There may be a definite chill in the air, but there’s still loads of fun to be had and great things to do, so don’t pack away your motorhome just yet. In this guide, we’re sharing some of our favourite winter touring activities to try.
Colder nights and frosty mornings mean much more than defrosting the ’van and icy pavements – they also mean watching your spiralling breath on a countryside walk and spotting a delicate spider’s web outlined in sparkling frost, having a snowball fight and perhaps even dancing about in the rain.
Avoid the heat and crowds of summer, swap those sunglasses for a woolly hat and step out into a winter wonderland.
Never did hot chocolate or hot toddy taste so good! Most important these days, don’t forget all those low-season special offers and bargains to be had at motorhome sites across the country.
Wondering what you should do to make sure your winter tour goes smoothly? Then take a look at our guide to touring in winter.
A winter wildlife walk
If you prefer to be on the move, how about a woodland wander to observe some of the country’s more elusive wildlife?
Red squirrels will be easier to spot as they scurry around the leafless trees looking for food, while the grey squirrels are going to be pairing up, ready to mate.
Deer are more likely to spend time closer to us humans in their own search for food and again, will be easier to spot through the naked winter branches.
Stay at Braidhaugh Park, in Crieff, Scotland, and you might even be treated to the sight of mountain hares, which shed their brown summer coats for white to camouflage themselves against snow and frost.
There is reasonable walking in the nearby Glenturret area, as there are plenty of good estate tracks, but be aware of potentially winding wintry roads.
If you prefer to be a spectator of the snowy weather, this is another campsite that offers hot tubs, so you can stay warm while enjoying a winter wonderland.
There is more great walking to be had in Sherwood Forest, where Sherwood Pines Campsite makes an ideal base. Located close to the Forest Visitor Centre and numerous walking and cycling trails, you won’t be stuck for things to do.
Even if you visited a wood during the summer, they offer a different world in winter and are well worth wrapping up in hat, scarf and gloves to explore.
Look out for tracks in the mud or snow – that could be badgers, foxes or hares.
While you’re out and about, why not don your wellies and indulge in some puddle-jumping or kicking through the fallen leaves? Embrace the season and your inner child, and just have fun.
Speaking of wellies and that inner child, how about some rockpooling? You’ll be amazed at the sheer variety of creatures and plants you can find under the rocks, in the pools, around the crevices and among the seaweed all along the coast of Britain.
Turn over a rock in the middle of a pool and you’ll spot all kinds of wildlife, including crabs, starfish, limpets, perhaps even shrimps and blennies, using it as shelter and a source of food – just make sure you replace the rock as you found it.
Be aware of the tides, too – low tide is obviously best for exploring exposed pools and rocks, but most importantly, you want to make sure that you don’t get cut off by the returning tide.
Pitching up at The Buttles Caravan Park, a relaxing, family-run campsite in Pembrokeshire, south Wales, will put you just a short drive from the beach at Saundersfoot, which is an ideal spot for wading about in those wellies.
Home Farm Holiday Centre, on Somerset’s beautiful Quantock coast, which boasts a fine beach, an indoor swimming pool and the on-site Harness Bar among its amenities, is close to Watchet, with its pretty harbour and two great rockpooling beaches, West Street and Helwell Bay (aka Fossil Beach).
Keep your eyes peeled for Devil’s Toenails – actually the fossilised shells of a now-extinct species of oyster, but you’ll see how they got their name.
Watch the sun rising or setting
Yes, it’s dark at 4pm and rather cold. But instead of huddling inside the ’van, why not take advantage of that gloomy afternoon? Put on a few cosy layers of clothing and sit outside, watching the glorious sunset.
Photographers don’t call the hour just before sundown the golden, or magic, hour for nothing. A cloudy sky and clear, frosty air make for red, pink, orange and purple skies as the sun sinks below the horizon.
A very good spot to enjoy brilliant sunsets – or sunrises, which are at a more amenable hour in winter – is Blue Skies campsite (no electric hook-up), near Wells-next-the-Sea in beautiful Norfolk.
A coast-hopper bus service stops just outside the site if you don’t fancy the short walk or drive into town (but check the timetable). Wrap up warm to sit on the beach, or at one of the town’s pubs or restaurants, and watch the sun go down and the world go by.
If it’s a clear night, you can enjoy a spot of winter stargazing – how many constellations can you recognise? And what better way to start the day than a morning walk as the sun comes up?
You don’t have to be on the coast, either. Climb a hill in the countryside for views of the evening sky (watch the weather, and be careful not to get caught out in fog or heavy rain), or visit one of the UK’s many glorious historic buildings.
Fountains Abbey, Ripon, North Yorkshire, provides a great backdrop to a wintry sunset. Stay at Ivy Bank Caravan and Camping Site and take advantage of their hot tub if you prefer to watch the sunset nearer your own comfortable home on wheels.
Bring the outdoors in
If you can’t face the cold, then head indoors! This country is blessed with many attractions where you can while away a chilly day, such as The Eden Project in Cornwall. The world’s largest indoor rainforest is here, along with Mediterranean gardens and North American prairies.
If the weather is kind, there are plenty of outdoor spaces to explore, too, including inspiring gardens, art exhibitions and learning areas – and don’t forget that all-important lunch in one of the excellent cafés, such as the Biome Kitchen, Med Terrace or Eden Coffee House.
A 10-minute drive or 20-minute walk away is Doubletrees Farm Caravan & Campsite. Return here after a day beneath the biomes, to enjoy the views. You can also take a look at our best motorhome site in Cornwall guide for more campsite ideas in this beautiful part of the world, if you’re thinking of touring the region.
Weymouth Sea Life Centre is another great place to spend a winter day, but remember that parts of the centre are outside, so you might still need an umbrella!
Gone are the flamboyant roses of summer, but in their place are peaceful heathers and hellebores, and who can resist a pansy peeking above the frost, or a shrub covered in red berries? Many public gardens have dedicated winter areas and their trails make walking easier in wet weather. They often have cafés as well, where you can dry off and warm up.
The Savill Garden, just outside Windsor, makes a great afternoon out, with maples and cherries providing a stunning display.
Stay at nearby Chertsey Camping and Caravanning Club Site, on the banks of the Thames. It is also not far from RHS Garden Wisley, where you’ll find a wonderful Winter Walk.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the world’s leading botanical gardens, with a history that stretches back more than 350 years, and 70 acres of fabulous planting. Look out for great views of the city skyline while you wander.
Enjoy the glorious winter evening light show, then relax at nearby Mortonhall Caravan & Camping Park.
Take a trip to a museum
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to museums. You can choose from the international collections, such as London’s Natural History Museum and The British Museum , or more specialised venues, such as the rather splendid Derwent Pencil Museum, in Keswick, or the House of Marbles, in Devon. Wherever you tour, you are bound to find one that interests you.
The National Museum Cardiff, within walking distance of Cardiff Caravan & Camping Park, is packed with history and art, and makes the perfect spot for a rainy afternoon.
Or why not spend a winter weekend in Brighton and visit the Toy and Model Museum? This Aladdin’s cave houses thousands of exhibits, ranging from Dinky cars to Steiff bears and more – you’re certain to spot something familiar! Stay at the Caravan & Motorhome Club’s Brighton site (caravanclub.co.uk) to be within walking distance of beach and town (alternatively, there is a handy bus into the town centre).
A spot of birdwatching
There is something really special about spotting an owl among the bare tree branches during a winter woodland walk, or witnessing the truly spectacular sight of a murmuration of starlings swooping and diving as one in the dusk skies.
Alton Water, near Ipswich in Suffolk, has 400 acres of walking and nature trails, as well as a reservoir that attracts a huge variety of birdlife, including barn owls and kingfishers. Many other species, such as teal and pochard, overwinter here.
And there’s no better place to base yourselves than The White Horse, less than a mile away and ready to welcome you with a good meal before a roaring fire.
Devon’s Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve hosts thousands of overwintering birds on its mudflats and grasslands. Look out for the bright orange beaks of oystercatchers and the pretty widgeon, among many others.
Cofton Holiday Park is waiting to provide you with a comfortable pitch and great indoor leisure facilities, or their bar, where you can enjoy a pint of Devon cider when you’re relaxing after a day watching our feathered friends. Take a look at our best motorhome site in Devon round up for more campsite destinations in the region.
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