Duration: 5 Days / 4 Nights From £3,000
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Trip created by Rachael Gavan
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Imagine snuggling up together with a warming dram, the crackling fire chasing the last of the icy outdoor air away. After a day outside exploring the charms of the winter highlands, you have definitely earned this.
Embrace the stillness of the winter landscapes, the rich smell of the evergreen pine forests, the sparkle of ice crystals and cracking of frozen puddles under your feet. As you explore the Cairngorms National Park you may catch glimpses of the local wildlife wearing their winter coats and marvel at the incredible star-strewn skies that seem to go on forever.
Experience true Scottish hospitality during this luxury Highland getaway.
Although the above itinerary is already a fabulous complete trip, we know that everyone is different. Maybe you also want to experience a tutored chocolate tasting or explore a coastal castle while you are here. Or dial up the adventure with a winter wild swimming experience. From guided winter skills or bushcraft and survival days, there is something for everyone. Create a customised trip that is specially tailored just for you.
See below for more details of the options or get in touch with us here at the office, we would love to chat with you and help you build your perfect adventure. You can also visit our Winter in Scotland page to help answer some of your questions about this time of year, for instance, what’s the weather like, if you can see the Northern Lights, things to do, what food is in season, and much much more.
Make your way to your accommodation within the Cairngorms National Park, your home for the next four nights. This afternoon you’ll settle in and enjoy a relaxing deep tissue or hot stone massage. The perfect way to start your trip. This evening enjoy a welcoming drink as you admire the varied artwork in the bar of your flamboyant and unique hotel.
Meet your guide at your accommodation this morning before stepping out to explore the estate of the Royal Family’s beloved Highland residence, Balmoral. Enjoy the quiet of the winter months as you explore these trails together through the trees and discover the unique Royal memorial cairns. Afterwards, if the castle is open you can take a tour and see the ballroom full of family artefacts.
Tonight you will have an early dinner and, if the sky is clear, we head out after dark to enjoy the crisp, clear night sky where the stars never seem to end. Scotland has some of the largest expanses of dark sky in Europe so the number of stars visible, even with the naked eye, can be absolutely breathtaking. When you are wrapped up cosy with a hot drink you can spend hours enjoying the glorious celestial show on display. If you are really lucky you may even catch a glimpse of the elusive ‘Northern Lights’! (B, L)
This morning you will be met by your guide and head off to hike around a sparkling loch which sits in the shadow of atmospheric Lochnagar. This mountain was immortalised in verse by Lord Byron, including the line “I sigh for the valley of dark Lochnagar”.
In the afternoon enjoy a tour and tasting at the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, which was issued a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria in 1848. You may also have a chance to stop and see Crathie Kirk, the tiny church that is the regular place of worship for the Royal family when they are in residence at Balmoral Castle. (B, L)
Walk details: 12.5km//7.75 miles | 170m/ 558ft ascent | approx. 3.5 hours
After breakfast, you and your guide will head out for a relaxing hike in this beautiful landscape. There are lots of options to choose from and together with your guide, you will pick what suits the weather and your preferred level of challenge for today. As you walk together you’ll learn about the history and the local winter activities of this area.
After lunch, you will be collected from your hotel by a landrover and head off to explore the wild glen of a local estate which sits in the heart of Britain’s largest nature reserve. Make sure you take your camera and keep your eyes open for the abundant local wildlife. You may spot mountain hares in their white winter coats, or the rusty red colour of the local deer herds. (B, L)
Enjoy a hearty Scottish breakfast before you depart for your onward journey. (B)
This holiday is based in the luxurious and unique 5* Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar. Here you can enjoy genuine Scottish hospitality, relax in comfort and enjoy the inspiration of your artist-influenced surroundings. Accommodation is in double, twin or family bedrooms.
Breakfast is included each morning.
Lunches are included on your guided days. On your self guided days you are free to choose from the local cafes and delis.
Dinners are not included so that you are free to relax and choose options that work best for you. Your guide will not eat with you in the evenings but they will recommend options for dinner that evening and will help you make any necessary reservations.
*Day 1 | Private Art Tour Of The Hotel & Installations
Enjoy a private tour of the major pieces of the extensive art collection in your hotel. Hear the stories behind the unique artwork that is both housed here and the pieces that were commissioned specially and literally painted onto the walls.
*Day 3 | Polar Bear Plunge Wild Swimming Experience
Are you brave enough to try out the delights of winter wild swimming? This challenging pastime has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, and it is easy to see why. The rush of endorphins on entering the water and the tingling high afterwards makes for a memorable day. All finished off with lots of cosy layers and a retreat to a warm cafe for hot drinks and cake of course!
Chocolate Experience & Stories By The Fire
This morning we head to the Southern fringes of the Cairngorms National Park to the beautiful little town of Pitlochry. Here we visit a unique and internationally award winning Chocolate Kitchen, where you will be led on a gourmet chocolate tasting by an expert chocolatier and learn about how these delights are created. After lunch in a traditional pub, settle in by the fire with a drink as a local storyteller regales you with Scottish myths and tales of the past.
From our centrally located accommodation, we can go where the weather and snow conditions are best. Hike into this wilderness and learn essential ice axe and crampon winter techniques from our experienced and qualified guides. At the end of the day relax by the fire and reflect on your new skills. This is the perfect active winters day.
With our bushcraft day, we head into the pine forests where our skilled guides teach you essential bushcraft skills which will enhance your knowledge and understanding of this environment. Fully immerse yourself in the wilderness – make a fire, forage and prepare wild foods and make your own winter shelter.
Coastal Castle Exploration
Today you and your guide head East to the coastline and the iconic Dunnottar Castle. This romantic and haunting ruin is wonderfully photogenic and was once the home of one of the most powerful families in Scotland. Explore the quaint fishing harbour town and before you go, make sure that you leave time to treat yourself to an extravagant sundae at the flamboyant Aunty Betty’s on the promenade. This fun kitsch ice cream parlour is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
At Your Own Pace
On this adventure you will be accompanied by a Wilderness Scotland hiking guide for several days, who will be able to suggest and lead you on a range of hikes from gentle low level rambles to challenging days visiting remote summits. Just let them know what type of hike you would like to do and they will be ready!
On the other days of the trip you will self guided and can explore at whatever pace you feel comfortable.
Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 2 review(s) of Self-Drive – Winter Highland Cosy Cairngorms
Every client receives a feedback survey when they return from their guided, self guided or tailor made holiday with us. Once completed the review is published on our website just as soon as our database updates. The little touches and details are important to us and where issues are raised we make positive changes to our trips to improve your experience.
That’s why we read each of our client’s reviews and although we don’t respond to all of them, if it’s glowing feedback then we get the satisfaction of helping to make your holidays truly memorable.
Reviewed on 12/02/2020
Age: 70 - 80
Trip Date: 29/01/2020
Trips Taken: 10
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
James adjusted the walks perfectly to our fitness level and chose things that interested us. He was very well prepared; we couldn't have had a better guide.
Our Cozy Cairngorms trip gave us all we had been promised. We loved the Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar, the massage on the first afternoon was just what we needed after our walk, and the afternoon with Katie very interesting and enjoyable.
Reviewed on 10/02/2020
Age: 60 - 70
Trip Date: 29/01/2020
Trips Taken: 9
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
I kind of hate to repeat myself but team Wilderness is an excellent team and always meet my expectations: Quick, sharp, kind, friendly etc
Had done Royal Deeside tour once with a group and now on this private trip I returned to places I remembered but not exactly where - now I got them on my map!
It's hard to beat Fife Arms - excellent hotel, lovely rooms, very friendly staff - always ready to help. And we both loved their fire places!
James fully lived up to our expectations: open minded, friendly, showed initiative - we're not the easiest since we've been in Scotland so many times and seen so much - but James was flexible and always came up with new ideas of what to do. Loved his sense of humour too and of course his knowledge of local wild life.
Super trip and so glad that it was made possible. Loved to be in Scotland this time of year and we had excellent weather. And we arrived 29 jan and toured with you but then we continued to Ballater and walked another 3 days (seven Bridges, Sgor Buidhe and Loch Muick circuit) and then to Inverurie where we walked from Pittodrie house (several walks around Bennachie) so we only returned home yesterday - blown by the wind! But another succes story!! Will be back in Scotland 2 april.