After being voted ‘The most beautiful country in the world’ by the Lonely planet and Rough Guides, Scotland has seen an influx in the number of tourists visiting its bonnie shores. Although Summer remains the most popular time to visit, there are many positive attributes to visiting in the Winter. With the snow-capped mountains, crisp, frosty mornings, Autumnal colours, stunning sunsets and quieter roads, Scotland in Winter is an Adventurers paradise. Here’s our guide to the best places to visit during the winter months:
Cairngorm National Park:
Known as the heart of the Highlands this natural park spans over 4528 km and is filled with rugged mountains, winding rivers, ancient woodland and an abundance of Scottish wildlife, and from November through to March the park turns into a Winter wonderland. You will find the British Isles only herd of Reindeer near the town of Aviemore as they come to the lower moorlands to graze ahead of a busy Christmas schedule! The Park is ideal for adrenaline junkies with Snowsports, rock climbing, Kayaking, white water rafting and mountain biking to name but a few of the activities on offer. If you’re looking to warm up after all those rigorous activities then why not head to one of the local distilleries to try a whisky or gin, it’ll warm you up in no time! For those who like the more relaxed side of life there are number of very good hotels which offer SPA treatments or, if you prefer, you could rent a luxury log cabin with your own jacuzzi looking over the mountainside, ahhhh bliss!
Glen Affric is a very picturesque estate which is rich in history and is situated 15 miles to the West of Loch Ness. Often claimed to be ‘the most beautiful glen in Scotland’ you can find remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forest, home to many different types of bird species making this a birdwatcher’s dream! Although Autumn compliments the Glen with its beautiful colours, it is definitely worth visiting at any time of the year. For dog lovers, you might be interested to know that the Golden retriever was first bred here, Guisachan the ancestral home of this adorable breed, plays host to an annual Golden Retriever reunion each summer. Not far from Guisachan you will find the impressive and thunderous Plodda falls, here you can take a scenic walk through the natural woodland.
Isle of Skye:
No trip to Scotland is complete without visiting this enchanting Island. As this small island is often bombarded with visitors in the Summer, the winter months are probably the best time to visit with the scenery remaining every bit as stunning. The island can be completed in one day although it is recommended taking a few days so you can take in every ounce of the breath-taking attractions. The Fairy pools, Old man of Storr, Fairy Glen and the Quirang are the most popular sites with each place making you feel like you’ve stepped into a magical land from a storybook!
Situated on the West Coast, this is an area of outstanding beauty with some of the most impressive looking mountains in the UK. Hill walkers will be in their element here with many a munro to choose from, although take great care when climbing these hills during the winter months as they will often be layered with snow. If you would rather admire the hills from ground level, then there are several easy walks with stunning views to choose from.
Of course, no trip to the Highlands would be complete without a visit to the worlds most famous Loch! Situated less than 10 miles from the Highland Capital of Inverness you will find this very impressive stretch of water, home to the infamous monster, Nessie. Framed by rolling hills, with the historic Urquhart Castle on its banks, these glistening waters have many a story to tell. Although there are many walks around the Loch , the best views are from the water. .
Hop on a Jacobite Cruise at Dochgarroch Lock or the Clansman Harbour and let your Loch Ness adventure begin!