If you want to banish the winter blues, getting active is a great way to do it. There are a host of fantastic destinations for walking holidays in the colder months of the year, so pack your hiking boots and head off for a challenge.
Even if you don’t have more than a week to take off work, there are some great trekking destinations reasonably close to the UK. Here are just three that should be on your radar.
Bulgaria’s Rila Mountains
If you still want to have a wintry feel to your getaway, but would prefer snow to rain, Bulgaria is the perfect destination to choose. It’s not as busy as some of the other snow-sure locations in Europe, so you can look forward to uncrowded trails when you strap on a pair of snowshoes and head out to explore.
The Rila Mountains are part of the largest national park in Bulgaria that spans some 81,046 hectares. During a winter walking break here you’ll hike across meadows and through pine forests where the branches of the trees are dripping with snow.
You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Rila Monastery – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – which was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila. What makes this such an important place is its links to Bulgarian art, history and culture, as the monastery is home to a vast library, as well as an extensive collection of religious artworks. The architecture of the buildings – many of which were reconstructed in the 19th century – is a striking emblem of Bulgaria’s renaissance period.
Morocco’s Mount Toubkal
The hike to the top of Mount Toubkal may well be on your list of treks to tackle and if you want an additional challenge – as well as the chance to see this majestic peak dusted with snow – winter is the perfect time to travel to Morocco.
At 4,167 m high, Mount Toubkal is the tallest peak in North Africa and, although it’s possible to walk to the top, it’s a strenuous trek. That just makes it all the more rewarding when you reach the summit and are greeted by stunning views across the rest of the High Atlas Mountains, the Anti Atlas peaks and the Sahara.
From your starting point in Imlil, it is just over two days of walking to ascend Toubkal. The day before you attempt to reach the summit, you’ll be given some guidance about using the ice axes and crampons you’ll require to make it up the highest slopes of the mountain.
If that’s not enough of a challenge on your walking break, you may also have the chance to climb the nearby Mount Ouanoukrim, which is a more difficult ascent despite being almost 100 m shorter than Toubkal. Much of the trail is likely to be covered in snow, while there are some rocky sections that require you to scramble as you climb higher. The views from the top make it more than worth the effort though.
Spain’s Outer Canary Islands
Should you be keen to escape the cold weather for a week or two of walking, Spain’s Canary Islands are likely to be a better choice. Booking a tour that visits the lesser-known isles of La Gomera and El Hierro is a great way to see some unspoilt landscapes while soaking up some sunshine.
Over the course of a 12-day trip, you’ll follow various trails on both islands, but climbing Alto de Garajonay – the highest point on La Gomera – is bound to be a highlight. The peak stands at 1,484 m and from the top you’ll have panoramic views across the entire island. The walk will pass through sections of lush forest and lead you to the charming hamlet of El Cedro.
Another memorable hike on this holiday will be the route from Cruz de los Reyes to Santuario de Nuestra Senora de los Reyes on El Hierro. This trek will see you walk past various landscapes, including pine forests, lava fields and barren volcanoes.
If you’re planning a walking holiday this winter, let us know where you’ll be going.