There are always reasons to avoid going outdoors when it is chilly, but very often the benefits of putting on your boots can outweigh them.

  1. The wind lashing in your face, maybe with a bit of hail in it just for that added extra sting, the clouds are grey and low, the outlook is unremittingly bleak  – but it’s great to be alive. There’s nothing like having your senses stimulated and tested by the Scottish winter weather to remind you you’re still on the planet.
  2. A walk will put you and yours in a better mood. Dark days, no cash, post-Christmas slump – little wonder divorce proceedings peak in January. Now I can’t promise a walk will save any marriages but I do know that getting out for a walk will iron out any grumps from both children and adults and I can say that from experience.
  3. A lack of leaves on the trees means views that are sometimes completely hidden can open up. Think of the Birks of Aberfeldy and the Hermitage and autumn comes to mind but in winter when the leaves have gone the raging torrents of water can be seen far more easily.
  4. It’s a great time to see winter visitors to our shores, such as the pink-footed geese at the Loch of Strathbeg in Buchan.
  5. A brisk walk means you’re justified in polishing off the rest of the Christmas Quality Street. It’s not gluttony, it’s refuelling.
  6. It’s not just good for the soul, it’s good for the body – scientists say that moving from warm house to warm car to warm office isn’t doing us any good. Our bodies need to cope with some changes in temperature to stay healthy.
  7. Even in the depths of winter, there are new signs of life – the purple blur on the birch trees, the snowdrops poking through the soil.
  8. New year, new place. Perfect time to seek out somewhere different while you’re all full of good resolutions and feelings of a new start. For me it is all about finding new walks for my columns in the Scots Magazine and Scotland on Sunday.
  9. This may sound terribly curmudgeonly and unsociable but a beach walk in winter is brilliant because of the lack of crowds. Yellowcraig beach in East Lothian is a good example – a sunny Saturday in the summer hols and it’s packed – still a lovely beach but it’s a whole different experience walking in the (relative) solitude of a January day.
  10. It’s a cheap way to get cracking on those New Year’s resolutions to stay fit – so long as you’ve got a good pair of walking shoes, you’re good to go and Scotland is your oyster
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