Virtual escapes: winter wonderlands
Take a virtual journey through Britain's snowy mountains, magical woodlands and along icy rivers with our stay-at-home guide to the UK's most incredible winter landscapes
We all love the great outdoors, but sometimes actually getting out there can be difficult. Perhaps you have limited mobility and find the logistics of experiencing the wider landscape challenging, or maybe the Coronavirus crisis means you don't feel comfortable travelling. Perhaps you don't deal well with the cold, or maybe that dream location – and the time and money it takes to get there – feels just out of reach.
We at BBC Countryfile Magazine have always shared wonderful wildlife stories and beautiful landscapes, not only to inspire future trips but also as a means for vicarious adventure.
Our virtual escapes series brings together some of the most awe-inspiring nature and landscape videos from across the UK, meaning you can sit back and relax from the comfort of your home and get your fix of the great outdoors even if you can’t physically be there.
Here, we explore the the serenity and drama of Britain's winter wonderlands, from the great peaks of Snowdonia to the peaceful winter fields of Dorset.
Our virtual escapes series brings together a collection of spectacular films, taking you on a visual journey through the British landscape. Discover majestic mountains, shimmering shores and peaceful rivers with our virtual escapes.
Lake District, England
The Lake District National Park comprises 912 square miles of high mountains, lakes, rivers and coastline, and receives almost 16 million visitors a year. No wonder it was loved so dearly by Beatrix potter, Alfred Wainwright, Arthur Ransome and William and Dorothy Wordsworth.
The UK’s single-most visited national park, the Lake District swarms with visitors drinking in its scenic delights in the warmer months. But in its lesser-known corners, as winter sweeps across the land, a sense of quiet takes ahold, as seen in this mesmerising drone film by Pearson Media:
Snowdonia was Wales’s first national park, formed in 1951 to protect the environment, particularly around Snowdon – the highest peak in England and Wales at 1,085m (3,560ft). It remains the largest national park in Wales, celebrated for the sheer diversity of its landscape: 15 mountain tops over 900m (3,000ft), 23 miles of glistening coastline, limpid lakes, serene ancient woodland and cascading waterfalls are all found within the park’s 823 square miles of north-west Wales.
This spectacular aerial film (The Great Outdoors by Drone) explore's the national park's highest mountain, Snowdon, in the midst of winter:
The landscapes of the north-west Highlands are particularly glorious in winter. In this remote region, you’ll find the highest waterfalls, biggest sea cliffs and the most unusual and spectacular mountains in Britain, along with beautiful lochs (both sea and freshwater), golden-sand beaches and some of the oldest rocks in the world.
From Loch Duich and the familiar sight of Eilean Donan Castle all the way to Cape Wrath at the north-west corner of mainland Scotland, the north-west Highlands is a truly thrilling experience – escape to this remote corner of Britain with this aerial adventure from Rob Farrington:
Northern Ireland contains just 1.8m people – roughly a fifth of London’s population. Indeed, the density of humans is so low that it can often feel as though you have the countryside to yourself; each path your own, save the scuttle of a red squirrel or the chirrup of a songbird. When snow falls, this feels especially true, as Steve found out as he left Northern Ireland's lowlands for the white tops of the Mourne Mountains:
Dorset may be full of visitors in July and August – its beaches packed, queues at its teashops – but the rest of the year it is blissfully quiet; 1930s quiet, even Iron Age quiet.
At the summit of the hills, the land opens out briefly to expose a patchwork quilt of small woods and fields bounded by hedgerows. This short film by Sam & Marta Tansey explores the landscapes around one of the county's most famous landmarks, Corfe Castle:
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Vast snowfields sweep to the horizon, covering the great, rolling, tundra-like plateaux. Icy cliffs, frozen waterfalls and huge, steep-sided, snow-filled corries ring the mountain. Lochs and lochans are frozen hard.
It’s winter in the high Cairngorms. Deep glens and passes cleave through the mountains. These can be as wild and wintry as the summits, great clefts through which the winds roar and the snow blasts. Below the high tops lie magnificent Caledonian pine forests, part of the subarctic boreal forest that rings the globe. Here the snow lies quietly, settling on the trees and whitening the forest floor.
Experience this wild corner of the British Isles with a winter film by Phil James:
Peak District, England
There’s something especially magical about a Peakland Christmas. However, it’s unusual these days to have a snowfall that lasts over the Christmas holiday period. But sometimes you can be lucky as heavy snow covers the landscape in a brilliant white blanket. The landscape, especially on the higher ground like Kinder Scout and Bleaklow, is absolutely spectacular in this weather, as these modest heights put on a passable impression of real Alpine conditions.
Enjoy a snowy sunrise in the Peak District with this beautiful drone film by LSP Media:
Brecon Beacons, Wales
Home to a mix of mountains and moorland, standing stones, castles, waterfalls and wildlife, the Brecon Beacons National Park extends for 42 miles from east to west, and is divided into three distinct areas: the Black Mountains in the east, the Brecon Beacons and Fforest Fawr in the centre, and the Black Mountain region (formerly called the Camarthen Fans) in the largely Welsh-speaking west.
Experience some of this mesmerising scenery, viewed under a blanket of snow, with this winter drone footage by Blast Kiteboarding: