has had a fairly recent boost in its popularity all over the country. Although most curling rinks are located in Scotland— which is home to the world’s oldest curling club, Kilsyth Curling Club— curling rinks are popping up all over the country, including Roof East in London and Fenton’s Park in Kent. Take a beginner’s class and see what all the fuss is about!
5. Go Dog Sledding
When you hear “dog sledding” you probably think of a Scandinavian being dragged under the northern lights in the snow. Well, we have a far less impressive version of this right here in the UK. Cairngorm Sleddog Centre lets you experience what has to be one of the most exhilarating winter activities at the foot of the Cairngorms in Aviemore.
6. Watch the Nutters Dance
If you’ve got nothing better to do on Easter Sunday this year, you should probably head over to Bacup in Lancashire and watch the Nutters Dance. Every year the town of Bacup plays host to eight men with blackened faces, wooden bobbins tied to their knees and clogs on their feet, dancing non-stop through the streets for seven miles. Their blackened faces represent their coal-mining roots. The dancers are led by a Whipper-in, or a hunter’s guide, who directs them on their 12-hour dance through the town.
7. The Padstow ‘Obby ‘Oss
The ‘Obby ‘Oss, or Hobby Horse, is thought to be the UK’s oldest dance festival with tens of thousands of people converging on the tiny Cornish town every May Day holiday. There are several theories as to the origin of the ‘Obby ‘Oss. Some people believe it is left over from an old pagan fertility festival, or it may be a relic of ancient Celtic horse worship or perhaps a warning to would-be seaside invaders. The town is decorated in greenery, and a maypole is erected. Two dance troupes led by the Old ‘Oss, someone in a horse costume, dance through the street as the ‘Oss collects young women and conceals them in a fertility cloak, with the Blue Ribbon ‘Oss symbolising peace dancing with the troupes. Once this is done, the people return to the ‘stables’ which are two local pubs.