Life has undoubtedly been turned upside down because of COVID-19. From learning how to bake bread at home to moving out of big cities, adapting to the ‘new normal’ has seen millions of people in the UK find new ways to keep busy. The stunning summer months made getting outside a breeze, but with drops in temperature and increasing rain, getting that daily walk in suddenly feels less appealing.

Enter friluftsliv: a Norwegian concept that means “a commitment to celebrating time outdoors, no matter the weather forecast.” And rightfully so: regularly spending time outdoors in nature has huge benefits for our health and wellbeing. In fact, in a 2019 study, scientists found that spending just 20 minutes a day in nature reduces stress. But with different tiers and rules across the country, and a unanimous desire to enjoy life safely and responsibly outside our homes, where can people in the UK get outdoors while social distancing this winter?

Now, new research by Clarks reveals nature’s best-kept secrets in every county in the UK that give locals the chance to embrace the outdoors this season; all while social distancing and adhering to guidelines.

Clarks analysed over 5,000 TripAdvisor listings to showcase which parks, forests, beaches or hiking trails are among the least reviewed, but best rated; hidden gems that are perfect for a winter walk.

Sebastian Edwards, Men’s Business Manager at Clarks said: “Devon and Cornwall are typically renowned for amazing stretches of coastline, which is certainly true – but for a quieter seaside stroll, our research showed that Scotland is home to seven of the top ten best kept secret beaches in the UK. With the analysis covering every county in the country, however, there should be parks, forests, beaches, and hiking trails closer to home for everyone to enjoy while social distancing. For anyone who doesn’t want to hit the high street, or where tier rules mean local stores are currently closed, we’re committed to helping our customers find their ultimate pair of boots online to enjoy the outdoors in this season.”

Several places in the North East made the national shortlist, including the beautiful Marske Sands Beach, Tyne Riverside Country Park and Hebburn Fountain Park.

Here’s the list for Tyne and Wear:

Place Proportion of 5-star ratings among all TripAdvisor reviews
Tyne Riverside Country Park 100.00%
Monkton Fell 100.00%
Hebburn Fountain Park 94.74%
Derwenthaugh Country Park 72.22%
Sandhaven Beach 70.73%
Birkheads Secret Gardens 68.75%
Cullercoats Beach 65.42%
Richardson Dees Park 63.04%
Bents Park 62.07%
Chopwell Woodland Park 58.82%
Northumberland Park 54.24%
Bede’s Way Walk 50.00%
Thompson Park 40.00%
Exhibition Park 38.60%
Elba Park 34.78%
Paddy Freeman’s Park 31.82%
And here’s the list for North Yorkshire:
Place Proportion of 5-star ratings among all TripAdvisor reviews
Marske Sands Beach 86.05%
Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens 83.71%
Pen-y-ghent 82.54%
Gordale Scar 78.95%
The Homestead 78.79%
Along the Coast at Robin Hood’s Bay 76.19%
Crescent Gardens 76.06%
Lordstones Country Park 73.33%
Pennine Way National Trail 72.22%
Cattersty Sands Beach 71.11%
West Burton Falls 70.97%
Farndale (North York Moors National Park) 69.57%
Boggle Hole 66.67%
Guisborough Forest 65.47%
Saltwick Bay Beach 63.01%
Northwood Trail Fairy Sanctuary 58.49%
Redcar Beach 53.85%
Glen Gardens 53.62%
Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail 53.49%
Bebra Gardens 50.00%
Dean’s Park 50.00%
Fairy Dell 48.33%
West Bank Park 46.67%
Albert Park 44.44%
Flatts Lane Woodland Country Park 41.82%
Selby Park 36.36%
Locke Park 32.39%
Ripon Rowels Walk 27.27%
Sutton Park 26.19%
Zetland Park 17.65%