If you want ski lessons or guides, each of the ski resorts provide lessons and/or have a ski school but be sure to check ahead as lessons may need to be booked in advance. Winter Skills courses in the Cairngorms Arc Guiding’s Cairngorm Winter Skills courses provide essential training needed to make the transition from summer to winter hillwalking. Hiking is good year-round but if you want to do the longer or more mountainous trails, I’d recommend late Spring/summer/early autumn so you don’t need to worry about snow/ice. We were very grateful to our driver guide Sally for all the help in spotting during the day, and the hide was a wonderful spot to spy on some of the local night critters! If you are thinking about visiting the Cairngorms National Park in winter, we’ve put together a list of things to do in the Cairngorms during the winter that includes skiing, winter hiking, whisky tasting, exploring historical sites, wildlife watching, and visiting popular family attractions. The park can be traversed via hundreds of miles of footpaths and bike paths, offering visitors the choice of a wide variety of short easy trails to long-distance mountain trails. In winter these summits can often be reached by ski touring. Both of the gin distilleries also do tastings and run tours, but you’ll need to book ahead. But there are plenty of other great places locally to stay. The official establishment of the national parks in Scotland are relatively new (Loch Lomond in 2002 and Cairngorms in 2003) so not super well-known outside of the UK, but they have long been a popular holiday destination for those wanting to be outdoors and do hiking, biking, camping, fishing, birding, etc. It wouldn't be a Watch without the sound of fiddles! Two of the best known mountains in the park are Cairn Gorm (4,084 ft) and Ben Macdui (4,259 feet) which is the second tallest mountain in the UK and the tallest within the park. If you want to see the reindeer, you can join a daily guided hill trip that starts at the Reindeer Centre, or you can visit the exhibition and see a few of the reindeer at the paddocks in Glenmore. Want to keep up to date with us and our latest travel tips? You can read more about our own personal experience riding the Caledonian Sleeper as it is one of our favorite ways to get from London to Edinburgh and vice versa. Unfortunately the steam train does not operate on any normal schedule during most of the winter and does not run every day. As always, this article contains only our own honest thoughts and opinions. Then in the evening at their hide, we saw 2 pine martens, 5 badgers, and several little wood mice. You might also consider renting a cottage, holiday home, or booking an apartment so that you can prepare you own meals and have more solitude. The Whisky seems like a good idea, considering how cold it looks up there. For many, winter sends a shiver down the spine but for a few of us it’s a tingle of excitement. Hi Seana, Yes, the Cairngorms is a great place for wildlife, especially for birds in Scotland! This is located in the northeast of Scotland. However, they do run special services in the winter so do check the schedule if you are interested. Aviemore is the hub for accommodation, eateries and outdoor shops. The Cairngorms include 4 of the 5 highest mountains in Scotland’s amidst a massive, sub-arctic plateau which offers some fantastic hill-walking and mountaineering all year round. Top 5 Things to Do in the Cairngorms in Winter. To make the most of your time in the park, you’ll want to be prepared for the winter weather by packing warm clothing (we always wear thermal baselayers throughout the winter), waterproof jackets, and durable waterproof shoes. It goes across the highest public road in Britain. If you like active outdoor activities and whisky, the Cairngorms offers a good mix of both ~ Jessica. Carrbridge is a great little town with a nice bridge and spotting the wood sculptures is fun. Please scroll to the end to leave a comment. Please check your e-mail to confirm your sign-up. The park believes that captive breeding of these native animals may be needed to help boost wild numbers in the future. Cairngorms National Park. 14 The Square Or you can simply enjoy the snow with more low-key activities like snow walks, snowball fights, and snowman building! There is also a herd of over 150 reindeer in the Cairngorms National Park. Some seasons we get less snow so it is hard for the ski slopes to operate throughout the winter. One of the better known courses is the scenic Boat of Garten Golf Club which was designed by James Braid. They can tailor a tour to suit based on what you want to see, your group size, the amount of time you have, and your level of mobility. We did hikes within the Craigellachie National Nature Reserve near Aviemore, to Loch an Eilein at Rothiemurchus (a good picnic spot, note there is a small parking fee), around Abernethy Forest near Nethy Bridge (this trail was just outside of our cottage), a couple of the local riverside and forest village paths around Carrbridge, and a hike in Allean Forest (just south of the park). We really like the Cairngorm Brewery in Aviemore which has a great selection of beers and you can also do brewery tours and/or tastings here. Speciality bird species on the plateaux include breeding ptarmigan, dotterel, snow bunting, golden eagle, ring ouzel, and red grouse. Those looking for guidance on hikes within the Cairngorms should check out the WalkHighlands website and consider a local hiking guidebook such as this one. Both Loch Lomond and Cairngorms are beautiful natural areas and the Cairngorms in particular is well-known for its birds, wildlife, and preservation of ancient forest. The historical and cultural sites look particularly inviting. Ballater Information Centre. Don't miss out on our exclusive monthly giveaways with lots of fun travel and photography related prizes! Before heading to any of the ski resorts in the Cairngorms, be sure to check the weather and snow forecasts first, as high winds, lack of snow, severe weather, or avalanches can cause ski resorts to temporarily close during the winter. Wildlife is also good year-round and in fact winter can be easier because of the snow and they go further in search of food. Enjoy a picturesque hike around a local loch off the tourist trail, complete with mountains framing the banks, pristine strands of ancient Caledonian Pine forest and a ruined castle sitting on a tiny island in its centre. The Cairngorms National Park with Aviemore at its centre makes an ideal holiday destination with plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure.. Those on two wheels will want to check out the local cycle paths and mountain bike paths, which range from flat paved family-friendly routes to difficult mountain routes. Part of the Snow Roads route is also part of the new North East 250 tourist route which is a good way to connect the Cairngorms with Aberdeen and the east coast villages. Our Distillery Shop is now open to the public, with a selection of our gins, craft … Here is the official brochure for more information about the route and where it goes. If hurtling downhill doesn’t take your fancy then the Park is a great place for cross-country skiing with centres at the Slochd and Glenmore where miles of ski trails and forest tracks means you can explore and get away from the crowds. There are a number of small towns and villages located within the park that are worth taking the time to explore. They offers a variety of activities and tours from kennel and museum visits to 2 day sled dog safari tours. One of my favorite parts of traveling is to get to see new species beyond what typically lives in my backyard (which is a lot, but still, only that which survives in my region.) This course ensure you have the skills, knowledge & training to travel Scottish mountains safely in winter conditions. Winter also means that sunrise is not too early and sunset is not very late, so easy to capture both in one day without sacrificing any sleep! Cairngorms National Park: Winter wonderland - See 221 traveler reviews, 433 candid photos, and great deals for Aviemore and the Cairngorms, UK, at Tripadvisor. Restaurants and grocery stores may also close earlier than you expect. A lone Scots pine protrudes from the snow on the moors below the Cairngorm Plateau. Carrbridge has a chainsaw carving trail where you can spot over 30 wooden carvings of things like owls, Nessie, unicorns, dragons, squirrels, etc. In the Spring and Summer months you have even more options as there are also many seasonal museums, heritage centers, castles, and outdoor amusement areas that generally re-open around April each year. Hi Katherine, Yes whisky is always a popular option in Scotland as it rarely gets what you’d call hot However, it also doesn’t get super cold either, nothing near Arctic temperatures so it is cold but not super cold if that makes sense. If the weather is good, winter is a great time to visit as the crowds are low and the wait time for rides are minimal. Cairngorms National Park is located in northeast Scotland, officially established as a park in 2003. And there is no better place for those who love nothing more than getting in and about snow than the Cairngorms National Park, easily the largest national park in … Grantown on Spey The Cairngorms National Park is a beautiful area of the Scottish Highlands centred on the popular winter resort of Aviemore. Cairngorms National Park: Winter wonderland - See 222 traveller reviews, 433 candid photos, and great deals for Badenoch and Strathspey, UK, at Tripadvisor. In the winter there are good skiing facilities. Things to see and do in the Cairngorms National Park. Given the name, it probably comes as no surprise that these roads can get covered in snow and ice in the winter months which may temporarily close sections of the route or make it unsafe to drive, so do check the local weather forecast as well as the road conditions (the local radio and the Traffic Scotland website are two good places for road and traffic conditions) before setting out. Get your copy. Of course some of the downsides are the winter weather, limited daylight hours, and that most of the seasonal businesses in the park are closed during the winter months. Another is the Alvie Estate near Aviemore which offers a variety of fun family-friendly activities including archery, pony trekking, deer feeding, zip lining, estate tours, fishing, Segway tours, and camping. But there are plenty of other great places locally to stay. From our base in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, we may also make excursions in search of red deer and mountain hare – or simply to enjoy photographing the amazing Highland landscape. Local train services are operated by ScotRail or London North Eastern Railway, and you can check the local bus services and routes online (most are operated by Stagecoach). Cairngorms Collection. It was also located within a short drive from a grocery store and there was a hiking trail nearby. $47.42 per adult. If you don't see the confirmation e-mail, please check your spam folder. Although the Loch Garten Osprey Centre run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is not open during the winter months, you can still visit all the nature trails here. One option is a hike close to our accommodation, a favourite of the locals. Aviemore is right on the doorstep, offering good accommodation, food, rail and road links. So if most of the attractions you want to see are in the eastern part of the park, I’d look for places to stay there. Finally, one last snow sport option is dogsledding. During the day we saw red squirrels, red deer, a golden eagle, black grouse, red grouse, pheasants, and feral goats. As an example, one of our favorite towns in the Cairngorms is Carrbridge which is located on the western side of the park. All of the ski resorts have a variety of runs open to both skiers and snowboarders. ️ This time of year when the snow falls can turn an already beautiful landscape into something spectacular. Laurence was lucky as he had a perfect ski day but the resort was closed the following day due to high winds. For example the Uath Lochans near Kincraig offers two main forest hikes, an easier and more family-friendly 1.5 mile hike as well as a more difficult 2.5 mile hike. Cairngorms National Park: Winter wonderland - See 221 traveler reviews, 433 candid photos, and great deals for Aviemore and the Cairngorms, UK, at Tripadvisor. The Cairngorms National Park is known for being one of the top mountain biking spots in Scotland. They operate a few different bus tours that include stops or stays within the park which begin in either Edinburgh or Inverness. The Cairngorms National Park is home to 3 of Scotland’s 5 ski centres – … If you are looking for groomed trails and a more reliable place for cross-country skiing in Scotland, I’d head a bit west of the park to Clashindorrach Forest near Rhynie in Aberdeenshire. The steep corries of the mountains have hosted winter climbers eager to test their skill against the elements and many of Scotlands classic routes can be found here. Courses with Scot Mountain Holidays are delivered in the Cairngorms National Park and include accommodation at our home base of Fraoch Lodge. In the Cairngorms, you’ll find a number of accommodation options, and we’d highly recommend considering some of the charming B&Bs or country house hotels in the area. So it really depends of course but you are much more likely to experience rain in Scotland in the winter than snow It gets cold but not rarely does it get super cold. Things to see and do in the Cairngorms National Park. Mammal species include red deer and mountain hare, as well as the only herd of reindeer in the British Isles. Currently, the most popular attraction at the park is the polar bears. The Cairngorms is an easy day trip or weekend trip from many places in Scotland. Make the most of your daylight hours by planning ahead, checking winter opening hours, and booking any tours or activities in advance (as needed). Required fields are marked *, Notify me of replies to my comment (just replies to your comment, no other e-mails, we promise! January and February are the coldest months on record not only in the Cairngorms but in Britain, with -27.2 degrees Centigrade recorded in both 1895 and 1982 in Braemar. With over 60 activities taking place across the Cairngorms National Park there is something for everyone, from families to the more seasoned nature lover. Nothing stirred in the landscape, save a few car lights snaking their way up to the ski car park. The Cairngorms in Winter. The park offers the opportunity to enjoy a number of snow activities which include skiing, snowboarding, sledging, and even dogsledding. I haven’t made it to the Cairngorms yet, but it looks lovely. One of the most popular winter activities in the Cairngorms National Parks is skiing. Our friends Annie Le (@a_girl_outside) and Huw Oliver set out from their home for a snowy overnighter in Scotland’s beautiful Cairngorms National Park for their Good Night 2020 Campout.Along the way, Annie made this video to bring us along for the ride, complete with time-lapse footage and loads of beautiful winter scenery from the Cairngorms. If there is a specific distillery tour or tasting you really want to do, I’d book it in advance if possible as some can be very popular. Cairngorms National Park - Local lunch & whisky tasting. Cairngorms Collection. Check out this page for both road cycle and mountain biking routes within the park. If you are flying into Scotland, Inverness Airport and Aberdeen Airport are the nearest airports to the Cairngorms, although you’ll be able to find bus and/or train connections from any airport in Scotland. Scotland is laden with loveable lochs, dreamy mountaintops and verdant countryside, ideal for experiencing in the winter months. To make the most of a trip to the Cairngorms National Park, we would definitely recommend spending at least a night or two to see the highlights of this area. I hope you have a wonderful time at the Cairngorms Happy travels, Jessica. So I did a winter mountaineering course in the Cairngorms, run by the Jonath an Conville Memorial Trust, established by Jonathan’s family after he died on the Matterhorn in 1979, aged 27. Hello, Winter is a great time to practice your photography. If so, do you have any places you’d add to this list? In the Cairngorms, you’ll find a number of accommodation options in the park including cozy bed-and-breakfasts, hotels and inns, hostels, and campsites (wild camping is also an option for those with tents and camping gear). Our friends Annie Le (@a_girl_outside) and Huw Oliver set out from their home for a snowy overnighter in Scotland’s beautiful Cairngorms National Park for their Good Night 2020 Campout.Along the way, Annie made this video to bring us along for the ride, complete with time-lapse footage and loads of beautiful winter scenery from the Cairngorms. Our largest national park is home to 25 per cent of the UK’s threatened species – but the combination of high latitude and altitude makes it a challenging place to overwinter. 5,637 Followers, 148 Following, 382 Posts - See Instagram photos and videos from Cairngorms National Park (@cairngormsnationalpark) Three of Scotland’s five ski centres are located within the Park –. The park has a large upland plateau, and is categorised as a “protected landscape” which allows for limited development within its borders. I plan to visit in December from India so this will come in very useful to us! The Cairngorms National Park offers a mix of landscapes which include mountains, lochs, farmland, ancient forests, and moorland. mountain hare (lepus timidus) running through snow. Perhaps Cairngorm National Park’s easiest (and loveliest) short walk, Lochan Uaine, the Green Lochan, is a magical treat for any rambler. The Snow Roads are meant to be a scenic route and are a “slow route”, a route that is good for scenic touring but not the best route if you need to quickly get from Point A to Point B. Britain's largest National Park, the Cairngorms are the most extensive range of high mountains in the UK, with a vast, tundra-like wilderness plateau, girt with magnificent corries, at the heart of the region. The pull of the mountains white with snow means that winter sports have always played a big part of life in the Cairngorms. We rented a sledge from the Glenmore Ski Shop and went sledding at the nearby Hayfield hill (a popular local hill for sledging after it snows). Small patches of snow may remain in the corries from the previous winter with the promise of new snowfall at any time. Within the UK, the park can be reached by car, regular train (check ScotRail and London North Eastern Railway for service), overnight sleeper train (check the Caledonian Sleeper route and schedule), or bus (check National Express for services). Britain's largest National Park, the Cairngorms are the most extensive range of high mountains in the UK, with a vast, tundra-like wilderness plateau, girt … Hi Lexx, Yes, loads to do in the Cairngorms year-round. Aviemore, the largest town in the park, is located approximately 30 miles from Inverness, 90 miles from Aberdeen, 130 miles Edinburgh, and 145 miles from Glasgow. The guides are not only familiar with the area and the local species, but they share daily updates with each other about the best places to spot different birds and animals. I think Spring is the “prime” time here for many birdwatchers. Bikes, including road bikes, mountain bikes, and electric bikes, can be rented within the park. The park is a mixture of small towns (there are no large towns or cities within the park) and rural areas so it is easy to find a peaceful spot. Cairngorms National Park entrance sign in winter, largest national park in the British Isles at Badenoch and Strathspey in the Highlands of Scotland. Your one-stop guide to skiing and snowboarding in the Cairngorms National Park. Part of the park you explore by walking through it like a traditional zoo, but the rest of the park is a drive through experience where you drive your own car through pastures that have a number of hooved mammals, including red deer, European bison, takin, elk, and Przewalski’s horses. As always, feel free to ask us any questions you may have about things to do in the Cairngorms or anywhere else in Scotland! If you are a fan of the cold, powdery white stuff then Scotland is a great place to be in winter. The Cairngorms National Park is home to three ski resorts: CairnGorm Mountain near Aviemore, Lecht near Tomintoul, and Glenshee near Braemar. The three ski centres in the National Park cater for all levels of skill and discipline whether its downhill, telemark or snow board. Live from the snowy Cairngorms. If your travels are taking you to other destinations in Scotland, we have loads of posts on Scotland across our two travel blogs and you can find them all here and here. Here you will find everything from ancient fortresses and distilleries to some of the UK best attractions and museums. Rental cars are easy to hire at any of the main airports in Scotland. All of the ski resorts have a variety of runs open to both skiers and snowboarders. Cairngorm National Park is one of the most prominent hubs for winter sports in the UK. ️ This time of year when the snow falls can turn an already beautiful landscape into something spectacular. The Cairngorm National Park in autumn is a period of transition. Our three nights of lodging were provided by Seasgair Lodges. A very popular animal attraction is the RZSS Highland Wildlife Park near Kincraig, which has both exotic and native wildlife species. Amazing scenery and worth the three hours it took driving right down through Braemar and Balmoral. I found this blog very useful and interesting and it provides a lot of useful information about visiting the Cairngorms National Park. You can explore mountain passes on former old drove roads such as the Lairig Ghru and Lairig an Laoigh trails. And there is no better place for those who love nothing more than getting in and about snow than the Cairngorms National Park, easily the largest national park in the UK. But it’s not all just birds, there are also a number of other wildlife species, including roe deer, red deer, pine martens, badgers, mountain hare, rabbits, red squirrels, Scottish wildcats, otters, and feral goats. There are also a few other year-round family-oriented attractions in the Cairngorms. If there is snow and/or ice along the trails you intend to hike, you’ll also want to bring along an ice axe and crampons. Although some of the family attractions close in the winter months, families will still find a number of places to enjoy. Winter in Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. 14 reviews. However, if you want to get a close up look the Highland Wildlife Park currently has several Scottish wildcats and two pairs of capercaillie. Wow I didn’t realise just how much there is to do in the Cairngorms! ... Glenfeshie, in the Cairngorms National Park. A pair of mute swans on Loch Insh, Cairngorms National Park, December. Listen to the first series of our podcast! Kinrara Distillery is a highland micro distillery in the heart of Cairngorm National Park, distilling small batch hand crafted premium spirits using locally foraged and sourced botanicals. Aviemore Information Centre. Day 4: Cairngorms National Park Today brings a quintessential Scottish experience – discovering just one of the region’s famed lochs. It offers a 25-minute trek on an excellent track to the crystal clear waters of Lochan surrounded. Learn how this will shape the future of the Cairngorms National Park. Snow often arrives in … These include things like ruined castles (e.g., Drumin Castle), art trails (e.g., Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail), Pictish ring forts, clan history centers, and old parish churches. So it is best to think about dining options at least a couple of hours in advance, especially for dinner. ️ It's a Cairngorms Winter Wonderland! The Cairngorm Sleddog Centre offers the opportunity to learn about and participate in dogsledding year-round, but winter is best as you can get to do it in the snow. Hiking and climbing is more challenging in the winter months, and those planning to do longer hill walks or climbs should be prepared with proper hiking and safety gear, local Ordnance Survey maps, a compass, and any needed extra winter gear (e.g., ice axe, crampons, emergency blanket). It also contains some of the cleanest rivers and lochs in Europe - perfect for some chilly swimming! The UK’s Largest National Park and Beyond. We wish everyone could be enjoying the National Park right now, but we must remain home, stay local, and wait until we are in a better place nationally to welcome you all back again. The Cairngorms National Park is the largest National Park in the UK and it is home to four of the five highest mountains in the UK. The Nature, Scenery & Landscape episode comes to you from the beautiful mountains, valleys and glens of the Cairngorms National Park. Discover the wildlife of the Cairngorms National Park during winter The Cairngorms National Park is Britain's largest national park, home to a huge variety of wildlife. But there are a number of other species at the park including red panda, snow monkeys, amur tigers, camels, owls, wolverines, and deer. For instance, this map covers the Aviemore & Cairn Gorm Mountain area whereas this one covers the Glen Shee and Braemar area. Scotland ’ s experience skiing at CairnGorm mountain near Aviemore, Lecht Tomintoul. 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