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    Self Drive
    Winter Highland Explorations

    Duration: 6 Days / 5 Nights

    From £1,785

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    Travel Planning and Advice

    Trip created by Rachael Gavan
    View Rachael's Profile

    Region: Cairngorms and Central Highlands
    Trip Type: Self Drive
    Comfort: Classic
    Confirmed: When 2 Traveller(s) Book
    Deposit From: £446.25 £446.25
    Difficulty: Your Own Pace

    All you need to know about your trip, this essential document is a must for all adventures.

    Download Itinerary

    There is something really special about wilderness adventures in the winter. The quiet of the crisp clear air, sparkling ice crystals and the warmth of a crackling fire to welcome you home.

    We’ve designed a trip based on our favourite winter experience, from wonderfully scenic hikes through sparkling forests to frozen lochs, wildlife encounters. Learn winter hiking skills or get back to basics bush craft, enjoy a foodie workshop or a special distillery visit to warm your heart. You’ll embrace the shorter days and wonder at the star strewn sky. 

    On this trip, you can mix and match activities that suit you and enjoy the perfect trip, experience the beauty of the Scottish Highlands in winter. 

    Embrace the shorter days with their spectacular sunsets, and enjoy cosy evenings discovering the local cultural activities or curled up with a hot drink.

    Upgrade and Customise Your Trip

    Although the above itinerary is already a fantastic complete trip, we know that everyone is different. Maybe you also want to go on a ‘food-safari’, search for Nessie or dial up the adventure with our guided winter skills or bushcraft days… So we have lots of options available for you to add additional days or upgraded afternoon activities and create a customised trip that is specially tailored just for you.

    This trip is based on classic guesthouse accommodation but we can also offer upgraded accommodation throughout.

    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. 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.

    Trip Highlights

    • Enjoy fabulous scenic Winter hiking in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park with an expert guide.
    • Relax and unwind as you cosy up with a hot drink in front of the fire.
    • Gaze in wonder at the endless stars in the clear winter night skies.
    • Enjoy a special wildlife experience as you walk with the Cairngorm Reindeer herd in the hills.
    • Customise the itinerary to create your perfect trip with upgrades and extra days.

    Day by Day Itinerary

    Day 1 – Arrive In The Cairngorms

    Make your way to your accommodation within the Cairngorms National Park, your home for the next five nights. This afternoon, settle in and either cosy in for the night or head out and explore the area. (B)

    Day 2 – Walk With The Local Reindeer Herd

    This morning make your own way to Glenmore and follow a herder up to the lower slopes of the Cairngorms to visit the local Cairngorm reindeer herd in their wintery habitat. This is a really special experience but do wrap up warm and prepare for the wild as the walk takes you just above the tree line! 

    This afternoon, warm up and indulge with a delightful afternoon tea in the Highlands. (B)

    Walk details: This varies depending on the herd location. Can be 45 mins over rough terrain each way.

    Note: The Reindeer Visit may not possible during some days as the herd are free roaming and tours are weather dependant. In this circumstance visit the Highland Wildlife Park for a self drive safari.

    Day 3 – Explore the Ancient Caledonian Pine Forest

    Your guide for the next 3 days will meet you at your accommodation this morning and you will then head out to explore part of the ancient Caledonian Pine forest of Abernethy. The hikes will be tailored to you and your ability but one option will take us past the beautiful Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie. If snow is lying on the ground, we may spot animal tracks or the animals themselves, such as pine martin, which inhabit these forests. If the lochs are frozen try your hand at skimming stones, you will be amazed at the eerie noise it makes! (B, L)

    Walk details: Depends on the Route Chosen

    *Optional Upgrade: Afternoon Woodcarving Session

    Day 4 | Marvels of Whisky & Endless Stars

    Today you head out to explore the heart of whisky country, an area which is home to more than half the distilleries in Scotland. Enjoy one of the many beautiful hikes here, maybe a section of the Speyside Way, a beautiful Long Distance Trail that winds its way through the heart of this renowned Whisky country. As you explore your guide will tell you tales of the history of the ‘water of life’ in this area, both legal and slightly less so! Enjoy lunch in a great traditional local pub before heading to one of the local distilleries for a tour and tasting. 

    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)

    Walk details: Depends on the Route Chosen

    Note: Stargazing Experience is weather dependent and may be rescheduled for the best conditions.

    Day 5 | The Drovers Road & The Faeries Lochan

    This morning you will be met by your guide and travel together towards Glenmore and the starting point of our walk, which takes us over the Ryvoan pass. This was part of an old droving road through to Glenmore forest which has spectacular views of the Cairngorm mountains. Our route passes the unique green coloured ‘Lochain Uaine’ where the faeries wash their clothes.

    Enjoy a cosy stop for a special treat of hot drinks and a hearty lunch in a remote historic bothy. Afterwards, if the weather is clear and you feel adventurous, you could head further up onto the nearby summit to enjoy the expansive views across the Spey Valley. 

    After our walk, relax with a dram at the cosy Pine Marten Bar to celebrate your week of Highland Winter adventures. (B, L)

    * Optional Upgrade: Private Afternoon Tour Of A ‘Closed Door’ Distillery

    Day 6 – Depart

    Enjoy a hearty Scottish breakfast before you depart for your onward journey. (B)

    Self Drive
    Winter Highland Explorations

    To download a PDF copy of our Trip Itinerary, containing full details about this holiday, please complete the form below:

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    Price from: £1,785
    Duration: 6 Days 5 Nights

    What's Included

    Accommodation Read More

    This holiday is based in two traditional Highland Guesthouses where warm welcomes are assured. Here you can enjoy genuine Scottish hospitality and relax in comfort. Accommodation is in double, twin or family bedrooms.

    Accommodation upgrades are available, please get in touch to find out more.

    Meals Read More

    Breakfast is included each morning.

    Lunches are included on your 3 guided days ( days 3,4 & 5) On your self guided days you are free to choose from the many 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.

    Inclusions Read More
    • 5 nights accommodation staying in hand picked traditional Highland guesthouses with breakfast each morning.
    • Reindeer Walk Experience followed by afternoon tea
    • 3 guided days with an expert Wilderness Scotland Guide hiking and exploring the surroundings as per the itinerary.
    • Whisky distillery visit.
    • The services of the Wilderness Scotland team before and during your trip
    • Detailed itinerary, guide book, and map.
    • Route suggestions customised to your preferences and ability levels
    • Expert local suggestions for restaurants and activities.
    Upgrade and Customise Your Trip Read More

    Optional Afternoon Upgraded Activities

    *Day 3 | Afternoon Woodcarving Session

    Spend this afternoon with a local expert who will teach you the fascinating art of green wood carving using an axe and a knife. Learn how to choose a piece of wood and carve it into useful and beautiful items safely. The session takes place in his woodland workshop area, but don’t worry there is a wee wood burning stove and always hot drinks on the go too.

    *Day 5 | Private Afternoon Tour Of A ‘Closed Door’ Distillery

    After today’s hike up to the bothy, take an exclusive and private tour & tasting of the Speyside whisky, Spey. This artisan distillery uses time-honoured traditions to produce a quality whisky and can be visited by special arrangement only.

    Note: This tour is only available on certain days of the week.

    Optional Additional Days

    Glenlivet ‘Food Safari’
    A scenic drive this morning takes us to the Glenlivet hills north of the Cairngorms. Hike across these high and exposed hills before warming up in the afternoon in the welcoming kitchen of food anthropologist and award-winning chef Ghillie Basan. Embark on a food safari of cultures and spices before tucking into your own tasty feast, maybe with a glass of wine.

    Winter Skills
    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.

    Winter Bushcraft
    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.

    Speyside & Moray Exploration
    Experience the culture of Speyside & Moray as we first pay a visit to Knockando Woollen Mill where luxury textiles are made by the craft of carding, spinning and weaving. See skilled craftsmen work with both modern looms and rare antique equipment. During the afternoon visit the Speyside Cooperage and watch first hand as Coopers craft their barrels before stopping for a tour and tasting of the famous Macallan whisky distillery.

    Inverness & Loch Ness
    Add a day to allow time to explore the capital of the highlands and Loch Ness including visits to historic sites.

    Photo Gallery

    Difficulty Grades Explained

    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.

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