There are lots of things I love about winter: clear sunny days; beautiful light; a cosy pub with an open fire; starry nights; and who can forget our gin palace igloo built in early 2018 when the ‘Beast from the East’ made itself known.
Despite these admittedly fab things to enjoy about winter, I have to confess that overall I find the cold temperatures and frigid air just a bit too cold for me to fully enjoy my usual fun in the outdoors.
So, like many people in the UK, I often find that my adventurous spirit is in full hibernation by the end of January.
However, fear not fellow adventurers, this year I’m hear to help. If you’re looking ignite your inner fire for adventure, read on for 28 ways you can make February a little more exciting.
1. Watch a sunset from the top of a hill
The winter months are a great time to watch the sunset. Not only is the air often clearer (giving amazing sunsets) but it gets dark earlier meaning that you don’t have to be out on the hill until 10pm!
You could even stay up there overnight and watch the sunrise the next morning – ticking off numbers 2 and 3 from the list in the process.
2. Watch a sunrise from the top of a hill
3. Wild camp on the top of a hill
4. Feed the birds
During cold winter weather, birds need high fat foods to help maintain their fat reserves. By feeding them regularly, your feathered friends will become frequent visitors to your garden – and if you put your feeders in good view of windows, you can sit and watch them from the comfort of a warm room.
RSPB guidelines suggest that you put food and water out for garden birds on a regular basis during winter, and twice daily in severe weather.
5. Visit the coast for a walk
Give me a choice of mountains or coast, and I’m usually firmly in the mountain camp. However, there’s something that draws me to our coastal places during winter. I love a wild walk along the cliffs and beaches – followed up by a warm cuppa in a cosy cafe. While you’re there, you could tick off number 6 too.
6. Go for a wild swim
You might not think that winter is a good time for a dip in the outdoors, but there is plenty of documented evidence online which states how good cold water swimming is for mental health. However, swimming in cold water especially in winter comes with its own risks, so check out the advice from the Outdoor Swimming Society and ensure that you have somebody with you.
I’m not a regular cold water swimmer by any stretch of the imagination, but do sometimes find the urge to take a dip. Click here to read about my birthday dip last winter.
7. Go running in the woods
Woodland paths are great for winter running. The trees often protect you from the worst of the weather and make the temperature feel a bit warmer.
8. Practice your navigation skills
Make the most of any time you spend closer to home in the winter months by learning how to navigate well, then you’ll feel more confident by the time you’re out in the wilds. Use your local OS map and a compass, and navigate around your local roads and tracks.
9. Grab a blanket & have a hot chocolate in the garden
Give yourself a dose of Vitamin D by wrapping up warm and sitting outside with a warming hot chocolate – add a little of your favourite tipple to make a cheeky hot chocolate 😉
Alternatively, pack up a blanket, sandwich and flask of hot soup and head out into the countryside for a winter picnic – or grab some breakfast items and visit your local woods to cook breakfast.
If that’s too much to think about, just take your camping stove into the garden and cook a meal there.
10. Have a winter picnic
11. Cook breakfast outside
12. Cook on your camping stove in the garden
13. Go sledging
If the snow comes down, let your inner kid out to play. I can remember one winter’s day when we were snowed in, so we joined the local kids from the village in their sledging field – surprisingly we were the only adults playing out.
14. Be a tourist at home
Often, the places on our doorstep are ignored because we can go there any time so check out the leaflets in local libraries, tourist information offices and hotels to see what you might be missing.
15. Plan some adventures
If the weather is miserable and you don’t feel like layering up to get outside, take the opportunity to plan your adventures and challenges for the year ahead. You could look at doing 1 adventure a month, ticking off some Lake District Wainwrights, walking a long distance path, or attending some events.
16. Go stargazing
Winter nights can be really clear and great for watching the stars, plus it gets dark early. One of my favourite experiences in New Zealand was a star gazing trip with someone who explained all the myths and stories behind the constellations – plus we were given mugs of hot chocolate to stay warm, always a bonus.
The National Parks Dark Skies Festival starts in February with lots of events for all the family.
17. Take a different path
We’ve got some stunning walking right from our doorstep, but I often find I’m walking the same route. By taking a different path, it can give me a whole new perspective and inject a little adventure into my life – something I wrote about recently in my blog post about Letting your curiosity run wild.
In the spirit of changing things up a little, check numbers 18 and 19.
18. Alter your commute to work
19. Use public transport to start your walk or bike ride
20. Go on a night walk
It’s tempting to stay by the fire on cold dark evenings, but a good head torch will mean that you can stretch your legs and still go on a good walk. The dark adds a completely different dimension to the experience and will guarantee you get a good injection of adventure in your life. You may even hear owls or see badgers.
21. Go on a night ride
In the same vein, good bike lights will mean that you can keep biking through the winter months. To go mountain biking, you’ll need a good handlebar light plus a light on your helmet (when you’re snaking through the woods, your head needs to light up a different place to the direction of your bike).
22. Sleep in a bothy
Pack the wine, chocolate and a good meal and then combine a walk or bike ride with a trip out to a bothy with friends for an alternative Saturday night out. The Mountain Bothies Association has lots of information on their website. If there’s no bothy nearby, how about a wild camp with friends?
23. Wild camp with friends
24. Get inspired at an adventure festival
You’ll find adventure festivals throughout the year, but there are 3 in Scotland during February: Edinburgh; Fort William; and Braemar. My blog post Mountain/Adventure Festivals UK: 2019 Calendar will give you more information and dates.
25. Climb a hill/stand on top of a mountain
Find a hill and go climb it, get up high and feed your soul.
26. Enter a challenge
Browse for endurance challenges, races and events from the comfort of your living room. Book on one and you’ll suddenly have a very good reason to leave the sofa and start training.
27. Practise your photography
The light in winter is often fantastic for photography, so use it as an opportunity to get some fresh air and play around with the settings on your camera.
You could also combine it with a 28 day challenge.
28. Do a 28 day challenge
February is a short month, so if you’re going to challenge yourself there are a few less days for you to stick to the plan! How about a photo a day, a blog post a day, get outdoors every day….the possibilities are endless!
So there you go, 28 different ideas which you could put into action during February. In the spirit of openness, I freely admit that I’m not likely to do all 28 of them myself, but researching and writing this article has already given me a little spark to ignite my sense of adventure in readiness for spring.
If you have any great ideas yourself, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.