It would be lazy to call Shetland beautiful. Instead, its landscapes are often stark, harsh and austere – and in winter, even more so. But that is why I love it so much and why I return, time and time again. I would much rather be on a swirling beach, entirely by myself, than I would on a warm one with a thousand other people.
Pandemic or no pandemic, silence is golden. And for a few days, at least, the wind, rain, moon and stars not only had the power to soothe, but to heal.
How to do it
Loganair (0344 800 2855; loganair.co.uk) flies direct from Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness.
On Shetland’s mainland, the Lerwick Hotel (01595 692166; shetlandhotels.com) stays open throughout the winter and offers hearty evening meals and a good breakfast.
Busta House (01806 522506; bustahouse.com) is a 16th-century country pile with a lively bar, and Hayhoull B&B (01950 422206; bedandbreakfastshetland.co.uk) is just 15 minutes from the airport at Sumburgh.
On Unst, Mailersta B&B (01957 755344; shetlandvisitor.com/mailersta-bb) is five minutes by car from the Belmont ferry terminal.
5 ways to make the most of winter
From seals to snowdrops and snowy landscapes, Britain has much to offer
Chase storms in Wales
Pembrokeshire is battered by an average 30 days of gale- force winds each year, with some of the biggest storms making landfall between January and March. Storm Barra delivered 86mph gusts to the Gower Peninsula as recently as December, but the Llyn Peninsula was rattled by 109mph winds back in 2013.
Discover snowdrops in Gloucestershire
The first flowers of spring turn the frosted banks of Painswick’s Rococo Garden into an undulating sea of bright white and fresh green. Around five million snowdrops appear towards the end of January, including rare varieties, such as the double form and the Galanthus nivalis ‘Atkinsii’ – a large species with petals that resemble drop-pearl earrings.