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Walking in a Winter Wonderland


Video credit goes to Parafilm Productions

Having endured seven winters in Arctic Norway you would have thought I had had quite enough of extreme temperatures and an unforgiving landscape covered in deep snow poised and ready to engulf those unprepared to engage with this ferocious environment. So it may come as a surprise that I can’t think of anything further from the truth, for there is nothing more exhilarating than a winter trail. Whether you’re experiencing the beauty of the Northern Lights in the far reaches of the arctic tundra, or gazing with total bewilderment as you carve out a route stomping across the North York Moors.

This is a very special time within the walking calendar where we can encapsulate all the beauty of our wonderful winter season. Experience that bite in the air that prompts us to continue on our path, cutting through the landscape, attentive to every step, unaware of the hidden danger lurking beneath a few inches of fragile snow. We pause to check out the countless creatures that have gone before us leaving a tale in the snow with their own tracks. This clutter of higgledy-piggledy footprints once referred to by Ernest Thompson Seton as “the oldest known writing on earth.” Fragments of frozen snow enhance the beauty of each boot print as you cross this unforgiving landscape.

Enter the forest and that once vibrant mass of colour reduced to an army of stripped lifeless timbers. The ice clinging to every twig beating the branch into submission, oh how they must yearn for the first signs of spring. Contouring down to the wooded valley bottom, the roar of the river hits you long before it comes into view. A torrent of water cascades down from the hills forming an ever impressive obstacle of white water frothing from the very mouth of the river. A sudden movement catches my attention and quickly I look to my left and focus on the wily feathery silhouette of a dipper moving stealthily through the snow close to the river edge. Then without further warning disappears into the cold depths of the Icy water in search of its next winter meal.

There is something very enchanting about  winter walking whether it’s an appreciation of seeing this wonderful landscape in total retreat, fighting the elements and relying on the natural world to help out and survive the onslaught this bleakest of seasons can throw our way. Maybe the health benefits of winter walking are a key attraction as you consume large gasps of clear crisp and healthy air, experiencing the coldness in each lung as they are engulfed in freezing freshness.

Whatever your reasons enjoy that special moment and join Walk Yorkshire on the winter trails, witness first-hand the beauty and the mystery of this medieval landscape. Stand bold on Roulston Scar and exhibit that statement of power as you gaze into oblivion like the Brigante tribesman did several thousand years before you. On a clear day a snow covered Wherneside will be stood proud, the largest of the Yorkshire Three Peaks recognisable by its distinct flat top. This magnificent viewpoint once described by James Herriot as the finest view in England.