With the weather in the UK as unpredictable as it is, you never know what conditions you will meet when going hiking or camping.
This having been said it also makes it a far more attractive prospect to get outdoors in winter months. If you wait until the cold really hits then you could get a lovely clear sky, with a fresh and cold feel which can be far more enjoyable than a warmer day. The key to enjoying your camping or hiking experience in a UK Winter is being prepared. If you've done your research and packed accordingly then you should be ready for anything.
Scope out weather reports, and locate areas that are popular with winter campers. Ideally you want fairly even terrain, just in case it snows and you can't see the ground. Find out about campsites that are open year round and read reviews. If you're hiking from site to site then do plan where you will make camp each night ahead of time, and remember everything takes twice as long in the cold. Have back up campsites closer together just in case you're short on time, or daylight.
Having the right equipment is absolutely crucial when it comes to winter camping in relative comfort. Cross the basics off your list first:
In the daytime your temperature will be in constant flux, so layers are the order of the day. Make sure it's easy to take you outer layer off if you get too warm; sweat is your enemy when hiking in winter - you'll lose heat as it evaporates and are also more likely to dehydrate. If you're stood still for a while then it's important to have your outer layer to hand though, as it surprising how cold you can get when you stop.
When it comes to making camp in winter, and particularly in the snow there are few things so tricky as getting your tent pitched. You might think it's a good idea to camp under trees, but if it's snowing don't forget the amount that has or will accumulate in the branches. You don't want clumps of snow falling on your tent in the middle of the night so stick to the open.
Try to find a clear patch with little snow to set up camp. If there aren't any then be sure to stamp the snow down where you'll be camping - otherwise your tent could sink into the snow in the night. Make sure you have a proper snow stakes, which are designed to get the most surface area should the weather get a little blustery. The most important thing to remember once you're prepared is to keep an open mind. The wonderful thing about the great outdoors is that anything can happen, and as long as you've done your planning 'anything' is not a problem!