Have you ever been tempted to explore the mountains when they're under a beautiful blanket of snow?
FoodSome provided. Details below
Difficulty LevelsMultiple walk options available See itinerary below
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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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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What our members have to say...
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.Penny GraingerMember Since 2016
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.Shad EverettMember since 2009
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.Elizabeth BrooksMember Since 2014
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!Karen RobertsMember 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.Sue LangfordMember since 2008