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22 Nov 2021

Winter at its finest

A woman dressed in full winter gear stands almost at the summit of a snow-covered mountain, looking down towards a ridge path, with the glen far below. The sky is bright blue and the snow is glistening.
Buachaille Etive Beag, Glencoe | Image: Emily Bryce
From snow-clad peaks to coastlines teeming with wildlife, the very best of the season can be seen across the National Trust for Scotland’s places.

Mar Lodge Estate NNR

More snow falls on the Cairngorms than on any other part of the UK, making it one of the most reliable places for experienced walkers to enjoy classic winter mountaineering conditions. There’s plenty of adventure to be found on the high peaks of Mar Lodge Estate – among the 15 Munros are four of the UK’s five highest mountains. Down in the glens, the Linn of Dee Trail is a straightforward 15-minute waterfall walk while the Glen Lui Trail takes you through the pinewoods with wonderful views of the mountains above.

Explore Mar Lodge Estate

A group of walkers make their way down a snow-covered hillside towards a wide glen. A frozen-looking river snakes through the glen, where there are also pockets of pine woodland in the distance. Tall snow-covered mountains rise in the background, against a blue sky.
Walkers in Glen Derry

St Abb’s Head NNR

On a blustery day, wrap up warm and head to the coast for a spot of wave-watching. St Abb’s Head is a stunning place for it; the frothing waters bounce off the cragged cliffs while you breathe in the fresh sea air. Come early in the season to see the grey seals which breed here in the autumn and early winter. Their pups are independent from three weeks old and the colony heads back out to sea in the last weeks of the year. Stay back and admire them from a distance (please keep dogs on a short lead), then enjoy a stroll along one of our three trails.

Explore St Abb’s Head

A view looking down from the cliff top onto large grey seals and their pups, lying on a stony beach on a little bay surrounded by tall, rugged cliffs. The frothy waves crash against the rocks on the shoreline.
Grey seals on the beach at St Abb’s Head | Image: Laurie Campbell

Killiecrankie and Linn of Tummel

The wooded enclaves surrounding the rivers Garry and Tummel offer gentle shelter from the full bite of winter. But the coldest of weather can also bring out the most enchanting of wildlife. The River Garry at the Pass of Killiecrankie can freeze over after several days of sub-zero temperatures, becoming a winter wonderland. If you’re very lucky, you might spot an otter running along the river ice. But it’s always worth keeping your eyes open for animal tracks in the mud or snow – as well as for the otters, pine martens, red squirrels and roe deer who make their homes here.

Explore Killiecrankie

Explore Linn of Tummel

A view taken from almost ground level looking out across a wide river, which is almost completely frozen over. Large stones are at the edges in the foreground, with cracked patterns of ice linking them together.
The frozen river at Killiecrankie

Glencoe NNR

On a blue-sky day with snow on the tops, there’s nowhere more stunning than Glencoe. Climbers and mountaineers come for the challenging winter ascents; photographers are drawn by the sheer beauty of the place. You don’t need to get up on the peaks to enjoy it – the mountains look spectacular from the roadside and there are plenty of options for low-level walks. Whooper swans, dippers and goldeneye ducks can be seen at Loch Achtriochtan. Elsewhere, look out for red deer, which come down from the hills in winter to find food in the glen.

Explore Glencoe

A little girl stands on a wooden bridge, looking over the railing below. The bridge and ground is covered in snow, and the tall mountains of Glencoe rise behind, forming a brilliant contrast against the bright blue sky.
Winter in Glencoe | Image: Emily Bryce

Crathes Castle and Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire

The historical castles of Aberdeenshire always look majestic, but when winter carries snow to the north-east, it brings with it an extra dusting of magic. Crathes and Drum will open at weekends during winter this year, with Castle Fraser open until the end of December. After exploring the fascinating and atmospheric interiors, wrap up warm for a stroll in the grounds. Red squirrels are often seen in the ancient oak forest at Drum and on the waymarked trails at Crathes, where you may also be lucky enough to witness the noisy hubbub of a flurry of long-tailed tits.

Explore Crathes Castle

Explore Drum Castle

A view of the long Victorian wing of Drum Castle in winter, with snow covering the ground. A woman and child walk handing hands along the snow-covered path outside.
Drum Castle in winter

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