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What does ‘off the beaten track mean to you’? Depending on how adventurous you are, the phrase can mean different things to different people. It can be scary to choose the path less travelled by, but the benefits from getting off the beaten track in Scotland are exhilarating.

Skye Munros - Scotland

Topping out on the Innaccessable Pinnacle in glorious sunshine weather, Skye May 2016

But, this certainly doesn’t mean you need to skip all the top sites like Loch Ness. For some, getting out of cities is rural enough and therefore Loch Ness is a great choice. But for those feeling adventurous and wanting to get a little more remote, we can help you there.

So, how to find a place where few people go?

Wanting to find a little peace and quiet is the most natural thing in the world whether you’re most at home surrounded by nature, a city dweller or somewhere in between. And arguably, there is no better place than the Highlands of Scotland. Known for its epic beauty, contrasting scenery and out of this world views, you’ll soon find yourself where the air and water are fresher and the most prominent noises keeping you company is nature at its finest.

The Cairngorm National Park is the ideal base for you to experience and explore the remoteness the Highlands can offer. Depending how far off the beaten track you want to get you’ll find an array of options suited for all fitness levels and ages. Offering options to be guided, or self exploration if you prefer, Scot Mountain Holidays has it all.

Mountain peaks

We understand that only you know what getting off the beaten track means. But, Scot Mountain Holiday trips, by definition are all off the beaten track. It’s unlikely you’ll see crowds of people during any typical day with us. Choosing one of our trips is a great way to decide if the more unusual spots and a more active vacation is the way forward for you.

Whether you’re after hiking, mountain biking, walking or countryside relaxation, you’ll find it here.   We can help organise a tailor-made trip for you, friends and family. Or, you can join one of our scheduled trips where you’ll meet like-minded people and gain friends for life. The choice is yours.

Longing to escape? Winter in a city getting to you? How about escaping into the wilds of theHighlands?

Every year there are reports of people getting lost in the snow and ice of winter. Mountain rescue callouts are predominantly about navigation errors. To make winter a safer place, it is a good idea to book a guide to lead or alternatively join a group heading out into the hills. Some groups are organised by companies on commercial trips, others are groups of friends or clubs. Nonetheless there is safety in numbers.

Every year there are winter wilderness expeditions running under the guidance of Andy Bateman of Scot Mountain Holidays in the Cairngorms and Glen Affric. There’s also usually a trip to Knoydart, home to Britain’s most remote pub; however there is a major reforestation project going on there this year which makes it less attractive to visit and all the accommodation will be taken by the forestry workers.

Life will be reduced to basics during the expedition and the only concerns will be: eat – sleep – hike (repeat). The perfect way to clear the mind and return feeling completely refreshed after only a few short days.

  • winter walking Cairngorms
    Walking in winter has it's own rewards in the endless mountain views in crystal clear visibility.

Winter Expeditions 

1. Southern Cairngorms Winter Odyssey

This is a rare opportunity to experience one of the remotest parts of the Cairngorms National Park at a time when the mountains are probably at their most glorious. The High Cairngorms are renowned for their wintry conditions yet at this time very few folk dare to do multi-day trips

winter in the Cairngorms

Celia enjoying her second (or third) winter expedition with Scot Mountain Holiadays

Highlights: winter skills, Monadh Mhor (Munro), Devil’s Point (Munro) Carn a’ Mhaim (Munro), Derry Cairngorm (Munro), Beinn a’ Chaorainn (Munro)

 

Price: £ on application

Email: SCO@scotmountainholidays.com for full information about this trip.

MINIMUM GROUP SIZE: 3 PEOPLE – Private dates available. Please enquire.

 

2. Winter Cairngorms 4000ers

This is Scotland’s ultimate winter mountain journey. The high “plateau” route takes in Britain’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th highest peaks on a journey that circumnavigates Scotland’s finest and best known mountain pass, the Lairig Ghru.

winter in Scotland

Check out the potential avalanche sites on the head wall. You can see how the corrie came to be made

Highlights: winter skills, Cairngorm (6th Highest Munro), Ben Macdui (2nd Highest Munro), Braeriach (3rd Highest Munro), Cairn Toul (4th Highest Munro), Sgor an Lochain Uaine (Munro)

Price: £ on application

Email: CWO@scotmountainholidays.com for full information about this trip

MINIMUM GROUP SIZE: 3 PEOPLE – Private dates available. Please enquire.

 

3. Glen Affric Winter Shangri-La

Imagine the soft orange light of a winters dawn gleaming down from the snowy celestial heights. Surrounded by snowy peaks and cradling a mug of tea in the crisp air, indeed a stunning winter’s day beckons.

Highlights: winter skills, Mullach Fraoch – choire (Munro), Mam Sodhail (Munro), Carn Eighe (Munro), An Socach (Munro), Carn a’Choire Ghairbh (Munro)

winter expedition Scotland

Spotting deer in Glen Affric while on winter expedition in Scotland

Price: £ on application

Email: Shangri-La@scotmountainholidays.com for full information about this trip

MINIMUM GROUP SIZE: 3 PEOPLE – Private dates available. Please enquire.

 

Or for something slightly different

 

4. Snow Hole Expedition

“Porridge with whisky at 9am whilst warm & dry in my sleeping bag has never tasted better!” Ric Taylor,Bristol.”

Have you ever dreamt of taking a short walk amongst a moonlit snowy wonderland. Amazingly no need for a torch! Imagine reflected flickering candle light giving way to the soft light of a winters dawn as you emerge from you snowy abode. Not a soul about! We’ll have a vast pristine winter wonderland all to ourselves. It’s a remarkable experience.

Highlights: winter skills on Cairngorm, overnight expedition to sleep in a snow cave, creation of said snow cave

snowholing expedition

how to build a snowhole in Scotland

All digging and cooking equipment supplied by your hosts, Scot Mountain Holidays.

Check full details on the website 

 

5. Winter Knoydart Expedition

Highlights:

Accommodation: Barrisdale Stable (if available) or heated Tentipi

MINIMUM GROUP SIZE: 3 PEOPLE – Private dates available. Please enquire.

 

6. Winter Loch Nevis Expedition

Highlights:

Accommodation: Barrisdale Stable (if available) or heated Tentipi

MINIMUM GROUP SIZE: 3 PEOPLE – Private dates available. Please enquire.

 

Why book with Scot Mountain Holidays?

  1. The routes have all been checked carefully. In addition, routes are very familiar to the guide who will know how to adapt according to the weather conditions. He or she will also know where and how to avoid the cornices (overhanging snow features)
  2. Accommodation is organised therefore no tents flapping in the wind keeping everyone awake.
  3. Toilet and wash facilities will be available without having to “go native” and dig a hole.
  4. Cooking will be done by the guide.
  5. Food will all be prepared from fresh, local produce to a wide range of recipes including carrot and cardamom soup. Obviously no commercial packets for us.
  6. All group equipment will be provided.

Know your Scotch Whisky- become a Malt Whisky Connoisseur

NB It’s rare to find a Scot who will talk about “Scotch whisky”. For Scots in Scotland, there is no such thing as Scotch whisky. We have whisky or malt whisky or single malt.

The Speyside Whisky Festival is just around the corner again. We thought we’d dust off this old blog of ours and give you some insider knowledge of what to look for if you’re coming up for if you want to take home a really special bottle of Malt whisky – a really special bottle of Scotch whisky.

We live on the edge of the whisky trail and can’t help but acquire pointers from the experts about how to choose a special Scotch whisky. Andy has paid close attention to Mike Drury of the Whisky Castle in Tomintoul who is a leading light in the whisky world. Mike retired from running the Whisky Castle a few years ago. He now enjoys a totally different relaxed lifestyle on the Isle of Mull. However, the new owners have been just as helpful to our guests (and Andy).

Here Andy shares the benefit of his many visits to whisky country so you too can go home with a unique bottle of whisky. There’s nothing like living in Scotland to develop your appreciation for “the water of life”, as whisky is known in Gallic.

What to look for when choosing a really special scotch whisky to buy

When it comes to choosing fine malt whisky there are 4 things you need to know. In order of importance they are:

  1.  the quality of the cask in which the whisky has been matured
  2. whether the whisky has been chill filtered
  3. the age of the whisky
  4. whether additives have been added

 Too much emphasis is often placed on the age of the whisky and the distillery in it was produced. Every distillery has the potential to produce fine and not so fine malt whisky.

Scotch whisky

What to look for on a whisky label if you’re looking for a really special bottle – but don’t expect it to be “cheap”.

 

Cask Wood Quality for malt whisky (Scotch whisky)

There are 2 aspects to this:

a)     The number of times the cask has been used previously to mature Scotch Malt whisky

b)     Whether the whisky is the product of single or multiple casks

To be classified as Scotch Malt Whisky it has to have been matured for a minimum of 3 years in the cask. Many distillers though will mature their whisky for a lot longer, usually around 10 years before they’re satisfied with the quality to release it for sale.

During the maturation period there is a complex interaction between the oak wood and the alcohol with the alcohol drawing out many of the oils and other components of the wood to create Scotch Malt Whisky. Up to 60% of theses vital ingredients can be drawn out after the first maturation of scotch malt whisky. During the life of a cask it’s easy to see that the wood can become quickly exhausted with the whisky produced from subsequent maturations being of a lower standard.  If a tired cask is being used to mature whisky in it doesn’t matter how long the spirit is left in it to mature, the resultant whisky will lack quality/flavour. There are things that can be done to help rejuvenate the cask but the original qualities are never fully achieved.

The majority of malt whisky sold is the product of a number of casks ‘married’ together (up to 100), some good first refill/generation and some not so good 3rd or 4th refill/generation.

On the bottle label you should be looking for the whisky being single cask and 1st or 2nd refill/generation.

Un-chillfiltered

The spirit is matured in the cask at around 60%ABV. This results in an equilibrium being established between the strength of the spirit and it’s ability to draw out and “carry” the various oils, etc of the wood. Most scotch malt whisky is diluted with water and sold at around 40%ABV.

This dilution in itself results in the whisky becoming cloudy as there is no longer the concentration of alcohol to support the oils i.e. an emulsion is starting to form. There is nothing wrong with the whisky at this point other than it maybe appearing less appealing. To get around this problem much of the malt whisky sold is chill-filtered. Cooling the whisky makes the heavier oils more viscous allowing them to be removed by a5 to 3micro filter. The issue is that these heavier oils, etc are what give a good malt whisky it’s depth of character and flavour

You should be looking on the label for the words “unchillfiltered” or “non chill filtered” and the ABV should be 46% or more. If the whisky is below 46%ABV it’s a sure sign it has been chill filtered.

(One issue here is that some countries do not allow the importation of alcohol for re-sale with an ABV above 40%.)

 

Scotch whisky

Whisky tasting under the expert guidance of Mike Drury when he was in control at the Whisky Castle

 

Age

Whisky is stored in wooden casks, usually made of white oak. Presuming the spirit is being matured in a quality cask, there is complex interaction between the wood and the spirit. This interaction is a slow. The harsher flavours of the whisky are softened over time. The age of the malt whisky is an important factor in the quality of the final product though whisky doesn’t necessarily always continue to improve with age.

Generally you will be looking for a minimum of 10 year old whisky.

Caramel Additive

It’s tempting but don’t ever judge a malt whisky by its colour. A lot of malt whisky has caramel added to make it darker. It also of course alters the flavour. This is the only additive that is allowed to be added to Scotch Malt Whisky

You should also be looking for words like “natural colour” on the bottle

Scotch whisky

Exclusive whisky from Gordon & Macphail

 

Where to Purchase Scotch whisky

Generally its independent bottlers who deal in high end malt whisky and available through specialist whisky shops.

Independent Bottlers:

……. to name a few.

Specialist Whisky Shops:

Recommended links for Scotch whisky

The Whisky Castle, Tomintoul is an independent whisky store with 500 malt whiskies listed online. They specialise in independently bottled, non-chillfiltered, non-caramalised, single cask, single malt whiskies.

Whisky month  – join Scotland in a month-long celebration of our national drink. Whether you’re a whisky novice or a whisky connoisseur, there’s something for everyone to do, including our Mountains and Malts trip.

The Speyside Whisky Festival – discover the passion behind the world’s finest whiskies

Whisky trail – Follow the world-famous Malt Whisky Trail through Speyside to seven working distilleries, including a fascinating cooperage and a historic distillery.

Looking for something to do while your partner explores a distillery and whisky related stuff – try Three Bags Wool in Aberlour

 

In the heart of the Cairngorms National Park lies it’s namesake, the Cairngorms. The Cairngorms, a range of mountain peaks adorning the skyline, are rich with historical importance, and full of nature and wildlife. The soul of the Cairngorms, boast four of the five highest peaks in the United Kingdom. Conveniently, this is located just a short drive from Fraoch Lodge, home of Scot Mountain Holidays.

Hiking Ben Macdui

Hiking Ben Macdui with Scot Mountain Holidays group tour

Hiking Ben Macdui

Ben Macdui, at 1309 metres was our destination. Departing Fraoch Lodge we set out for a full day of hiking with the group tour leader, Andy. As someone who hasn’t done much hiking I was in good hands. Scot Mountain Holidays offered plenty of advice, tips and tricks. I felt well equipped in handling the changing climate, the potential wet weather, and cool temperature ahead of us.

Guided Touring with Scot Mountain Holidays

Andy is knowledgeable in not only the secrets of the mountain, but also fauna, wildlife and navigation. This became increasingly comforting as the heavy fog set in the higher we climbed. Transforming the landscape into a world of grey, it wasn’t long before the dips, plains and landmarks of the mountain became a sea of similarity for me.

But, with what appeared to be second nature to Andy, we headed away from the path ready to experience the Cairngorms, raw and untouched. Appreciating the full benefits of guided touring, it was as simple as follow the leader. It’s also advised to keep a camera at the ready for wildlife that Andy has a knack for spotting. We also had Andy’s storytelling keeping us company as we rose higher, with stories of history and legends wealthy with detail and fascinating to hear.

wildlife spotting and hiking

Wildlife with a view

The secrets of Ben Macdui revealed

Before long, history came to life in the form of a plane crash memorial. Pieces of the aircraft littered the mountainside and somewhat eerily seemed almost untouched 70 years on from the impact. Andy’s knowledge of the Cairngorms secrets continued to be show cast during the ascent and decline. Continuing to hike away from the track we came across no one. Allowing us to appreciate the solidarity, and peacefulness of the mountainous environment. With gorgeous views, and amazing landscape treating us as the cloud cover ebbed and waned. The experience of hiking Ben MacDui was memorable and a great combination of challenging and rewarding.

After a full day of hiking we returned to the homely comforts of Fraoch Lodge. Arriving to a roaring fire and well-deserved coffee o’clock it was a warm and welcoming homecoming. Rebecca’s home cooked meal, delicious and restaurant quality was the perfect way to finish a great day. Scot Mountain Holidays is a perfect blend of leadership, knowledge and homely comforts resulting in an amazing experience for group tour hiking.

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise being gentle, easy and free. It’s something everyone can do, and extremely beneficial to your wellbeing. So, it’s no wonder masses of people are beginning to introduce walking to their daily lives. But to keep the habit up it’s important to ensure you’re not letting your walking become a chore. So to avoid this, try these easy steps to turn a walk into an adventure.

Mountains and Malts - whisky themed hiking

Hiking in the Highlands exploring the footsteps laid by smugglers of old

Turn a walk into an adventure

Walking has been proven to assist you in maintaining a healthy weight, prevent or manage various conditions including heart disease and high blood pressure and additionally, it strengthens your bones and muscles. Not only this, but it’s extremely positive to your mental wellbeing. And, it’s a great excuse to take some time for yourself.

Take the road less travelled by

Firstly, it’s time to get off the beaten path. Head away from the pavement and hit the trails. The Cairngorm National Park is full of gorgeous forest, river and mountain walking so you’re rich for choice.

Switch off

Once you’re away from the roads, and traffic of the world, take some time away from technology. Leave your phone at home, turn the music off and appreciate the beauty of nature. This will not only be a refreshing break and an opportunity for you to restart. But, you will find yourself so much more connected to nature, and you’re much more likely to spot wildlife and fauna. This will add a level of appreciation, and excitement to your walks.

Walk the Lairig Ghru

Self-guided Lairig Ghru logistics

Follow your instinct

This goes hand in hand with switching off. If you have some sense of direction, try to avoid planning out your route prior to your walk. Follow your instinct, keep things fresh and go somewhere new each day. Making a split second decision at each fork you come to, will add a sense of exhilaration to your walking adventures.

These three easy to do steps will be just the thing to turn your walking into memorable adventures.

 

 

 

So you’re considering going on a hiking holiday? Firstly; great choice. Not only is hiking extremely beneficial to your health and wellbeing. But it’s also a cheaper way to travel and allows you to experience the essence of a place. Hiking holidays are becoming increasingly popular, but there is the question, how to choose a hike in Scotland when there’s such a wide range available?

mountains of scotland

Stac Pollaidh, Assynt, Scotland – north of Inverness

How to choose a hike for you

The first thing to consider is if you want to go on a hike or a walk.

Do you want or need a guide? Fortunately, Scot Mountain Holidays have a range of group hiking holidays, tailor made tours, and private guiding options available, so you’ll definitely find the right hike for you. But to ensure you’ve found the perfect hike you do need to consider certain aspects.

Are you intending to go on an inn-to-inn hike? Follow a long distance trail? Or do you want to get into the mountain wilderness areas and have a truly unique and off the beaten track experience?

Are you quite happy hiking on your own but you’d like some guidance on choosing routes, support with transport? Find out about Scot Mountain Holidays self-guided options for the more adventurous.

 

Availability

Tours with Scot Mountain Holidays range from weekend getaways to seven days long. With tours running throughout the year, all that is required is for you to decide on your availability.

Hiking group poses at the top of one of Scotland's mountain peaks.

Hiking group celebrate reaching the top of one of Scotland’s many mountains

Choose a season

Choosing a season is one of the most important decisions in finding the right hike for you. Spring and summer are the most popular hiking periods and also provide the most pleasant hiking conditions. Perfect for those with families or first time hikers. Autumn is a wonderful season for hiking due to the beautiful colours, the changing environment and lack of climbing traffic. Autumn is suitable for everyone, and ideal for those who prefer a cooler temperature. Winter is considerably more difficult to hike in, and we recommend winter hiking for those confident in their abilities. This is due to the additional gear required and the added challenges of often hiking through snow. Winter is however often a more rewarding experience, with the raw beautiful scenery, clear winter views and the satisfying sense of accomplishment.

Level of difficulty

Scot Mountain Holiday tours are graded on a level of difficulty from two to five, with five being the most difficult. When considering how to choose a hike in Scotland it’s important to take into account your own level of fitness and choose a tour suited to you. For an overview, refer to the Scot Mountain Holidays grading system.

All Scot Mountain Holidays tours are all inclusive. So, all you need to do now, is chose a hike. To ensure the experience pre, during and post hike is completed stress free for you, Scot Mountain Holidays will take care of the rest.

Guided winter walking in Scotland

What a week of Guided winter walking in Scotland – almost 4 seasons in one week! From full whiteout blizzard to stunning views for miles from the summit of Braeriach, enhanced by a broken spectre with 2 silhouettes in the middle.

From conditions like this:

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Wintry conditions on the summit of Cairngorm at the beginning of the week

To glorious views like this:

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Stunning views to compensate for the lack of snow cover in the Cairngorms (courtesy of Claire Grogan)

 

The weekend at the beginning of the trip offered the worst of the weather, but unfortunately if you have to get back to work … maybe next time those who couldn’t stay on will be treated to views similar to those from Braeriach at the end of the week.

Quotes and reviews:

“Thank you again for a very enjoyable week. Andy’s knowledge of the mountains and of the geology, flora and fauna, together with the welcoming and homely atmosphere and Rebecca’s cooking makes for a great combination”

Guided winter walking in Scotland – the highlights from Gentle Giants/Classic Winter Cairngorms – January 2017

These are just a selection of some of the points which have made the week so memorable and will hopefully serve as talking points when everyone gets home.

Group:

included

– a diverse group of individuals (including one couple) united by a common interest.

Guided winter hiking in Scotland: Wildlife highlights:

We saw a vole and it didn’t just pop out and disappear; it stayed and snuffled around searching for food. We have a really good view of it.

Sightings of ptarmigan became quite common place as the week went on. The first was exciting but by the end of the week, we’d had at least 5 sightings. Ptarmigan sightings were exciting for one of our guests whose young grandson (under 10 years old) is a keen birdwatcher, so it was something he could share with him.

We spotted golden eagle and mountain hare in the white winter plumage.

winter wildlife Cairngorms

A ptarmigan makes walking across the snow look easy

Guided winter walking in Scotland: weather highlights

Many a hiker would love to be treated to a broken spectre. It adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the day and provides a talking point. Everyone wanted to see the pics (and it certainly proved popular on our social media.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPhU-QVhzFg/?taken-by=scotmountainholidays

Guided winter walking in Scotland: Scenic highlights

Panoramic photos courtesy of Claire Grogan

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Stunning winter views in the Cairngorms highlighted by a slight wisp of cloud to add character to the picture

Guided winter walking in the Cairngorms

Loch A’an sparkling in the sunlight peeping through the drifting cloud

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Clear dry air in winter makes for views which stretch for miles across the Cairngorms and beyond

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Not so wintry in the Cairngorms but still enjoying the company and repartee as the group ascends the ridges in the Cairngorms

 

Check out our Facebook album for a fuller collection of the photos taken during our trip.

Guided winter walking in Scotland: Recipe requests

Lentil loaf – a great vegetarian recipe to have up your sleeve for parties/dinners with friends.

Other food: Recipes going live shortly:

Beetroot brownies

Banana and fruit loaf pudding

Grasmere gingerbread

Raspberry and pine nut bars

Tear and share tomato and cheese bread

Summary:

A great group who enjoyed the variety of walking options during the week and did perhaps feel that they accomplished more in the week than they would have done without Andy’s guidance.

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.

Snow Hole Expedition

Digging in for the night in the Cairngorms

What if there is no snow?

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.

Summer snow patches in Scotland

Guests enjoying a patch of snow in the Cairngorms in July

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.

Man in snow-hole

Enjoying some light reading in a self made snow-hole

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.

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.

Wild scenery of Scotland

Glorious wild scenery for the Cairngorms National Park

So why visit the Cairngorms National Park?

  1. Accessibility

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:

  1. Attractions

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.

  1. Balmoral castle
  2. Braemar castle
  3. Corgarff castle
  4. Ballindalloch castle
  5. Loch an Eilean castle (ruins)
  6. Drumin castle, in Glenlivet

And on the outskirts of the Cairngorms:

  1. Cawdor castle
  2. Urquhart castle
  3. Brodie castle
  4. Balvenie Castle (ruins)
  5. Huntly Castle
Castles in the Cairngorms

Pipers welcome visitors to Braemar Castle

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.

 

Autumn hiking

Hiking in the autumn (Cairngorms, Highlands)

  1. Seasonal options

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.

wild blueberries in the Cairngorms

Wild blueberries abound in mid-summer here in the Cairngorms

4. Hiking for everyone

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.

Reindeer in the Cairngorms

Visit the Cairngorm Reindeer herd in the natural environment (Cairngorms)

Walking in the Cairngorms

Beautiful views and a clear path on the ascent of Meall a'Bhucaille

Wild scenery of Scotland

Glorious wild scenery for the Cairngorms National Park

Hiking in Scotland

Hiking through the varied habitats of the Cairngorms

5. Variety of activities

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.

6. Discovery tour

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.

crafts in Scotland

Sheep have been a major influence on the HIghlands as has their fleece!

Travel experiences play one of the most important roles in why so many of us continue to explore the world. Although this age of technology allows us to document almost every part of our day, nothing compares with experiencing something firsthand.

Hiking in Scotland

What more could you ask for from a hiking holiday in Scotland

So what makes travel experiences so much more special compared to our normal day-to-day experiences?

Open Mind

Visiting somewhere you’re not familiar with already means you have an open mind. But exposing yourself to the unexpected when travelling often allows you to broaden your mind so much further. This includes with culture, religion, food and people. Having an open mind and being willing to dive head first into an experience will make travel experiences exceptional.

Stretch your Boundaries

One of the best things you can do when travelling is get out of your comfort zone. Pushing yourself mentally, physically and emotional often yields the most wonderful of rewards. Scott Mountain Holidays will stretch your boundaries through both tailor made and structured group trips. But not to worry. Your boundaries may be stretched, but with Andy as your guide you’ll be well looked after.

Mountains and Malts - whisky themed hiking

Hiking in the Highlands exploring the footsteps laid by smugglers of old

Embrace and interact

Creating a special travel experience means you need to be willing to embrace interacting with locals, nature and culture alike. This will provide you with a well-rounded experience of a place and the opportunity to interact with likeminded individuals from across the world. Completing a tour with Scot Mountain Holidays will also allow you the rare opportunity to really embrace Scotland.

Be present in the moment

Photos and videos are such a wonderful way to capture the very best moments of a trip. However travelling is also a wonderful opportunity to take a step away from technology. When travelling, you can be present in the moment rather than experience it through the lens of your phone. So make your travel experience extra special and take the opportunity to really appreciate the place you’re in and what you’re exposed to. Scot Mountain Holidays hiking and walking trips allow you the chance to do this with plenty of opportunities to whip out your camera.

Scot Mountain Holidays is all about the experiences. Participate in walking, hiking or mountain biking holidays in a stunning Scotland, and you’ll go home with travel memories and experiences that will stay with you forever.

Do you agree? Is there anything you would add about your own travel experiences? For us, what has always made the best memories are those experiences we have had involving local people and unusual active experiences. What has given you the most memorable travel experience?

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