The Cairngorms is home to over 50 munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet) so it is a great place for hillwalkers, munro baggers, and climbers. We covered all our other expenses ourselves, including food and transport. These include Dalwhinnie, Glenlivet, Tomintoul, Speyside, Royal Lochnagar, and Tomatin (located just north of the park boundary). Hi Seana, Yes, the Cairngorms is a great place for wildlife, especially for birds in Scotland! I’m surprised to see so little snow on the ground though. A new polar bear cub, Hamish, was born in December 2017 here which has attracted a lot of visitors. Many people don’t associate skiing with the UK, but you can indeed ski in several places in Scotland during the winter! Loch Lee, Angus, Scotland. More info. Although the Cairngorms give their name to, and are at the heart of, the Cairngorms National Park, they only form … Join the Pros - Wildlife - Winter in the Cairngorms. I found this blog very useful and interesting and it provides a lot of useful information about visiting the Cairngorms National Park. One of the most popular family attractions in the Cairngorms is Landmark Forest Adventure Park in Carrbridge. So there is our list of things to do in the Cairngorms National Park in winter! If you have a question about an upcoming trip to Scotland, just leave us your question in the comments section at the end of the post and we will happily try to help. Winter also means that sunrise is not too early and sunset is not very late, so easy to capture both in one day without sacrificing any sleep! Winter can also make it easier to see certain types of wildlife that stand out more clearly against the white backdrop and barren trees. Car Parks in the Cairngorms National Park, Public Toilets in the Cairngorms National Park, Priority 1: Supporting Landscape Scale Collaboration, Priority 4: Visitor Infrastructure And Information, Priority 8: Community Capacity And Empowerment, Toolkit: Gaelic as an Economic Asset in the Cairngorms, Creating a Gaelic Experience with the Five Senses, Coronavirus/COVID-19 National Park Latest Information, Viewing and Making Comments on Applications, Main Issues Report – Consultation Responses, Post Main Issues Report – New Sites Consultation. We did hikes within the Craigellachie National Nature Reserve near Aviemore, to Loch an Eilein at Rothiemurchus (a good picnic spot, note there is a small parking fee), around Abernethy Forest near Nethy Bridge (this trail was just outside of our cottage), a couple of the local riverside and forest village paths around Carrbridge, and a hike in Allean Forest (just south of the park). They never write! Finally, there is the Wildcat Experience in Newtonmore where families can go in search of over 100 painted wildcat models hidden all over the village. There are a number of small towns and villages located within the park that are worth taking the time to explore. This is located in the northeast of Scotland. If you are thinking about skiing elsewhere, you can check out this full breakdown of all the ski resorts in Scotland. The peak in the background is Creag an Leth-choin, which translates as Lurcher’s Crag. Cairngorms National Park looks like a winter paradise. The Cairngorms National Park is the largest National Park in the UK and it is home to four of the five highest mountains in the UK. Unfortunately the steam train does not operate on any normal schedule during most of the winter and does not run every day. Also send me the latest blog posts by e-mail, Independent Travel Cats Monthly Newsletter, Logos, images, and content all protected by copyright. Listen to the first series of our podcast! A sparkling gem of the Scottish Highlands, this is a haven for wildlife. Given the name, it probably comes as no surprise that these roads can get covered in snow and ice in the winter months which may temporarily close sections of the route or make it unsafe to drive, so do check the local weather forecast as well as the road conditions (the local radio and the Traffic Scotland website are two good places for road and traffic conditions) before setting out. We’ll share how to get to the Cairngorms National Park, how to get around the Cairngorms, where to stay, winter visiting tips, and where to find further resources on planning your trip. The park offers the opportunity to enjoy a number of snow activities which include skiing, snowboarding, sledging, and even dogsledding. I live in the awesome Cairngorms National Park, in the Scottish Highlands. Aviemore is right on the doorstep, offering good accommodation, food, rail and road links. Part of the park you explore by walking through it like a traditional zoo, but the rest of the park is a drive through experience where you drive your own car through pastures that have a number of hooved mammals, including red deer, European bison, takin, elk, and Przewalski’s horses. Before heading to any of the ski resorts in the Cairngorms, be sure to check the weather and snow forecasts first, as high winds, lack of snow, severe weather, or avalanches can cause ski resorts to temporarily close during the winter. © 2021 Cairngorms National Park Authority. In the Cairngorms, you’ll find a number of accommodation options in the park including cozy bed-and-breakfasts, hotels and inns, hostels, and campsites (wild camping is also an option for those with tents and camping gear). Bikes, including road bikes, mountain bikes, and electric bikes, can be rented within the park. Towering mountains, sparkling lochs and dense forests surround the bustling town of Aviemore. Visiting the Cairngorms in the winter can be a great time to visit the park as it a less busy and more peaceful time of the year, there is the opportunity to go skiing and enjoy other snow sports, and there are scenic winter landscapes to admire. Spey River in Winter (c) Mark Hamblin/2020 Vision. The train route runs through the Cairngorms National Park, making stops in several towns within the Cairngorms, including Aviemore, Carrbridge, and Dalwhinnie. Winter can be a wonderful time of year to visit the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland as there are scenic winter landscapes, fewer people, and the opportunity to enjoy winter sports. An 11 mile hike combines these two popular munros, and ski touring is a good way to explore these two mountains during the winter if there is a good snow covering. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter. So I’ve interviewed a raft of them with expertise in a range of areas: parenting, adventure, photography, exercise, whisky, psychology, hypnotherapy, astronomy. One of the better known courses is the scenic Boat of Garten Golf Club which was designed by James Braid. The Snow Roads also go past two of the three ski resorts in the park, Glenshee and Lecht. However, there are some ruined castles and forts you can see while hiking (like Drumin Castle) and you can view some castles like Braemar Castle from the road at a distance. Britain's largest National Park, the Cairngorms are the most extensive range of high mountains in the UK, with a vast, tundra-like wilderness plateau, girt with magnificent corries, at the heart of the region. The Cairngorm National Park in autumn is a period of transition. However, if you want to get a close up look the Highland Wildlife Park currently has several Scottish wildcats and two pairs of capercaillie. The Cairngorms National Park is the perfect location to find wildlife and photograph birds and mammals in the winter months with easy access. You might also consider renting a cottage, holiday home, or booking an apartment so that you can prepare you own meals and have more solitude. All Rights Reserved. Where to Stay in the Cairngorms National Park in Winter? As mentioned earlier, we recommend making sure you have basic safety and emergency gear in your car and we recommend traveling with a set of snow chains during the winter months just in case they are needed. The courses offer a range of challenges and most come with scenic views of mountains, lochs, and/or rivers. Here you will find everything from ancient fortresses and distilleries to some of the UK best attractions and museums. Wildlife is also good year-round and in fact winter can be easier because of the snow and they go further in search of food. On the training course, will get to develop your winter skills and learn new techniques. Speyside Wildlife offers day guiding as well as evening spotting opportunities. Mammal species include red deer and mountain hare, as well as the only herd of reindeer in the British Isles. If you are a fan of the cold, powdery white stuff then Scotland is a great place to be in winter. Dining options can be limited in certain areas of the park as some cafes and restaurants close during the winter months or have more limited winter hours. It is a mountain of contrast. The Cairngorm mountains provide a unique alpine semi-tundra moorland habitat, home to many rare plants, birds and animals. It truly is something that all cultures share, though in different forms. In addition to offering beautiful scenery, the route also links together a series of natural, cultural, and historic attractions. Families are likely to find plenty of things to do among the already mentioned options whether it be snow sports, hiking, or enjoying learning about the local wildlife, but there are also a number of attractions in the Cairngorms that are designed specifically for children and families. If there is snow and/or ice along the trails you intend to hike, you’ll also want to bring along an ice axe and crampons. Winter is a great time to practice your photography. But you can find scenic spots and lovely views of the mountains and lochs from so many spots! Hi Anisa, Oh yes, you should definitely visit on your next trip. Once in the area, we also recommend stopping at local visitor centers which are located in several towns throughout the area to pick up brochures and maps, as well as ask about local sites and events. In addition to scenery, most train journeys include a meal, afternoon tea, or whisky tasting. Scotland is laden with loveable lochs, dreamy mountaintops and verdant countryside, ideal for experiencing in the winter months. cairngorms national park winter; cairngorms national park illustrations . Cross-country skiing, or Nordic skiing, is another option. Carrbridge is best known for its old packhorse bridge dating back to 1717 which is the oldest stone bridge in the Scottish Highlands. Enjoy a picturesque hike around a local loch off the tourist trail, complete with mountains framing the banks, pristine strands of ancient Caledonian Pine forest and a ruined castle sitting on a tiny island in its centre. But if you prefer to be on the eastern part of the park, you might search for lodging around Ballater or Braemar. by Chris Townsend on January 20, 2009 Photo Essays. These include things like ruined castles (e.g., Drumin Castle), art trails (e.g., Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail), Pictish ring forts, clan history centers, and old parish churches. As an example, one of our favorite towns in the Cairngorms is Carrbridge which is located on the western side of the park. Jessica, Your email address will not be published. I must go. And plenty of ways to have some quality downtime like the distilleries too! Aviemore is the active outdoor area of the Cairngorms National Park with activities suitable for all ages and abilities. If you are looking for groomed trails and a more reliable place for cross-country skiing in Scotland, I’d head a bit west of the park to Clashindorrach Forest near Rhynie in Aberdeenshire. There are loads of things to do in the Cairngorms National Park in winter! The Cairngorms National Park is a beautiful area of the Scottish Highlands centred on the popular winter resort of Aviemore. Accommodation in the Cairngorms. Those looking for guidance on hikes within the Cairngorms should check out the WalkHighlands website and consider a local hiking guidebook such as this one. If you are planning to also drive the North Coast 500 while in Scotland, the Snow Roads are a great scenic route to take if you are traveling between Edinburgh and Inverness. Many of the courses here date back to the 19th century and most of them are open year-round. Winter weather in the Scottish Highlands is famously fickle and, at times, ferocious. Cairngorms National Park: Winter wonderland - See 221 traveler reviews, 433 candid photos, and great deals for Aviemore and the Cairngorms, UK, at Tripadvisor. Most have cafés, public toilets, shops, and galleries you can visit. In the winter there are good skiing facilities. For more experienced skiers, there is also backcountry skiing or ski touring which is done off-piste and outside of the ski resorts. They now roam the high Cairngorms, after being re-introduced in 1952 by a Swedish herdsman. Of course some of the downsides are the winter weather, limited daylight hours, and that most of the seasonal businesses in the park are closed during the winter months. Aviemore and Braemar are lively hubs for skiing where you can hire all that you need and relax after a hard day on the slopes. I am always amazed by the way people express themselves through art. This 3 day tour from Edinburgh follows the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail and spends 2 nights within the Cairngorms National Park. They also run special holiday train services for Christmas and New Years. Amazing scenery and worth the three hours it took driving right down through Braemar and Balmoral. There are loads of local walking and hiking trails and most villages will have some info on local trails. Impressed that you went in the winter – all I want to do in the winter is go and hike somewhere warm! We’ll also provide tips and advice for helping you make the most of your visit based on our own visits to the Cairngorms National Park in winter. For example the Uath Lochans near Kincraig offers two main forest hikes, an easier and more family-friendly 1.5 mile hike as well as a more difficult 2.5 mile hike. At 1,467 square miles, it is Britain’s largest National Park and located within the heart of the Scottish Highlands. But there are plenty of other great places locally to stay. Laurence and I did both a day guided trip with Speyside Wildlife and then an evening watch from their wildlife hide. Have you visited the Cairngorms? Check out this page for a full list of golf courses located within the Cairngorms National Park. We shall spend a day in the Cairngorms National Park for Snow Bunting, Ptarmigan and Mountain Hare in their winter white; head up a Highland Glen looking for Golden and White-tailed Eagle and with luck manage close views of Red Deer. 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