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A skier at the top of Glencoe ski resort.
A skier at the top of Glencoe ski resort. Photograph: Kenny Ferguson/Alamy
A skier at the top of Glencoe ski resort. Photograph: Kenny Ferguson/Alamy

‘This cure works for all’: readers’ favourite trips to banish winter blues

Winter walks by day and night, remote hideaways, French riviera rail trips and Turin’s hot chocolate are among our tipsters’ remedies for dark January days
Scroll down to see the winner

Winter fun in Glencoe, the Highlands

Nothing beats an impromptu road trip when it comes to an exciting journey to somewhere new at the darkest and dullest time of year. To the south of Glencoe village, Glencoe Mountain Resort (microlodges for two from £75 a night) provides accessible sledging and skiing, and lovely winter walks – a near-Scandi experience for those on a budget. Breathing the bracing Scottish air and enjoying the stunning landscapes are the tonics we all need to keep us going until spring. Sleeping in a cosy microlodge adds to the adventure and makes the best of this short getaway.
Claire Renton

Night walking, Lancashire

A snowy walk in Rivington, as the sun goes down.
A snowy walk in Rivington, as the sun goes down. Photograph: Chris Bull/Alamy

During the lockdown winters we discovered the pleasures of night walking. We live in Manchester in the middle of high light pollution but a shortish drive from Rivington, near Chorley with its accessible woodland and moorland. Bare trees and high moorland allow enough moonlight for walking safely without torchlight, awakening all the senses and totally embracing the beauty of dark winter evenings. I love gazing at the city lights in the distance, the colourful teatime sunsets and the fresh cold air.

Vistas and hot chocolate, Turin, Italy

Bicerin, a traditional hot drink of Turin.
Bicerin, a traditional hot drink of Turin. Photograph: Alamy

The city of Turin, home to Juventus, Fiat and Lavazza coffee, is full of churches, museums, palaces and piazzas, but out of season it sees few tourists. Don’t miss the Mole Antonelliana tower, whose lift whizzes up 85 metres to an observation deck. My favourite view is from the Torre Campanaria, where, for a bargain €4, you can view the skyline including the Mole. Afterwards, warm up with a glass of traditional bicerin, a layered concoction of hot chocolate, espresso and frothed milk. I was blessed with winter sun; if you’re not, there’s an eclectic mix of world- class museums and 18km of covered walkways to explore.
Christine Reardon

Horizontal rain cleared the cobwebs, Yorkshire Dales

Pen-y-ghent in the Yorkshire Dales
A walker on Pen-y-ghent. Photograph: Rebecca Cole/Alamy

A January trip up Pen-y-ghent in the Yorkshire Dales is a surefire way to blow away the Christmas cobwebs. The forecast looked clear and when we arrived it was a beautiful morning, but the higher we climbed, the more the weather turned – gale-force winds and driving, horizontal rain. All this added to the fun and challenge of scaling the peak, and made the flask of tea and sandwich at the top that bit more rewarding. The weather improved for the descent and overall it made for a fantastic January walk, ending with a pint in front of the welcoming fire at the Golden Lion in Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

The wild coast of Wester Ross, Scotland

The peak of Slioch and Loch Maree.
The peak of Slioch and Loch Maree. Photograph: Stewart Smith/Alamy

We had an amazing time spending New Year’s Eve and then the next week at Poolewe Beach House (from £900 a week, sleeps nine). It’s a two-hour drive from Inverness and pretty remote but only six miles from Gairloch, where we went for coffee and hot chocolate daily. There are so many amazing beaches there that go on for ever. For visitors in spring and summer, Inverewe Garden is nearby. Poolewe is between two beautiful lochs – the sea loch Ewe and inland Maree.
Morag Yule

Do go chasing waterfalls, Snowdonia

Aber Falls
Aber Falls. Photograph: Alan Barr/Alamy

A spectacular Snowdonia waterfall is our go-to cure for the January blues – just off the A55 a gentle path climbs two miles from the village of Abergwyngregyn to the foot of Aber Falls. We’ve taken all the family with pushchair, wheelchair and a picnic, enjoying the mountain ponies and stunning views on the way and finishing at Cafe Hen Felin or the Aber Falls Cafe. On other days, we strode up on our own and finished with a tour of Aber Falls distillery nearby. Whether its bracing or relaxing, this cure works for all.
Susanna C

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Chuck a turnip, Extremadura, Spain

Jarramplas in Piornal.
Jarramplas in Piornal. Photograph: Fotoeventis/Alamy

A lot of people who visit Spain have heard of the Tomatina festival which involves throwing tomatoes. Less famous but equally absurd is Jarramplas (19-20 January) in the Extremadura village of Piornal (140 miles west of Madrid). A local volunteer dresses in a colourful bogeyman costume and runs around playing a little drum while local people throw turnips at them as punishment for being a cattle rustler. Like most Spanish fiestas it is an extraordinary spectacle which also serves an excuse for socialising and partying in the streets and plazas.
Sarah Collings


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Walkers’ paradise, Madeira

Levadas are irrigation channels that twist through Madeira’s hills.
Levadas are irrigation channels that twist through Madeira’s hills, offering walking routes. Photograph: Nigel Francis/Alamy

Madeira has always been my choice for a mid-winter adventure holiday. Lying off the north-west coast of Africa, the island is synonymous with winter sun package holidays. But this mountainous island offers so much more. It is a walkers’ paradise, with some of the most jaw-dropping vistas in the world. Those looking for a leisurely stroll can stick with the well-known mountain levadas (narrow irrigation channels) while those who want to get their heart pumping can opt for the more challenging veradas, a network of well-maintained paths connecting the islands’ highest peaks, some of which rise to 1,850 metres.
Cassandra Jackson-Baker

Cornwall’s indoor sub-tropical paradise

The Eden Project.
The Eden Project. Photograph: John Barratt/Alamy

Bracing walks are all very well but if it’s tipping down, only the very hardy will head for the hills and coasts. I prefer to go where weather doesn’t matter, so the Eden Project is my port of call to banish the winter blues. I like to awaken the senses with the sights and smells of warmer sunnier times ahead and get inspiration for gardening projects and creations of a little bit of paradise in my own back garden. For those seeking adrenaline there are plenty of opportunities to soar, dive, bounce and swing thanks to Hangloose Adventures and its zip wires and aerial skyways. For those seeking education on preserving our beautiful planet, this is the place to go and grasp what you can do to help. And for those just after a change of scenery – it is certainly that.
Tracey Belcher

Winning tip: Nice way to get to Côte d’Azur

Promenade des Anglais, Nice.
Promenade des Anglais, Nice. Photograph: Imageplotter/Alamy

Our best January blues decision was a short break by train in late January to the Côte d’Azur, near Nice. It was easy to get the Eurostar and TGV and reach Nice within a day – our train left London St Pancras at 9.30am and we arrived in Nice at 8pm. The tourist office has links to accommodation for all tastes and budgets. Last year we found the beaches empty, temperatures in the mild teens, the restaurants relaxed and unhurried. We bought local transport tickets at and explored the hilltop artists’ community St Paul de Vence and the Rothschild villa perched by the sea. The market and Picasso Museum in Antibes was a lovely short trip, as was a border hop into Italy on the coastal railway for a wander through the gardens and old town of Sanremo.
Rosie Edwards

Please use the comments to share your own January blues favourites.

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