One of the most frequently asked questions for those joining our winter courses is what if there is no snow. Although we can’t control the weather we can almost guarantee there will be snow. Especially on the high peaks during winter and early spring. But for those of you that still have concerns, let us put your worries to rest.
If for some reason the winter is mild and the snowfall doesn’t stick; fortunately for you, it’s not the end of the world. If you are joining Scot Mountain Holidays on a Winter Skill course, snow is actually only one of three factors in the course going ahead. Arguably the two most important factors to consider are in fact wind (for drifting) and the huge Cairngorm plateau (for snow capture) on the windward side of our chosen sites.
Keep in mind that the Cairngorms are home to Britain’s most permanent snow-beds. And the snow (if at all) will generally only melt in July and early August. Plus, though there might not be enough snow cover for skiing, for the winter walker/climber, complete snow cover is fabulous but not essential. Thick deep snow can make our day out more strenuous than necessary.
This means that, in the fifteen winter seasons that Scot Mountain Holidays have been running winter skill courses and hiking holidays, a course has never been cancelled due to lack of snow.
Scot Mountain Holidays winter courses teach many skills to deal with a variety of snow conditions. The hard icy snow that develops after a thaw and subsequent refreeze is ideal for teaching the crampon skills. Often a new blanket of snow won’t add any additional benefits to our winter skill courses.
Remember, if there’s no snow on the lower lands this shouldn’t affect any winter skill course you are participating in. While snow is a very strong likelihood on the peaks and where our courses take place, there are many other factors that will make your experience very memorable.
Narrowing down the destination for your yearly holiday can be difficult. Trying to decide between relaxation and adventure often leaves you straddling the fence. And factoring in whether you’re approach should be take it as it comes or plan ahead so you have a full day of activities can often be exhausting. So that leaves the question, what is a winning holiday formula?
Here at Scot Mountain Holidays we think adding a little of everything creates the perfect recipe. The best of both worlds, if you will. Our perfect formula incorporates relaxation time and adventure. Amazing food, but cooked in the homely style that makes you feel like you’re home away from home. And finally, the kind of holiday where you have plenty to do, but don’t have to plan or think about any of it.
Our fully catered walking, hiking or cycling holidays means there is no stress on you. Not only does it allow you to experience parts of Scotland not often seen and get really under the skin both culturally and historically. But you’ll also have the perfect balance of adventurous activity and down time. Based from the Cairngorms National Park, Fraoch Lodge, run by Scot Mountain Holidays, is the perfect base for your holiday. The national park will give you opportunity for serene country strolls, stunning views and quiet afternoons by the fire. And the guided tours will satisfy all your adventure needs with the added bonus of activity (hiking and/or mountain biking for the most part, though other options are available) and breathtaking scenery. Incorporate restaurant quality food served in a homely style we all love and you’ve got yourself the perfect holiday.
So take away the stress of planning and booking your holiday. Scotland no matter what the season is an incredible destination. And if you book with Scot Mountain Holidays, you really will have a winning holiday formula.
Whatever winter sport is your passion, getting the most out of the UK winter season is inevitably about being opportunistic. You need to jump to it when the conditions are right. Getting into the hills requires some degree of planning. When forecasters tend only to predict 3 days in advance, it doesn’t give much time to get organised. You need to learn all the tips you can on about how to forecast snow.
This changes though when you understand atmospheric thickness and how it relates to the 5 day synoptic weather charts. Have you ever noticed those numbered dashed lines hiding behind the isobars? (see below) Well they represent the thickness of the atmosphere and this directly relates to the temperature of the air-mass. Bear with me, here’s the techie bit.
Air pressure at sea level tends to equalise at around 1000mb. The colder the air, the greater the density and hence you need less of it volume wise to create that 1000mb pressure. Therefore the atmosphere is thinner at the poles than it is at the equator. Meteorologists have realised that by measuring the altitude at which the air pressure halves (i.e. is 500mb) they can plot the movement of cold air from the polar regions towards the equator. In our case these thickness lines represent the southern limit of cold air moving down from the north.
As far as wintry weather in the UK’s mountains is concerned it’s the 528 line (equates to 5280m) you want to watch out for. When it crosses the UK you can expect snow on the hills at least. They are a bit like contour lines. The closer together they are the more the marked the temperature change but if, lets say, the 528 line is 300 miles out to the west over the Atlantic you might be at least be expecting snow on the highest tops in Scotland. If the 510 line approaches the UK wrap up warm, very warm!
For those of you who can jump to it and might be in need of accommodation in the Northern Cairngorms area check out Fraoch Lodge.
Located in the heart of Scotland, the Cairngorms National Park is voted one of the top 20 places to visit in the world by National Geographic Traveller Magazine. Offering activities for all types of travellers it’s no wonder people flock from all around the world to see this little piece of paradise.
Easily accessible from Scotland’s major cities, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Cairngorms are incredibly well connected and easy to navigate by all sources of public and private transportation. While in the national park you’ll find many walking/cycling paths for all levels of fitness connecting villages and towns making it exceptionally easy to explore.
Not all footpaths are waymarked, particularly on the high hills. If you’re unfamiliar with the area or if you want to learn a bit more about the Cairngorms and their history, geology, habitats, wildlife etc; then it is always a worthwhile investment to book:
No matter what your age or situation the Cairngorms offer attractions for everyone. You’re sure to feel the culture of Scotland with many historical castles to visit.
And on the outskirts of the Cairngorms:
There are also distilleries aplenty producing the famous whisky the region is known for. (We’re at the beginning of the famous Speyside Whisky Trail and our tours often include a visit to Glenlivet distillery and/or the Speyside Cooperage – where the oak barrels are made for the distilleries.) The national park is also home to endless outdoor opportunities. Because of this, walking, hiking and cycling are fantastic day activities, as well as endless outdoor choices and wildlife spotting opportunities. As a result, you’ll visit the best locations along amazing hiking trails when joining Scot Mountain Holidays on a guided tour. And, with Andy as your guide you’ll learn so much more about the region and the wildlife.
No matter what the season, the Cairngorms offer fantastic attractions. Water sports and water based activities are a great option in summer and spring. In winter and late autumn there are snow sports and more complex hiking options to choose from. And wildlife watching and incredible hiking and cycling trails are available all year long. Because the Cairngorms are so well connected, Scot Mountain Holidays have options to experience all parts of Scotland. Giving you the best of both worlds.
Whether you’ve been before or a first time visitor, The Cairngorms National Park is a place you’ll grow to love. Fraoch Lodge, the heart of Scot Mountain Holidays will give you a base near all of the major sites. And Scot Mountain Holidays will help you to experience the Cairngorms in all their glory.
There are hikes suitable for the wee ones, the ancients, the enthusiasts and the dabblers. Wildlife and nature walks to backpacks across the park. You can lose yourself in the “backwoods” or “wilderness” of the Cairngorm hinterland or saunter at your leisure through stunning scenery with the dog, the kids or on your own. There are certainly enough paths to choose from that you can choose solitude if you wish. The multitude of options can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the area, but here at Fraoch Lodge, we pride ourselves on choosing the best option to give you memories which will be the highlight of your visit to Scotland.
There are numerous activities in the Cairngorms, particulary for those who enjoy the outdoors:
All these options are open to guests based at Fraoch Lodge – Andy and Rebecca are here to guide you on what is possible in your available time.
If you are short of time you may want help putting the highlights of the Highlands, particularly the Cairngorms, into a time frame to make the most of your visit. We have an ideal 3 day experience of the Cairngorms which will get you hiking, biking and experiencing some of the crafts which have been a part of daily life in Scotland for hundreds of years. Use the Cairngorm Discovery tour as your introduction to the Highlands or as a base for your own Off the Beaten Track experience.