Tips for winter hiking

Despite of the cold weather, winter hiking can be great fun! You can enjoy crowd free trails and drinking hot tea will never taste as good as on a chilly day. To ensure you have a great experience, we have collected tips and tricks for people looking for a winter hiking adventure.

  1. Dress like an onion: It is good to have at least 3 or more layers on you so you can regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable. But try to resist the temptation of dressing too warmly. You may feel chilly in the first 10-15 minutes, but once you get moving you will warm up quickly. It is really important to adjust your temperature by adding or removing layers.
  2. Start Early: Don’t forget that the sun sets earlier in the winter months, so it’s probably a bit late to start a 10 mile walk at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Plan an early start and make sure that you will be off the trail before it gets dark to avoid getting lost.
  3. Check the weather: It might not be snowing when you set off, however it is essential to check the weather conditions before you go out hiking in winter. An unexpected shower can make you wet and cold.
  4. Pack some hot beverage: Add some comfort to your trip by taking tea, coffee, or hot chocolate with you in a thermos. A hot drink can warm you up and give you a nice winter glow.
  5. Know your limits: When planning your winter hike, be reasonable about the distance. Your goal is most probably to have fun rather than freezing outside.
  6. Short breaks: The longer you stop the colder you become. If the weather turns nasty, keep breaks short and to a minimum. If for whatever reason you do need to take a longer break, put on an extra layer or two until you begin hiking again.
New Forest National Parks in Autumn.

With Sion Donovan.

The New Forest Waking Festival 2015

The walking festival has 80 guided wildlife walks, history hikes, family adventures and activity walks across the Forest. The walks run from the 17 October to 1 November and let you discover ancient woodlands, wild heaths, free roaming pigs and ponies under the guidance of local experts.

Many of the walks are free or discounted for people who travel by bus, train, bike or on foot.

Walks include:

  • Free-roaming pigs, ponies and the rights of commoning
  • Ancient woods and the Forest’s largest oak tree
  • Wild play and family adventure walks
  • The Japanese practice of ‘Forest bathing’
  • World War II secrets from a prisoner of war camp
  • Photography workshops in stunning locations.

Booking is advised as there are limited spaces. Full details and bookings can be found at: www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/walkingfestival

For printable lists of all the walks on offer, click here.

Why not join in the festival and combine it with a stay at Sandy Balls?

Lodge Type Sleeps 16-19 October
(3 nights)
19-23 October
(4 nights)
Laid-back 4 £337 £327
Laid-back Plus 6 £450 £429
Premium 4 £409 £399
Premium Plus 6 £500 £479


Stay for a weekend break 16-19 October and join a ranger on a 4 mile walk through the autumnal forest enjoying the autumn colours and fungi or get closer to nature with a stroll across forest lawns, past ancient trees and through nearby Deerleap Inclosure.

During a mid-week stay 19-23 October there are several exciting events available to book from ‘Forest Bathing’, a sensory tree walk to a walk through the Ancient and Ornamental woodlands in search of the oldest beech tree in the Forest. You can also see an interactive exhibition revealing newly discovered archaeological sites and a circular walk around Beaulieu Airfield exploring pre-war archaeology.

This is a great opportunity to discover more about the history, woodlands and creatures of the New Forest.

Book Online or call 0844 693 1050

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