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Winter Cairngorms

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Have you ever been tempted to explore the mountains when they're under a beautiful blanket of snow?

£445pp
  • Duration

    4 Nights
  • Accommodation

    Hostel
  • Food

    Some provided. Details below
  • Difficulty Levels

    Multiple walk options available See itinerary below
    for more details

Have you ever been tempted to explore the mountains when they’re under a beautiful blanket of snow? The Cairngorms are one of Scotland’s wildest and most beautiful mountain ranges, located in the drier Eastern Highlands and known for their vast open spaces and challenging mountain ascents. Being able to walk in the mountains in winter is the dream of many summer hillwalkers, and during these few days we’ll introduce you to the skills that you’ll need, as well as heading out on several brilliant guided walks.

Cairngorms Winter Walking Trip, perfect for people who have never experienced the joy of winter walking

Staying in a comfy hostel in the heart of the Cairngorms, we’ll also be able to explore the local area, admiring the vast forest of Rothiemurchus, looking for wildlife, and sampling the best local food.

No previous experience of winter walking is required to take part in this trip, we will have a qualified winter mountain leader with you to show you how to use crampons, ice axes etc. You should have a reasonable level of fitness to take part in this trip. 

In a nutshell:

  • Learn the skills you need to walk in the mountains in winter, heading out on a training day followed by three days of guided walks with a qualified leader.
  • Discover the Cairngorms, Scotland’s highest mountain range and one of Britain’s wildest places.
  • Enjoy freshly prepared food, and take time to admire the fantastic scenery with a friendly group of walkers all keen to explore the outdoors.
  • Equipment hire is available if you have not got your own kit, and you’ll learn all about winter boots, crampons and ice axes!

About the location

The Cairngorms

The Cairngorms lie in the eastern highlands of Scotland, accessible from Aberdeen and Inverness and containing the highest continuous land in Britain. Ben MacDui is the second highest mountain in the country, and alongside the mountains are countless lakes, rivers, forested valleys and remote settlements. As well as the high peaks, there are a huge number of shorter walks, and easier summits.

The Cairngorms National Park covers all the central mountains and extends a long way around them to cover the hills of Lochnagar, over to the Drummochter Pass, and north to the Monadhliath Mountains. The central Cairngorm plateau, where the main peaks reside, is a giant dome of granite, making it popular with climbers, while the height and climate actually make the Cairngorms an Arctic ecosystem, playing host to a unique ecology of plants and animals.

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Itinerary

Day 1

Arriving at our hostel in the heart of Scotland, you’ll be welcomed by your Large Outdoors host and meet your fellow walkers. We’ll have dinner together at around 8pm, and then discuss plans for the next few days over the obligatory cheese-board. There will doubtless be the chance to try some local ales, or perhaps a whisky or two!

Cairngorms Winter Walking Trip, perfect for people who have never experienced the joy of winter walking

Day 2

This is our training day, and after breakfast we’ll start by collecting our hire kit, including winter boots, crampons and ice axes. The aim is to go for a walk on a nearby mountain covering a whole set of skills to do with walking on snow and ice, use of crampons and the ice axe, staying safe in the winter mountains, and environmental issues. It’s a great chance to learn something new!

We’ll be out all day, and in the evening we’ll head back to the hostel for dinner, with further conversation about the day’s skills.

Cairngorms Winter Walking Trip, perfect for people who have never experienced the joy of winter walking

Days 3 and 4

These days are our chance to explore the Cairngorms, using the skills we’ve been learning to walk safely in the winter environment. We’ll begin with a sit down breakfast at 8am and then, after a chance to make packed lunches, head out for the day. There are a huge number of walking opportunities, and the route we choose will depend on the weather, and whether we’ve managed to cover all the skills on Day 2.

Possible options include:

  • Cairngorm and the northern coires
    3

    One of the classic walks in the Cairngorms, we’ll start from the high car park in the ski centre and head up onto the main Cairngorm plateau. This vast undulating plain is the roof of Britain, and stretches for miles above the forest of Rothiemurchus. We’ll take a walk over the plateau and then finish by summiting Cairngorm itself, Britain’s 5th highest mountain. The descent takes us past the Ptarmigan café, and we’ll head back down with views all the way to Aviemore and the distant Monadhliath mountains, all cloaked in white.

    Cairngorms Winter Walking Trip, perfect for people who have never experienced the joy of winter walking

  • Lurcher's Crag
    3

    The summit of a wide ridge and sticking out of the northern wall of the Cairngorms, Lurcher’s Crag is a fine peak, with excellent views all the way to Aviemore, and down into the great valley of the Lairig Ghru. Separated from the main plateau, Lurcher’s Crag is the perfect place to look over the western mountains of the Cairngorms, and has easy slopes to practise our new-found winter skills.

  • Meall a' Bhuachaille
    3

    Standing between the forests of Rothiemurchus and Aberfeldy, Meall a’ Bhuachaille is one of the classic lower peaks of this part of the Highlands. It’s a great objective, allowing us to walk through the forest on the way there and get excellent views of the Northern Coires from the top. It’s a good option on a bad weather day or if the snow is deep. Lying at the edge of a long ridge, we can make this journey an extended walk if we want, or head back down into the forest.

  • Sgor Gaoith and Glen Feshie
    3

    On the western edge of the Cairngorms, Sgor Gaoith stands above the wild valley of Glen Feshie, where the river changes its course regularly and whose slopes are covered in ancient forest. The trail up to the peak leads past dramatic gullies and valleys, and the main summit stands above Loch Eanaich. We can spend some time walking along the wide ridge to the subsidiary peaks of this mountain, admiring the snowy plateau to the south. Dropping back down to Glen Feshie, we’ll have a further chance to admire the valley before heading back.

Late afternoon onwards

On each day we’ll all have a chance to shower and change before either heading out into the town for dinner or staying in the hostel for some food freshly prepared by the Large Outdoors team. Each day’s walk will present an opportunity to further practice a variety of winter skills, and we’ll review what we’ve done each evening, allowing you the chance to identify where you need more experience. This can be done alongside a pint or a glass of wine of course, so it’s not all work!

Day 5

On this final day it’s time to pack up and leave the hostel, heading out after breakfast to go for one final few hours’ walk. There are quite a few options, but we’ll most probably do a consolidation of skills on the slopes of Cairngorm, finding views down into the long valley of Strath Nethy and taking a last look at this great snowy wilderness.

Midday onwards

After returning our hired kit, we’ll head out for a final celebratory lunch at around 1pm, and then begin the journey back, either dropping you at a local train station or taking you back to Glasgow.

Winter Equipment:

For this trip you will either need to supply your own winter walking boots, ice axe and crampons or if you have not got your own then you can easily hire them in Aviemore. If you do need to hire these then please contact the Large Outdoors office.

Who will be looking after you...

Alex
Alex Kendall
Operations Director

Our Base:

We’ll be staying in an hostel in the heart of the Cairngorms, near the town of Aviemore. The town has a good selection of shops, pubs and cafés and there will be plenty of opportunities to experience the local culture. We’ll be able to relax in the lounge in the evenings and as usual there will be endless hot drinks.

Beds are allocated on a single-sex shared room basis. Bedding is provided but please bring your own towel or you can hire them from the hostel.

Food Provided:

For this trip we provide the following meals: Breakfasts, and a packed lunch for each day walk. Each evening we will head out to a local pub or restaurant.

As well as meals, we also provide a variety of complimentary soft drinks and beverages – tea & coffee which includes herbal, fruit and decaffeinated options and fruit squashes. We do not supply alcohol but you are welcome to bring your own.

 

  • Free Airport Pick Up
    Airport Pickup: Inverness
    Time: 2pm

    For this trip we are offering a free collection from Inverness Airport on the first day, returning you there for early evening on the last day.

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Aviemore
Cairngorms
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What our members have to say...

  • I have attended Large Outdoors weekends for the last two years , achieving many challenges in the British countryside. Every weekend has been very well organised, in beautiful locations, wonderful walks, nutritious food with lovely people.
    I have learned new skills and gained confidence in the outdoors from the mountain leaders. I thoroughly enjoy every weekend and always look forward to the next.
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    Elizabeth Brooks
    Member Since 2014
  • I have been joining Large Outdoors on their outdoor adventures for many years now. I wasn’t always an active person and as a self-confessed city dweller I never thought I would appreciate so much of what is on offer when you leave the suburbs behind you. Large Outdoors has not only made me appreciate what natural beauty is on our door step, it has also given me the confidence to challenge myself and see things differently.
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    Shad Everett
    Member since 2009
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the experience from beginning to end. The host Kendra was very welcoming upon arrival at the youth hostel, all walkers and climbers were friendly and we got on great as a group. The home cooked food was amazing and the idea of 'kitchen angels' worked really well. The rock climbing instructor and his son were brilliant and helped us all, providing constant guidance and encouragement.
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    Penny Grainger
    Member Since 2016
  • Since my first Large Outdoors weekend I have rediscovered my love for the countryside, met so many great people and had a whole lot of fun. I've sailed around the Inner Hebrides on a luxurious yacht, climbed the 3 national peaks Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafel Pike, danced my socks off at the Halloween and New Year celebrations and fallen in love with the beautiful Isle of Skye. Every trip has been amazing fun and I have met so many lovely people and made friends for life. Cheers Large Outdoors!
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    Karen Roberts
    Member Since 2012
  • I love the concept of the Large Outdoors weekends and I like to have at least one or two booked for the future, to have something to look forward to. A weekend trip finds me visiting some fabulous parts of the country: Northumberland, Dorset, Brecon Beacons, Lake District, North York Moors... hills, mountains, moors and coast - all well covered by the amazing choice of locations to pick from, with decent (or lovely!) accommodation, great food and qualified walk leaders. They're also very good value.
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