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Snowhole Expedition - guided winter mountain walking & over night snow-hole

Holiday summary

An incredible overnight experience in the high winter mountains of the Cairngorms National Park


18/01/2019, 21/02/2019


3 days, 4 nights

Meeting Points

We offer free transfers between Aviemore train station/ Inverness Airport and Fraoch Lodge Please notify us of your intended time of arrival so we can co-ordinate pick ups. Provisional pick up time from Inverness airport is around 5pm unless otherwise arranged. If travelling by car- turn off A9 onto the A95 following signs for Carrbridge and Boat of Garten. Turn right to Boat of Garten, Fraoch Lodge is on the right 150 metres after the 30mph sign. We advise our guests to try to arrive by 7pm on the evening before the walking starts if possible. Dinner is usually served at 8pm

All Inclusive




4 out of 5

Tour Highlights


  • fully inclusive
  • an unrivalled experience of a unique challenge
  • construct and stay for a night in a comfortable communal snowhole
  • all meals at Fraoch Lodge including from evening of arrival to morning of departure
  • 4 nights accommodation at Fraoch Lodge

Check out the highlights of the Snow Hole Expedition filmed by Lonely Planet:


The challenge is unique, the rewards are unrivalled and the memories are unforgettable. Help construct a comfortable communal snowhole lit by the reflected light of candles! Wake up to the absolute silence of a pristine winter wonderland bathed in the soft light of a Cairngorm dawn. Snow-holing in Scotland is for some one of the most remarkable experiences.

Snow Hole Expedition

Digging in for a night out on the mountain.

Although at times tough and not necessarily for the faint hearted, this isn’t an SAS survival course. The focus is on it being an experience to be enjoyed, not endured. The aim is to go deep into the winter mountain wilderness and put in the time in to make our communal snow-hole comfortable. Our inspiration isn’t your local rabbit warren but the Sistine Chapel!! Well, almost. We construct a snow-hole designed specifically for Scottish conditions. We make it big with a vaulted roof for good ventilation. We snow-hole, we don’t snow-hovel! Once the hard work is done it’s time to snuggle into your cosy sleeping bag, sit back, relax, and enjoy the camaraderie of the shared experience. Andy, your guide cooks up a delicious home-prepared 3 course meal for us all to enjoy together. Who else can boast home-made Carrot and Cardamon soup in a snow-hole!

Snow Hole Expedition

Dinner’s on the go.

The trip starts with a day of the necessary winter skills training on the high snowy flanks of Cairngorm before ascending to its lofty summit. We then return to Fraoch Lodge for the night before setting out for our 2 day expedition for the intervening night in the snow-hole. We then return to Fraoch Lodge for the final night and one of Rebecca’s delicious evening meals before you depart after breakfast the following morning.

your walking guide

Andy enjoying winter conditions in the Cairngorms


Andy has over 35 Snow-hole Expeditions to his credit over nearly 20 years and is one of the few instructors in the UK deemed competent by HSE criteria to lead Snow-holing trips. He is Scotland’s leading exponent of the activity and through the exposure his trips have had in the press and media, snow-holing has greatly increased as a winter activity in its own right.

To read Andrew’s top ten tips for successful snow-holing go to our blog


Experience & Fitness:

Guests should have plenty of stamina and a good level of physical fitness to cope with three physically demanding days in the winter mountains. The 2 expedition days will involve about 4-5 hours walking with around a 10 kg rucksack, in what could be difficult conditions. On the 1st Expedition day the walk-in is followed by at least 4hrs of sometimes heavy digging. Guests should have had some previous hill-walking experience, preferably in winter though this isn’t essential.

winter wildlife

A ptarmigan high in the Cairngorms

We asked our guests what sets Scot Mountain Holidays apart, why they return year after year:

“the social aspect”  –  “the camaraderie, food and conversation”   –
“the company of the hosts”  –  
“so warm and welcoming”  –  

 “a profound sense of belonging”  –  “the welcome of Rebecca’s home cooked meal”  –  “Andy’s skills as a guide, naturalist and leader”  –  “stewardship, sustainability and a small footprint”  –  “in harmony with the land”  –  “a slice of rural Scottish life”

Scot Mountain Holidays is the ONLY adventure tour operator in Highlands of Scotland with a combined home and guest lodge. We strive to be more than just a tour. We aim to provide you with a ‘home away from home’ on your adventures. We thought of no better way of doing this than to welcome you into our own home.

Fraoch Lodge

Enjoy the open fire and discussions in the lounge

We have owned and operated Fraoch Lodge as our home base and business since 1999. In that time, we have come to embrace our guests as members of our extended Highland family.

We source our meals from locally produced and home grown ingredients to provide you with the most delicious flavours and traditions the area has to offer (while minimising our impact on the environment, too). Our dining room and lounge are shared spaces where we gather with guests and friends to share in the holiday and offer you extensive knowledge of your tour.

No matter the season, the Cairngorms and Fraoch Lodge is a place to relax and explore all its beauty and comforts, and we hope to make you feel as at home as we are.

snow in the Cairngorms

Snow plastering Fraoch Lodge

We have achieved Gold Star Awards from the world’s most highly respected green accreditation scheme, Green Tourism, and were awarded Highly Commended in their Green Star Awards 2013 for both Scot Mountain Holidays and Fraoch Lodge. We offer a Green Travel Discount of £15 to any guests who travel to us by public transport. Our primary aim is to minimise the carbon footprint of our holidays, and to this end we donate 1% of the price of our tours to the RSPB’s Abernethy Reforestation project.

It is a holistic approach we have to the care of the environment. Andy your adventure guide has a passion for the natural world – whether it’s the flora, fauna or fungi. He has a background in geology and a lifelong interest in natural history, as well as being a keen gardener.  He knows a Golden Plover from a Dotterel, a Green Shank and a Dunlin. He also makes no apologies to being very excitable upon spying a Golden Eagle!

For further information, please don’t hesitate to check out our Environmental Responsibility page, or contact us directly at info@scotmountainholidays.com.

Gold award - Green Tourism

Gold standard for Green Tourism

Booking Procedure

Departure Guarantee

We are proud to continue to offer our unique departure guarantee*. If your booking is confirmed by Scot Mountain Holidays you can be assured that your holiday will run. We can offer this guarantee as we are unique amongst walking holiday operators in Scotland by providing all the parts of your holiday (guiding, accommodation and catering) in-house.
* Scot Mountain Holidays reserves the right to alter the venue and itinerary of holidays advertised as based away from Fraoch Lodge.

We work with Worldpay to process our online transactions now so you can rest assured that your payment will be processed securely. We accept the following cards:

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Booking online is straightforward and enables us to confirm your reservation immediately. We also accept bookings by telephone, email, and post.

Attention! Don’t forget to read our trip dossier and booking terms and conditions, BEFORE you complete the booking process!

A deposit of 50% is required at the time of booking unless you are booking less than 28 days before departure. In this case, full payment of the trip price is required

Your Financial Protection

In compliance with the UK Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 a client deposit account has been arranged with the Royal Bank of Scotland to protect monies paid in respect of travel arrangements offered in the Brochure and to cater, where necessary (and subject to the terms of the insurance policy), for a refund of such monies in the unlikely event of our financial failure. The balance of payment is due 28 days prior to the commencement of the course. Credit/debit cards accepted are: Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Switch, Non-refundable deposits will be debited on receipt of the booking form. Balance of payment reminder will automatically be sent out to you. Please be prompt in paying the balance. If you decide to pay by internet bank transfer please use your own name or booking number as a reference for the payment so it can be reconciled.


It is a condition of booking that you are insured against medical and personal accident risks. This must include cover for the activities to be undertaken during the trip. We also recommend that you take out insurance which includes cancellation and baggage cover.

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