Winter Warmers

15 November 2018

whisky fire

It’s not quite the depths of winter yet but as you scrape the windscreen of your car you can’t help but notice that its time to turn the heating up a bit. Of course, the most obvious way to keep warm is to be active, even in the middle of winter the Scottish mountains will host hill walkers, mountain bikers and skiers, but that’s not for everyone. For some, the appeal of a winter holiday is relaxing and taking it easy with a great book rather than scaling a snow-capped peak, so here are our top tips for keeping warm on holiday this year as the temperature drops outside.

A hot tub is never more welcome than in the depths of winter. If you can brave that very brief moment between disrobing and easing yourself in then you are really in for a treat. Even if you are surrounded by snow and ice you can still have the feeling of being outside, breathing fresh winter air and really appreciating your surroundings while still feeling cosy. Stargazing is at its best in winter, especially in the Highlands where if you are lucky you could also be treated to the mesmerizing sight of the Northern Lights as you look up. If television is more your thing then the hot tub at Meall Mo Chridhe has one built in so you don’t have to go inside to watch the Queen’s Speech or that all important festive football match!

Hot tubs are very much a modern convenience in Scotland but for something more traditional you can’t beat a peat fire. It's something that has been comforting generations of Highlanders and Islanders since forever; that same simple romantic pleasure of watching flames dancing as the room gets permeated with the distinctive peat smell. A peat fire is a focal point as well as something which just warms you. Atmospheric, with a timeless primitive quality that you would never experience spending an evening playing computer games, it is something to enjoy.  Croft 23 has a real fire where all the family can gather round on a winter evening but also has the luxury of a games room where the kids can retire to, for added adult peace.

If you do have to venture outside it goes without saying that you need to wrap up well and the absolute best way to keep the elements at bay is with a Harris Tweed coat. As well as being stylish, wrapping up in one is like getting a great big hug. If you would rather sport a traditional waterproof, you can still accessorize it with an authentic hand-made Harris Tweed scarf and gloves. On the Isles of Harris and Lewis you are never too far away from a Harris Tweed Mill. If you have made a commitment to buy local this Christmas then a visit to one is the perfect way to support the community as well as pick up a unique memento of a Hebridean holiday. Tigh Bhisa Blackhouse is a modern update of an old-fashioned croft house and is conveniently located for all the attractions and shopping in Stornoway and the Isle of Lewis.

Another tried and tested method for keeping the winter chill at bay is a hip flask. With the rising cost of going to pubs, these have suddenly found themselves fashionable again. No longer the preserve of elderly aristocrats or the ghillie, a younger generation of hipsters have now discovered the joy of this quintessentially Victorian accessory, with more and more filling them with local gin instead of whisky. If a wee spot of single malt straight from the bottle doesn’t do the job when you are out and about, then a hot toddy when you get home should do the trick. Traditionalists would add only honey and hot water, these days however a hot toddy can resemble an exquisite cocktail with ingredients such as lemon, cloves and cinnamon. Whichever way you decide to serve it, a toddy is a seasonal treat, to be sipped slowly and savoured. Where better to indulge than somewhere like Saltwinds on Skye. It’s only a short drive to the Talisker distillery and with local foods available nearby or delivered to the house, a relaxing evening with glass in hand and some local delicacies is the order of the day.