Whilst the Brits are famous for talking about the weather it’s probably fair to say that very few people visit England for the climate. Though many parts of the country have great summers, in winter in the coldest places in England temperatures rarely get much higher than a few degrees celsius.
With fleeting summers and long cold winters, England’s weather tends not to vary a great deal from region to region. The average summer highs in England are a relatively modest 20 °C. England’s winters run from December to February, and are consistently cold if generally pretty manageable. That said, you’ll still need to wrap up warm if you’re venturing out in the coldest places in England in winter.
As a general rule the further north you go in England the colder it gets. Though snow is relatively rare in winter, cold weather is not, especially at night when temperatures regularly reach below 0 °C. Here are seven of the coldest places in England.
The picturesque market town of Newport in the county of Shropshire holds the record for having the lowest ever temperature in England.
In January 1982 the temperature in Newport reached an all-time low of -26 °C, way beyond the average low of 0 °C for January. Newport’s record low came during an unusually cold winter in Britain that was nicknamed the Big Snow when cold temperature records were broken all across the country. The lowest ever temperature set in Newport smashed a record that had only been set the previous month, when the town of Shawbury, also in Shropshire, reached -25.2 °C.
Though the temperatures seen in January 1982 were extreme, Newport and Shropshire as a whole are known for their particularly cold winters. The region is far inland close to the English border with Wales. This makes the county far from the coastal regions that can bring cooler weather in winter. Much of the area is also at a high altitude and temperatures regularly drop in winter, particularly at night. Even without a freak cold snap Shropshire remains one of the coldest places in England during the winter.
The two cities of Leeds and Bradford are just eight miles apart in North Yorkshire and being so close together predictably share a very similar climate. The two cities are centrally located in the north of England, as far inland and away from either coastline as it’s possible to be. Both cities have an average minimum temperature of just 5.1 °C meaning that they’re both amongst the coldest in England. In January, the coldest month of the year in England, the average temperature in Leeds is a chilly 3 °C.
Like most places in England, extreme weather in Leeds and Bradford at any time of year is rare though not unknown. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the area is -12.6 °C during the exceptionally cold winter of 2010, which saw the coldest December in Britain on record. Oddly, Leeds is one of the driest cities in England, receiving comparatively low levels of rain per year, but also prone to thunderstorms, blizzards and even the occasional tornado. The most recent tornado to hit the city came in 2006 which caused damage to houses and other buildings throughout the city.
The Pennines are a beautiful range of mountains and hills that stretch for around 250 miles through several counties in the north of England. Known for magnificent natural scenery, several areas of the Pennines fall into some of the United Kingdom’s most well-known outdoor beauty spots, such as the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District National Parks. Often called the backbone of England, the Pennines are a magnet for hikers and lovers of the great outdoors and some parts of the range have been designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Yet the peaks of the Pennines are also amongst some of the coldest places in England. Though the Pennines cover a large area, the average temperatures are generally low all year round. The average high temperature for the Pennines even at the height of summer is a very lowly 12.4 °C. In winter, especially at some of the higher altitudes, the Pennines can be very cold, with a daily high of around just 2 °C, and lows -3 °C, though strong cold winds can make it feel a lot colder. Temperatures also dip a lot lower at night and snow is common throughout the peaks of the Pennines during the winter months.
The small, historic town of Berwick on Tweed is one of the most northerly in England. Located high up on England’s north-eastern coast, Berwick is just over two miles away from the border with Scotland. In fact, Berwick is closer to Edinburgh in Scotland than it is to Newcastle, the nearest major city in England. To illustrate just how far north the town lies, Berwick is even further north than the Scandinavian cities of Oslo and Malmo.
Such a northerly geographic position should give you some idea as to how cold it can get in and around Berwick. The highest average temperature for summer in Berwick is a pretty paltry 17.9 °C, which probably won’t have you reaching for the sunscreen. It’s during the winters though that the temperatures in Berwick really take a tumble, where you’ll be lucky if the thermometer reaches much higher than 4 °C from December until late February. If you’re heading out at night you’ll need a few extra layers as the temperature often falls even further to around a jaw-chattering -3 °C.
Head south and inland from Berwick towards the Pennines and you’ll come to York, one of England’s most historic cities. Founded by the Romans in 71AD, the city is famous for its beautiful old architecture, which includes the ancient city walls, a centuries-old castle and, most famously, the spectacular York Minster, one of the largest cathedrals in northern Europe. Along with oodles of history and some fine-looking buildings, York also has plenty of cold weather come the winter.
Like Leeds and Bradford, York is fairly close to the southern tip of the Pennines and the city has a very similar climate to both. From November to February the temperature in York is firmly rooted in single figures, and at the coldest times of the season will often dip below 0 °C. Cold winds, frost and heavy fog are not uncommon during winter too and neither is snow. The lowest temperature ever recorded in York was -16.3 °C during Britain’s record-breaking cold spell in the winter of 2010.
The Lake District
Much like the Pennines, the Lake District National Park is one of England’s most spectacular areas of natural beauty. Named after the huge number of lakes and reservoirs that populate the region, the Lake District is a hugely popular tourist destination, where people come to hike, fish and camp amongst the park’s many lakes, forests, valleys, and mountains. Home to England’s largest lake and tallest mountain, in 2017 the Lake District was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. As with the Pennines, during the winter the Lake District also sees some of the coldest weather in England.
Located in the county of Cumbria in the northwest of England and at high altitude, the Lake District is a bitterly cold place in winter, when strong winds and heavy snow can be expected. Snow can usually be seen on top of the peaks of the Lake District for several months a year, from December often through to as late as April. Whilst the average low temperature for the winter in the Lake District is around 1 °C you can expect it to get much colder during particularly bad winters when some of the lakes have even been known to freeze. The record low for the Lake District came in 1940 when the temperature plummeted to a pretty grizzly -21 °C.
Just to the east of the Pennines is the city of Durham. Much like York, Durham is another northern city filled with history and gorgeous architecture. Durham’s cathedral and neighboring castle, which both date from the 11th century, were both granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1986. And while Durham typically sees less rain than the national average, being located in the far north of England means that the city does get to see some of the country’s coldest weather.
The average daily minimum temperature in Durham is only 5.4 °C, which is amongst the coldest in the country. Though not exactly bone-chilling when compared with some of the coldest regions in the world, such a low minimum average temperature does mean that Durham is officially one of the coldest places in England. As with much of the UK the temperatures here dropped dramatically during the extremely cold winter of 2010 but still not enough to beat the record for the coldest ever recorded low in Durham, which was -18.3 °C in 1895.
What is the coldest city in England?
Officially the coldest city in the UK is one, either or both of Leeds and Bradford. Just a few miles apart from each other they share a virtually identical climate year-round which includes an average minimum temperature of just 5.1 °C, the lowest in England.
What is the coldest it gets in England?
The coldest temperature ever recorded in England was -26 °C in Newport, Shropshire during the exceptionally cold winter of 1981-82. Generally such lows are rare, with typical temperatures in winter in England usually hovering somewhere in the range of -2 °C to 7 °C depending on the region and the time of day.
Where in England gets the most snow?
According to the UK’s Met Office the small town of Copley in County Durham in the Pennines gets the most snow in England. According to their data Copley receives an average of around 53 days of snowfall each year.