Travel and Adventure

Britain's top five winter drives

Learn to love British winter with one of these five mini adventures. Wednesday, 28 November

By Chris Chilton

‘There’s no such thing as bad weather,’ said the legendary Lakeland fell walker and guidebook author Alfred Wainwright. ‘Only unsuitable clothing.’ Equip yourself with a decent coat, gloves and pair of boots and there’s no need to curl up in front of the TV during the winter months when there’s so much more to explore outside.

And Wainright’s maxim can just as easily be applied to the car you choose to help you explore. A cold snap can strike fear into any driver worried at being caught out by ice, snow or just a dead battery. But Subaru SUVs promise the same blend of exceptional safety, capability and reliability credentials whatever the conditions thanks to the combination of permanent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and horizontally-opposed Boxer engine that has seen three SUVs in the range achieve the maximum 5* Euro NCAP safety rating.

So which winter adventure will you choose first?

 

1 See the Northern Lights at Galloway Forest Park

One of nature’s greatest sights, the Northern Lights, or more correctly, the Aurora Borealis, are visible on cold, cloudless nights and most commonly associated with Scandinavia. But they’re visible from the UK too, particularly in Scotland, where they’re known as the ‘Mirrie Dancers’.

Given the right conditions you can see them from Shetland to Edinburgh, but one of the best, and still-accessible sites is the Dark Sky Park at Galloway Forest Park, just 90 minutes from Glasgow.

The ethereal glow of the Lights is caused by the sun accelerating charged gaseous particles into the Earth’s atmosphere, different combinations of gases creating different coloured auroras from red or blue to the more commonly seen green. But you don’t need to understand the science to be captivated by the magic.

 

2 Lizard Point, mainland Britain’s most southerly point.

Birds aren’t ones for hanging about when the winter chill bites, and for humans, too, there’s both a real and psychological appeal of heading south in cold weather. Forget Land's End, though. Short of jumping in a boat or a plane, you can’t travel further south in mainland Britain than Lizard Point in Cornwall. You can’t expect to jump out of the warm climate controlled interior of your Subaru wearing a T-shirt in December, but 4 degrees warmer than Manchester isn’t to be sniffed at.

Located in The Lizard, a peninsula in southern Cornwall that forms part of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this stunning, unspoilt coastline had claimed many ships both before and after the first lighthouse was erected here in 1619.

The current lighthouse dates back to 1751 and the Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre features a fascinating display showcasing its history and how technology has changed over the years.

3 Bath’s hot springs

Having left the warm climes of southern Italy, it’s not hard to see why the Romans found Bath and it’s hot springs so appealing. But after the city’s thermal baths closed in 1978, modern visitors could only live vicariously through tales of the Romans escaping Britain’s winter weather.

That changed in 2007 when Thermae Bath Spa opened after years of planning, giving Brits missing summer weather a chance to escape the cold. Bath’s Hetling, Cross and King springs supply around  1million litres of water each day to the spa at a temperature of 45 degrees C, which ought to be reason enough to visit, but the real draw is the rooftop pool giving spectacular views across the historic city.

 

4 Skiing in the Pennines

A Subaru SUV is the perfect partner for a week in the Alps with its permanent All-Wheel Drive grip in all conditions, handy roof rails for carrying skis or snowboards and the security of Subaru’s EyeSight safety technology to keep you safe on the long motorway trek across France.

But did you know there are multiple outdoor ski centres in the UK? And no, they’re not all located in Scotland. Most southerly is Another World Snowboard & Ski Centre near Halifax, situated at a chilly 350m above sea level in the Pennines. When conditions are right, there are two miles of cross-country tracks with floodlit downhill runs of up to 150m and even on-site ski hire, but unlike the reliability of a Subaru SUV the snow isn’t guaranteed.

 

5 Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum

From lantern festivals to travellers hoping to catch a glimpse of Aurora Borealis, winter light shows are increasingly popular across the UK, but to experience one that takes the Earth’s natural beauty and uses artificial light to make us see it in a different way, visit the Westonbirt Arboretum.

Located close to Tetbury in Gloucestershire, the arboretum was created in the mid to late 1800s by planting trees from all over the world. Rather than being grouped by their region of origin, they were planted purely based on aesthetic appeal, and for winter that aesthetic takes a new dimension. A series of hidden lights illuminate the trees allowing visitors to see them as never before.

 

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