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6 Reasons to go Winter Walking in Scotland

Posted on Jan 07, 2016 by David Russell

Winter Walking in Scotland offers hikers and photographers astonishing sights.

Wilderness Scotland’s resident hiking and photography guide David Russell explains in pictures why winter is the best time of year for grabbing your boots and camera and heading out into the wild places.

I get out winter walking at least several times each week with my boots and camera, and I hate it if I think that I’m missing something. The Highlands are such a beguiling place – there is always something spectacular happening if you know where to look. From a normal day the weather can suddenly change to a dramatic burst of light across the mountains – a timeless sight without end or beginning. Then there are the days that dawn bright and clear, and you simply know that today is a day to be out in the wild.

The shorter daylight hours have their advantages too. You can get up at a normal time, have breakfast and be out just in time to catch the sunrise. Then you set off to hike all day (why do freshly made sandwiches taste even better outside, by the way?) and then get in place to watch the sunset. That makes it just the right time for dinner, enjoying the sensation of warming up with a head full of new memories. Then it’s off to sit by the fire, read a book and enjoy a dram of the good stuff. Magic.

If that’s not enough to get you out the door, then here are my top 6 reasons why Winter Walking in Scotland is simply the best.


1. Golden Light, all day long.

Winter Walking in Scotland

As the sun stays low in the sky during the winter it means that when the sun shines every hour looks like the hour before sunset. Our high latitude and moisture rich air helps to increase this effect so Scotland is justly famous for the amazing quality of light.

2. Astounding colours.

Winter Walking in Scotland

There is nothing as glorious as the hills on a winter’s day. When the sun is low in the sky it brings out the colours of the landscape in a way that must be seen to be believed.

3. Snow covered mountains.

Winter Walking in Scotland

Whether venturing high or staying low, the mountains are incredible.

4. Sunrise and Sunset.

Winter Walking in Scotland

Having a shorter day means you can be blown away without getting up early or staying up late. There is an extraordinary degree of satisfaction in seeing every bit of daylight from start to finish.

5. The Stars and Aurora

Winter Walking in Scotland

Nothing beats lying on your back watching the Merry Dancers flash across the face of the Milky Way. Recent years have given us great conditions for viewing, and with a sparse population there is very little light pollution to interfere with your view.

  • One of the best places for seeing the northern lights is in the impossibly clear skies of Scotland’s north west.

6. Frozen lochs and melting frosts.

Winter Walking in Scotland

With the temperature dipping below freezing overnight you can find incredible spectacles, whether it is freezing or melting.

Feel the crunch of snow under your boots as you are walking through the frozen forests of the Cairngorms National Park.

Feeling inspired to go out for a wintery hike? Read Top 5 Scottish Winter Walks: Lairig Ghru for some ideas to get started.

About the author

David Russell

I discovered the magic of the outdoors while studying Physics at the University of St Andrews. After graduating I decided to follow my dreams of freedom in the hills and rivers, and trained as an outdoor instructor. After several years of guiding with Wilderness Scotland I moved into the role of Adventure Consultant, but I still get out when I can to share my special places with adventurers from all walks of life.

Read more articles by David | View David's Profile

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