7 alternative UK winter breaks

written by Greg Dickinson
updated 12/12/2021
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Try alternative UK winter breaks. Forget grim weather, ignore long, dark nights and have fun instead. Check out seven unusual UK breaks chosen by Greg Dickinson to cheer up winter.

1. Visit free roaming reindeer on alternative UK winter breaks

Visit Cairngorm Reindeer in the Cairngorms, close to Aviemore. Established in 1952, it's home to the UK's only free roaming winter herd. The herd's now 150 reindeer strong and winter tours are available with expert herders. Keen to meet reindeer? Stay at The Balavoulin in Aviemore.

See reindeer on alternative UK winter breaks in Scotland @ A D Harvey/Shutterstock

2. Visit Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

Tour Dark Hedges from Belfast. This legendary Northern Ireland avenue of gnarled trees soared to fame as a Game of Thrones filming location. It's magical any time of year, but particularly otherworldly in the depths of winter.

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Dark Hedges in North Ireland, especially atmospheric in winter Michael Rocktaeschel/Shutterstock

3. Escape to the Mediterranean in Wales

Head to Portmeirion in North West Wales during winter. This unique 1920's village was designed by Clough Williams-Ellis and it's renowned for Italianate-style architecture, pastel painted buildings and pretty piazza.

Winter weather's mild in this little pocket of Wales so you can still explore Portmeirion's gorgeous sub-tropical gardens. If you want to stay longer and see the local area, think about booking a winter break at Portmeiron Village.

4. Learn woodland survival skills in East Midlands

To learn about surviving in East Midlands book a winter course at Woodland Survival Crafts. This back to nature experiences teaches you foraging, overnight survival techniques and basic bush craft skills. At the end of the day, stay at SACO Derby nearby.

Learn woodland survival on alternative UK winter breaks in East Midlands /CC0

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5. Go husky sledding in Gloucestershire

Swap Alaska for Gloucestershire and go dog sledding at Arctic Quest. Trained husky teams navigate custom built dog sledding tracks here. Snow-free sleds, mean it's not weather-dependant. And both day courses and overnight stays are available. Alternatively, book The Fleet Inn in Tewkesbury.

6. See the northern lights in Shetland

Travel to Shetland and see the Northern Lights. The closest UK area to the North Pole it's best for Northern Light activity in winter. And the Aurora Borealis has been seen in these parts so often, it's known locally as the Mirrie Dancers.

However, sightings can be difficult to predict, so it's best to plan a winter week here. Think about staying at Norlande in Lerwick. The Orkney islands are another top Northern Lights' destination worth visiting between November and February.

7. Walk with wolves in Cumbria

Try a Predator Experience near Humphrey Head in the Lake District this winter. The wandering wolves are a hybrid-breed - pure-bred wolves are illegal in the UK - and Predator Experience also offers walks with hawks and foxes. Relax after at Grange Boutique Hotel in Cumbria.

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written by Greg Dickinson
updated 12/12/2021
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