Wales’ climate is heavily influenced by the Irish Sea and snowfall – even at altitude is quiet rare. Snowdon typically gets snowfall on around 30 days a year, but it rarely lingers for more than a few days.
Cairngorm Plateau, Highland
A genuinely extreme environment in winter, where snow falls on more than 50 days a year and temperatures regular drop to -10 degrees or lower and stay there for days on end. Heavy snowfall here will typically linger for several weeks and during the harsh winter of 2010-11 – the entire plateau was covered in snow from November to April.
Cross Fell, North Pennines
Sitting just to the northwest of Teesdale, this high-level plateau is the biggest expanse of terrain over 3,000ft above sea level in England, where temperatures are often as much as 10 degrees cooler than in the surrounding lowlands. Snow often lies on north-facing slopes here until June. In the neighbouring valley of the South Tyne, there’s even a permanent ski lift at Yad Moss, where the locals can enjoy a swift 600m descent of the snowy slopes of the 2,500ft high Burnhope Seat.
At 1,300ft above sea level, Princetown is one of the highest towns in Britain and although it’s only a few miles from the relative warmth of the coast, the town experiences some of the highest snowfall in the entire south of England.
How to stay safe in the snow
Venturing out into this winter wonderland is a magical experience, but it’s also important to be properly prepared for the conditions.
Check the forecast before setting out and if there is a risk of further snowfall or blizzard conditions, don’t go onto the high fells. Be mindful of your abilities and keep within them.
Walking with crampons and ice axes require some training and practice, so seek advice before venturing into upland areas where their use is recommended.
Wear suitable clothing and take extra layers. In winter, this means:
- A thermal base layer
- Light fleece
- Heavier fleece or soft shell
- Waterproof jacket
- Down jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- Sturdy boots
- Hat and gloves
- Torch and spare batteries
- Take hot drinks AND cold drinks and extra food.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged and if you get into difficulties, Dial 999 or 112 and ask for ‘Police’ then ‘Mountain Rescue’.
As long as the snow isn’t TOO deep, The Cow Green Geological Trail offers superb views over Cow Green reservoir to Meldon Hill and the Cross Fell Massif, before descending via the impressive reservoir dam, past Cauldron Snout and along the infant River Tees via the steep-sided valley below the craggy edge of Falcon Clints.
This 8km route starts at the Langdon Beck Hotel, following the quiet road up to the viewpoint on the eastern bank of Cow Green Reservoir, before skirting the reservoir’s southeastern corner and following the Tees to Widdybank Farm then following the Pennine Way and returning across Widdybank Pasture to the Langdon Beck.
After really heavy snow, the lower level Geotrail along the Tees visits High Force and Low Force from the Bowlees Visitor Centre and is an easier and safer option. Downloadable routes for both walks available from www.explorenorthpennines.org.uk
Main image: Getty
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