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Winter Walking in the Cairngorms

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

£445pp
Book your experience
Available dates:
  • 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.

Guided winter walking week to the Cairngorms in Scotland

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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.

 

  • Good to know:

    A few answers to our most common questions and a few tips to help you enjoy your time in the Cairngorms.

    • You will need to have suitable winter gear including warm clothing, ice axes and crampons, these can be hired locally if you don’t wish to purchase. We would suggest if this is your first time you hire so you can try different gear etc.
    • View our suggested winter walking kit list here…
    • This venue supplies bedding but you will need a towel.
    • You are welcome to bring your own alcohol to drink on this trip.
    • We will be eating out each evening and this is not included.

    Foods and Drinks:

    Drinks – We will have a selection of teas, coffees, herbal teas and fruit squash for you to enjoy on this trip.

    Breakfasts – Our standard breakfast is a selection of cereals, yoghurts, fruit and toast.

    Packed Lunches – We supply sandwiches, fruit, cereal bars / biscuits and crisps. However, we do not supply any drinks so please ensure you have a water bottle with you.

    Evening meals – Are not included on this trip, we will be heading out to local pubs.

    Vegetarian or Vegan:

    We will always supply a vegetarian of vegan meal, however due to the remote locations of our venues these must be booked in advance. Simply complete the dietary section during the booking process or if your dietary needs have changed email the office and we will update your records.

    We are unable to offer Halal or Kosher meals but will be happy to supply a vegetarian alternative, please ensure you request this when booking.

    Allergies, Intolerances & Gluten Free.

    Please ensure you list any allergies and intolerances clearly during the booking process, with notice we are able to offer gluten free meals and can accommodate most allergies. However, please note that due to the shared nature of the kitchens we cannot eliminate the possibility of cross contamination. If you have any questions then please contact the office.

    Age restrictions:

    This trip is open to anyone over 18 years of age and there is no upper age limit.

    Are Dogs allowed:

    I am afraid dogs are not allowed on this trip, unless they are registered assistance dogs.

  • What’s Included / Not Included:

    Included:

    • 4 nights hostel accommodation.
    • 3 days of guided winter walking.
    • Qualified Winter Mountain Leader with you at all times.
    • Chance to learn some basic winter walking skills but please note this is not a skills course, our aim is to get out and enjoy the winter.
    • Breakfasts and packed lunches.
    • Optional free travel from Glasgow or collection from Aviemore Train station (see below).
    • Travel during the trip.

    Not Included:

    • Travel to and from the collection point.
    • Evening meals
    • Any alcohol
    • Personal waling equipment and clothing
    • Travel Insurance
  • Traveling to our Cairngorms Winter Walking Trip:

    Travelling by car:

    If traveling by car there is ample free parking at the hostel.

    Free collection from Glasgow Airport or Aviemore Train Station.

    On the first day we will collect you at the following times: 

    Glasgow Airport: 11:00am

    Glasgow Central Station 11:30am

    Aviemore Train: Station: 4pm

    Flying to Inverness:

    You can then either get the direct bus or train from Inverness to Aviemore and meet at the train station.

    Final Day Drop off times:

    Aviemore Train Station: 2pm

    Glasgow Central Station: 6:00pm

    Glasgow Airport: 6:30pm

  • Tickets, room types and deposits:

    Shared Room

    This is our standard ticket ideal for solo travellers, individuals and small groups of friends, we will place you in a suitable same sex room, sharing with others. This will vary on the venue and can be twin rooms up to dorm style rooms on our hostel based trips.

    If you make one booking for a group of people we will do our best to accommodate you all in one room. However, if you and your friends have made a series of separate bookings but wish to be together, simply email us with a group list.

    Private Rooms

    Whenever possible we will always offer any single or twin / double rooms as available. Please note single rooms are very popular and sell out quickly. Private twin rooms will have two single beds / bunk and a double room will have a double bed.

    Advanced Savers

    Just like booking a train, the earlier you book the less you pay. Please note that advanced saver tickets are non-refundable and are only available for shared room tickets. You are not able to pay a deposit as the full value is due on booking.

    Deposits:

    You can secure your place on this trip with a 50% deposit, the balance is then due no less than 12 weeks before you travel. Failure to pay your balance on time could result in you losing your deposit and place on this trip. If the trip is within 12 weeks then you will need to pay in full to secure your place.

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Aviemore
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