We noticed that you are based in the US - click here to visit our US website US 

Peace of Mind Guarantee   |   Book Now, Pay Later!

 

Cairngorms Winter Escape

5 Days & 4 Nights
  • Discover Scotland's largest National Park - the Cairngorms
  • Wind your way through ancient Scot's pine forest on easy-going loch-side trails
  • Visit the Reindeer Centre and walk among the Cairngorm's free-roaming herd
  • Hike tranquil trails in the RSPB's Loch Garten Nature Reserve
  • Relax in your hotel by the fire in the charming village of Boat of Garten
Experience the magic of the Cairngorm National Park on a twin centre self-guided walking holiday. Enjoy relaxed hikes among the evergreen forests of ancient Scot's Pine criss-crossed with crystal clear streams and punctuated by tranquil lochs. In the evening settle into your welcoming hotel with the view of the distant Cairngorm Plateau lingering in your thoughts. From Aviemore, the hub of the National Park, discover forest trails around lochs, ruined castles, learn about the park's free-roaming herd of reindeer at The Reindeer Centre, and sample local ale at the Cairngorm Brewery. Follow the Speyside Way to the little Highland village of Boat of Garten to relax by a log fire before savouring a delicious evening meal. Hike the peaceful woodland trails of the RSPB's Loch Garten Nature Reserve or opt for the Highland wildlife safari.

What To Expect

The perfect relaxed winter getaway! Keep getting out on the trail throughout the winter months, while staying in hand-picked 3-4* hotels. Ideal for first-time walkers, the trip is graded easy to moderate, but can be made easier by choosing the shorter walking option on each day. Also great for avoiding any poorer weather days. Enjoy low level forest and valley walks on a mix of way-marked and non way-marked paths, tracks, and short sections on quiet country roads.

Trip Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.

Activity:

Multi Centre Walking | You will spend multiple nights in one or more of the locations on this walking holiday

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travellers, Families, Multi-Generational, Mixed Abilities, Groups > 10, First Timers

As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 5 Years

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Wildlife
  • National Parks & Trails
  • Mountains

Inspiration:

  • New

Grade & Terrain

Ideal for first-time walkers, the trip is graded easy to moderate, but can be made easier by choosing the shorter walking option on each day. Our hand-picked routes follow forest and valley trails on a mix of way-marked and non way-marked paths, tracks, and short sections on quiet country roads. We have designed this trip to allow you to get out and explore the wonderful Highland landscape safely during the winter months without special equipment like ice axes and crampons, which would be required if undertaking winter walking on the mountains.

Navigation

Navigation is easy using the GPS tracks and route notes provided within our Macs Adventure app. The app is free to use and works offline on airplane mode.

Accommodation Information

One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of the accommodation. You will stay in carefully selected 3-4* small hotels. Your room will always have an ensuite or private bathroom. A delicious breakfast is also included. 

Single Rooms

If you require single rooms within your party we will always try and accommodate you subject to availability. A single supplement is payable.

Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinners are not included so you are free to choose from the surrounding options. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or at nearby pubs or restaurants.

Included
  • 4 Nights in hand-picked 3-4* hotels
  • Breakfast at each accommodation
  • Baggage transfer between Aviemore and Boat of Garten on day 3
  • Onward travel transfer from Boat of Garten to Aviemore on day 5
  • Access to maps, GPX tracks and daily route information with the Macs Adventure smartphone navigation app
  • All your trip documents provided digitally through your online Macs “My Account”
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our UK office
Excluded
  • Travel to/from Aviemore
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks & drinks
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Optional taxi to The Reindeer Centre
  • Optional Highland Wildlife Safari from Boat of Garten (subject to availability)
Extras
  • Additional nights before or after the trip
  • Optional Highland Wildlife Safari from Boat of Garten (subject to availability)

When To Go

This trip is available from November to March over the winter, excluding the Christmas period from 16th December 2020 to the 5th January 2021.

Please note that any last minute availability is dependent on covid restrictions and government guidelines that may be in place at your proposed time of travel. Please speak to one of our friendly Destination Specialists if you have any questions or concerns. 

Weather and Climate

The weather in Scotland can be incredibly variable at any time of the year. From one day to the next you could wake to a milder wet day, or a crisp sunny morning with glistening frost carpeting the landscape.

Average temperatures from November to March are from 4 degrees celsius, but can dip to below freezing. Average precipitation is around 16.4 mm per day, with December and January tending to be the wettest and February being the driest on average.

Getting to the Start

Your winter escape begins in the town of Aviemore - the hub of the Cairngorms - served by good road and rail links making it easily accessible.

Arrive in Scotland by air into the well-served international airports of Glasgow or Edinburgh. If wishing to fly into London or Manchester you can fly British Airways or Loganair respectively to reach Inverness Airport.  

If travelling by car from elsewhere in the UK use the A9 to arrive from Glasgow (2 hr 40 min), Edinburgh (2 hr 40 min) or Inverness (40 min). Alternatively, if you are able to take the more environmentally friendly option and travel by Scotrail train travel times are similar to the drive time from Glasgow (2 hr 40 min), Edinburgh (2 hr 50 min) and Inverness (35 min).

Getting from the End

Onward travel from Boat of Garten is assisted by an included 15 minute taxi transfer back to Aviemore, either to collect your car or for your onward journey by Scotrail train to Glasgow (2 hr 40 min), Edinburgh (2 hr 50 min) or Inverness (35 min).

Baggage Transfer

Baggage transfer from Aviemore to Boat of Garten is included in the cost of your holiday. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20 kg per person.

General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes.

This self-guided walking holiday is designed to allow you to get out and make the most of Scotland's wonderful landscapes in the quieter winter season (Nov-Mar). With easy-going optional walks, options to skip point-to-point walking days (with public transport or short taxi rides) this is the perfect introduction to walking in the colder months when the weather can be very variable.

Scotland enjoys a temperate climate for the majority of the year, meaning the weather in winter is variable; from mild rainy days to clearer, cold snaps when the temperature drops below freezing. Low-lying deep valley snow is rarely an issue as the ground temperatures tend not to be low enough to allow deep snow to lie for any length of time. However, it can happen sometimes, and combined with bright blue skies and chilly air it transforms the landscape into a beautiful wintry wonderland. This will add an extra element to your trip - make sure you are comfortable walking on snowy terrain, have the proper warm gear, and bear in mind that walking in snow can take longer before heading out for the day.

As we can't predict the conditions it's up to you to check the forecast for your trip and decide which walks you are comfortable doing in the weather conditions. Most routes are on low level valley paths and are doable in all conditions. On this trip we do not recommend the Craigellchie Nature reserve route extension (as the path is steep and could be unsafe) in snowy or icy conditions. If in doubt do not hesitate to ask your accommodation provider for their opinion, or call the office to speak to a specialist.

Enough about the weather though, travellers don't come from across the world to Scotland for the weather! They come to experience its outstanding hospitality, to lose themselves in its wild and stunning landscapes, and to learn about the history and culture of this small but vibrant nation.

Equipment

No specialist equipment, such as ice axes or crampons, is required on this trip as all walks are low level and don't involve any mountain walking. However, if the weather forecast for your trip is very cold with snow and temperatures below freezing we recommend bringing a pair of strap on ice grippers like YakTrax to give a little extra grip on pavements or any icy patches if you decide to go ahead with the walks. Walking poles are also great for extra balance in snowy/slippery terrain.

You'll also need a waterproof jacket and trousers, a warm insulated jacket (either down or synthetic), with wicking baselayers and a fleece top to wear underneath as well. Warm walking socks along with a hat, neck warmer (e.g. a "Buff"), and warm gloves/mitts will also be required. A small daypack less than 25 litres should be more than ample for your daily walks. You can wear either walking boots or walking shoes, according to your prefernce, as long as they have a good tread for grip. You may also wish to bring gaiters, in the unlikely event of encountering deeper snow in the valleys, and a head torch.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

What happens if I can't walk a stage?
Am I able to take my dog?
What is the best way to get to/from the walk?
When is the best time of year to visit?
What personal equipment do I need?
How far in advance do I need to book?
How fit do I need to be?

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Aviemore and overnight Day 2 Optional visit to The Reindeer Centre and choice of walks 8 miles / 13 km Day 3 Walk to Boat of Garten 6 miles / 9.5 km Day 4 Loch Garten loop walk or optional wildlife safari 7 miles / 11 km Day 5 Transfer to Aviemore and onward travel

Blog Articles

The Macs Adventure Way

  • Tailor-Made Adventures Tailor-Made Adventures
  • Freedom Freedom
  • Book With Confidence Book With Confidence
  • Expertise Expertise
  • Positive Impact Positive Impact
The perfect adventure, built to suit you.
  • Knowledgeable and helpful friendly specialist adventure planners
  • Tailor-make your trip to suit your interests
  • Start on any date that suits you
  • Choose your ideal trip length and difficulty
  • Range of accommodation options
  • Choice of trip styles
Authentic adventure travel experiences on your own terms.
  • Choose your own travel companions
  • Walk, cycle and explore at your own pace
  • Make your own decisions
  • Choose your own path
  • Indulge your passions
Feel secure in making the right choice for your precious adventure time.
  • 14,000+ unbiased trip & service reviews
  • Feefo Gold Award 2019
  • 25,000+ travellers trust us each year
  • As featured in the Guardian, National Geographic Traveller, and more
  • Founder owned & operated since 2003
  • 100+ passionate team members across the US, UK & Europe
  • 100% Financial Protection
You can be confident that every detail of your holiday has been expertly planned.
  • Meticulously planned adventures
  • Quality, hand-picked accommodation
  • Seamless and reliable arrangements
  • Comprehensive trip information & insider tips
  • Detailed maps, route notes and mobile GPS app
  • Helpful 24/7 support should you need it
Travel the right way, and make a positive impact.
  • Travel responsibly
  • Explore off the beaten track
  • Support locally owned businesses
  • Engage with local communities
  • Minimise your impact
  • Maximise the benefit of your travel
  • Challenge yourself & grow