Photo: The Cuillin Ridge from Sligachan on Skye
The clocks have changed but its still ages till Christmas. Time to start thinking about a wee winter adventure then. It can be an amazing time of year to visit Scotland, quiet, relaxing and completely devoid of the hustle and bustle of the summer.
One of the best kept secrets on the festival circuit is the Cromarty Film Festival. It’s a small, intimate event that involves the whole community. The opening night in December will see Scottish Short films projected onto the side of the lighthouse that guests can enjoy with mulled wine while keeping warm by a bonfire. The Black Isle is fantastic at this time of year, it is when the locals let their hair down and relax after a busy holiday season, the cosy pubs and friendly atmosphere are testament to this. You can still spot the dolphins at Chanonry Point and you won’t have to queue for a table at any of the renowned places to eat. Seashell is a traditional stone built cottage right in the heart of Cromarty and perfect for a quick getaway for a couple or family.
For adventurous walkers then The Highlands has a lot to offer winter visitors. Midges, often the ruination of a day on the hill are non-existent, you can almost guarantee the hills to yourself and the spectacular snow dusted peaks are truly the stuff of dreams. Added precautions are needed and the high peaks are best left to the more experienced but even the easiest of walks can be transformed into a challenging and rewarding expedition with the addition of a few inches of snow. Taigh Glas is a perfect romantic retreat for couples, after a bracing winters walk what could be better than coming back to a wood burning stove a quality dram and views over the Torridon mountains.
When the conditions are good then a days skiing or snowboarding in Scotland can stand alongside anywhere in Europe. The resorts at Cairngorm and the Lecht have seen fabulous improvements in recent years and are especially good for beginners and families. For those more experienced then the terrain around here is well suited to back country ski touring. To get away from the crowds and carve turns in fresh snow, miles from anywhere must surely be high on every enthusiasts bucket list. Thyme Cottage is snuggled away in the forest but is still just 5 miles from Aviemore, the snowsports capital of Scotland that has brilliant facilities, snow schools and equipment rental.
Scotland in winter is also about the shopping. The continental Christmas markets in the centre of Edinburgh and Glasgow have proved to be such a success that they have spread all over Scotland so you can now have the benefit of an authentic Christmas shopping experience without having to venture into the big city. As part of the annual City of Perth Winter Festival, two markets will run simultaneously, offering festive shoppers the ideal opportunity to take advantage of the finest crafts and delicacies Perthshire has to offer. The Christmas Design Market and the Christmas Craft market will both feature a huge variety of stalls, selling everything from art and photography to clothing, textiles and jewellery offering visitors an opportunity to purchase unique gifts and handmade souvenirs. Mill Cottage is a short drive away but is also handy for shopping trips to House of Bruar.
The ferry services to the Western Isles have improved remarkably in the last few years with winter delays and cancellations an exception rather than the norm. It’s a bracing trip to undertake in turbulent conditions but it is possible to experience the awe inspiring weather of the west coast without a boat trip at all. Skye roads are almost always accessible in winter and with the bridge connecting it to the mainland you need not fret about getting to your holiday home. Teangue House is just half an hour’s drive from the bridge and commands dramatic views over the sea to Knoydart. Underfloor heating and a wood burning stove ensure that whatever the conditions outside you will still be cosy and warm.
Call LHH now to book your last minute winter escape. Availability is good and there are some serious bargains to be had.