January 2018 has been a very busy month which Andy is currently rounding off with (another) snowhole trip into the gale-bound Cairngorms with a team from the BBC Travel Show. Nerves were displayed by the newbies presenting the programme. I think they were daunted by the Triathlon enthusiasts who’d been drafted in to help dig.
We welcomed in 2018 in the company of our select winter walkers. The group all brought in the New Year with a great deal of good-humoured and crowded dancing in the street in Grantown on Spey. Dancing was followed by a magnificent firework display. Great fun for everyone which topped off some fabulous snowy walks.
Andy was even able to get out the tentipi and show off it’s capabilities over a cosy whisky in the evening. His market research (which might be skewed by the whisky and warmth inside the tentipi) shows some demand for his pony wilderness glamping proposals.
5 younger enthusiasts joined us on January 1st for the first winter skills and navigation course of 2018. We think the photos tell most of the story. Great fun and quantities of cake kept everyone happy throughout.
Back for some more trailbreaking through the snow-decked Cairngorms. Our blog advice on how to keep your hands warm and how to keep your phone going in the cold were of great help this week.
Lorna chose to encourage her friends and family to join her on a Snow Hole Expedition with Andy to celebrate her 50th birthday. We felt honoured. Lorna herself must have enjoyed the experience because she’s back right now helping the BBC to dig in tonight. Let’s hope they get to see the blue moon despite the snow showers.
If you’d like to join us for a winter walking extravaganza or to learn new winter skills, there’s still plenty of time. Winter in the Highlands lasts well into March and sometimes even April.
Plenty of choice of walking holiday or skills course
there are trails all round the area plus several centres with purpose-built tracks like Laggan Wolftrax and Glenlivet Bike Trails. Bikes can be hired from Mikes Bikes or Bothy Bikes in Aviemore.
visit Smarty Art or take a half day work shop with Three Bags Wool in Aberlour (try knitting, crochet, needle felting, thrug making …)
you could take the public bus to Boat of Garten (5 miles) or Nethybridge (8 miles) and walk back to Aviemore stopping in the Old Bridge Inn for a pint on your return.
and paddle the Spey;
canoe with the Moray Firth dolphins or kayak/canoe on Loch Ness.
and check out the Findhorn Foundation or visit the Kimberley Inn for lunch and walk along the white sands of the beach.
and try out ice skating.
unfortunately the Aviemore pool at the Macdonald’s resort is not currently available to the public for swimming.
and tour a distillery plus visit the Cooperage and round of the day with a visit to the Smokehouse by Grantown on Spey where you can observe the workers preparing the smoked salmon to be shipped all over the country to supermarkets and restaurants all over the place. Some of the salmon is smoked over the shavings from the whisky barrels to add extra flavour.
or Johnston’s wool mill in Elgin if Knockando is closed. Tours are every hour until 3 or 4pm and are free of charge.
where you can experience the whole wool story from shorn fleece to completed material.
and/or the Highland Folk Museum
New website for the Cairngorms National park highlighting selected experiences within the park – cairngormsnationalpark.co.uk
In January we were fortunate enough to meet a group of novice winter walkers from Barings Bank all keen to learn new skills and experience Scotland in winter. They were lucky enough to time their visit to coincide with the most wintry weekend of January 2017.
First outing of the Tentipi in Knoydart made for quite an adventure in Barisdale, though unfortunately not a lot of snow.
The stories they had … survival of the fittest under trying and wet circumstances:
Inside the Tentipi with the glorious explorers – check out the drying system.
Would this be a welcoming sight at the end of a day’s hike? Warm, light and food.
This is the reason for being out with the Tentipi. What a day out.
What was the full story? Ask Andy for details. Definitely one for the memoires.
We all know that the 2017 season was not at its best in terms of snow. We did still manage to run all our snow hole expeditions. None of our groups retreated.
Certainly Challenge Sophie
and the Lonely Planet team seemed to have a great time out in the Cairngorms.
The Lonely Planet team out in the Cairngorms with Scot Mountain Holidays
More snow at the end of April in 2017 than we saw for a lot of the winter season. The 4000ers group were treated to several avalanche sightings as they completed their route around Braeriach, Angel’s Peak etc.
We had an amazing week in the Outer Hebrides. The ladies loved paddling along the white sand beaches. Heading back in September if there’s enough interest. Check out the photos.
Unfortunately the weather didn’t really hold out for the group who came to do the Skye Munros later in the month (unfinished business for some perhaps?) but towards the end of the week, we still have some amazing weather.
We’re working with some French partners to introduce more of our international guests to the glories of hiking and mountain biking in the Highlands of Scotland. In June 2017, we met a lovely group of mountain bikers who stayed a week at Fraoch Lodge, exploring some of the classic routes and also the Glenlivet area.
We also ran a trial weekend in Knoydart with the Tentipi for a friend’s 50th birthday.
Many of you may have met Mick as in the course of our last 19 years here in Scotland, Mick Wansborough has probably been are most “frequent flyer”. So much so that Mick has lost track of how many times he’s been on our trips.
These are Mick’s parting words as he won’t be able to participate in any future trips due to ill health in his family:
“I have had many (15?16?) enjoyable times with Scot Mountain Holidays. Andy always devises varied and interesting itineraries and, although I regarded myself as a reasonably experienced fell-walker, I have learnt much from Andy’s guidance and advice and have gained in confidence. And Rebecca’s catering is superb – just the thing for a hard day’s hill-walking
I wish you both continuing success – you deserve it. As I’ve said before: you both work very hard and are both very good at what you do!”
We are very sorry to lose Mick but he will be fondly remembered on all future trips. Someone else will now have to step up to Mick’s self-appointed position of “shop steward” on the walks.