For those with an appetite for the great outdoors, winter offers some incredible opportunities to develop new skills and put them to the test, or try fun activities that you simply can’t do at other times of the year.
Prepare to say ‘mush!’ as you enjoy the exhilarating experience of a sled dog safari. Ride with a team of energetic huskies through thick forests and wild backcountry near Aviemore on a trip with the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre.
When blankets of deep snow cover the ground, it’s time to strap on some snowshoes and try hiking with a difference! You could spend an afternoon snowshoeing in the Trossachs with an outdoor activity provider, taking in breathtaking views of snowdrift-covered countryside.
The hardiest of outdoor enthusiasts will love the thrilling challenge of winter climbing – why not get started at the Ice Factory in Kinlochleven, near Glencoe, home to a 40 ft ice wall? This part of the Highlands is defined by impressive mountain ranges, meaning that you can head out with an experienced guide to scale steep slopes and rocky crags.
For a mountain exploration unlike any other, book yourself on a snow holing and winter walking expedition. Venture into the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park, help to dig a communal snow hole and snuggle down for a night in a winter wilderness!
Winter activities aren’t confined to hillsides and mountain peaks. For some fun on the ice, try a curling taster session. Did you know that the sport was invented in Scotland? It’s a fun winter pastime which you can try at a number of ice rinks across Scotland. Sometimes, when temperatures plunge to freezing point, it can be played on frozen curling ponds.
Did you know that Scotland has five mountain ski centres? With so many mountain ranges, it’s no surprise that Scotland offers the best outdoor skiing and snowboarding in the UK.
In the Highlands, snowsports can be enjoyed at the mountain resorts at Glencoe and Nevis Range, both in Lochaber, and at CairnGorm Mountain, near Aviemore. Glenshee and the Lecht ski centres can be found in the west of Aberdeenshire.
Whether you are seasoned on the slopes or fancy trying skiing or snowboarding for the first time, the ski centres offer a range of runs to suit varying levels of experience. For those new to snowsports, get some lessons from expert tutors at one of the ski schools. Once you’ve got the basics, it’s time to hit the beginner’s slopes!
Experienced skiers and snowboarders will find Scotland’s ski runs both challenging and rewarding, from the long pistes of Glas Maol at Glenshee, best attempted after a fresh snowfall, to the terrain and skills parks of CairnGorm Mountain, perfect for working on technical tricks.
After a busy day on the slopes, you can enjoy the après-ski with a distinctive Scottish twist; is there a better way to warm up than with a fine malt whisky enjoyed by an open log fire?
There is nothing quite like being out in the countryside on a bracing winter day. Feel your cheeks tingle, see your breathe lingering on the cold air, enjoy the gratifying crunch of the frozen ground underfoot – and then there’s the pleasure of the walk itself!
Wander through snow-covered forest tracks where the branches of pine and oak trees are dusted with snow. Both Loch an Eilein, surrounded by towering conifers on a walk around Rothiemurchus Forest in the Cairngorms National Park, and the enchanting woodland realm of Puck’s Glen, in Argyll Forest Park on the Cowal Peninsula, offer spectacular walking trails.
In the colder months, Scotland’s mountains are capped with snow and look utterly majestic. Enjoy the sight of Ben Lawers’ white peaks as you follow the gentle nature trail in Perthshire. At Loch Lomond, you could stride up Conic Hill and admire breathtaking views towards Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps – a glorious walk on a bright, clear day.
As the daylight hours get shorter, the nights get longer and darker which means one thing – more opportunities for stargazing! Scotland really is one of the best places to take in the wonders of the night sky.
A night out identifying stars and planets is perfect for an unusual romantic date, or a memorable family outing with the kids. Pack a flask of hot chocolate, plenty of warm clothes and a cosy picnic blanket and take in the magic of the cosmos.
Scotland is home to the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in the south west of the country, as well as a number of other sites with special Dark Sky status. In Galloway Forest Park, over 7,000 shining stars and planets are visible to the naked eye.
You could also book a session at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory and admire the intricacies of the solar system with the aid of powerful telescopes.
Parts of the Isle of Skye and other remote areas in the north west Highlands also offer wonderful opportunities for spotting constellations, thanks to low light pollution.
There’s even an official Dark Sky Island – the Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides has no street lights – the closest lamppost is over 20 miles away on the Isle of Mull!
For further information see visitscotland.com