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Things to do in winter

A family walks in snowy woods

Winter in Scotland

Winter in Scotland lasts from around mid-November to early March. It’s a time for crackling fires, warm winter coats, festive cheer and flasks full of hot drinks. With fewer visitors at this time of year, our properties are often much quieter – if you’re lucky, you might even have the whole place to yourself.

Wherever you go in Scotland in winter, it’s a good idea to wrap up warm. If you’re going hiking, thermals are a good idea too. The further north you go, the colder and icier it gets, so take care when driving, check for any road closures before heading off, and make sure you're properly equipped if you want to climb any hills. And remember there are fewer daylight hours, so if you’re going to visit any of our places, check the opening times.

Properties open for winter

Family days out

5. There’s no stopping the fun at Weehailes Playpark at Newhailes House & Gardens. Musselburgh’s popular adventure playground is open through the winter, whatever the weather, so grab your snowsuits and mittens and set your little ones loose to climb, zip and scamper their way around the park. 

6. Take a trip to Killiecrankie after the snow has fallen and see how this historic wooded gorge is transformed into a magical winter world. Children will think they’ve stumbled into Narnia as they track red squirrel and pine marten prints through the snow, see the ice breaking on the River Garry and hear the babbling song of the dipper, a bird that starts its courtship in winter.

7. There are lots of family-friendly winter walks to choose from at the House of Dun & Montrose Basin Nature Reserve, ranging from the easy-going 1 mile Lady Augusta route to the moderate 2.5 mile Woodland Walk. Every winter, Montrose Basin is home to thousands of pink-footed geese fleeing frozen Iceland and Greenland, and there’s an easy walk to our bird hide if you want a closer look.

The Pass of Killiecrankie in winter.
The Pass of Killiecrankie in winter.

Winter wildlife

8. We’re on otter watch at The Hermitage. Among the sparkling ice crystals on the rocks and trees, merry wanderers might spot signs of otters at play. Snow chutes show you where they’ve been belly-sliding, and the remains of salmon and trout on the rocks by the River Braan are signs of feeding.

9. Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve is rich in wildlife all year round. At the foot of the slopes you’ll find foxes hunting for voles, but to spot the resident mountain hares and ptarmigans that have turned white to hide from predators you’ll need to climb higher up. When the day’s over you’ll be ready for a fireside whisky.

European Otter


10. The craggy landscape of St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve is a haven for walkers and wildlife lovers. At this time of year you’ll often see seal pups relaxing on the beach – they're wonderful creatures to watch, but make sure you give them lots of space and keep any dogs on the lead.

11. Winter’s a great time to try and spot Scotland’s iconic red deer at Glencoe National Nature Reserve, as the snow on the mountains sends them down to the lower slopes to graze for food. You can also see some unique birdlife around the estate – just head to the visitor centre for the best tips and wildlife routes.

Winter events

12. Get in the festive spirit at Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park. Our spectacular Christmas at the Castle event lasts for a whole month, with sparkling decorations, music and activities. Kids can enjoy an elf scavenger hunt and write letters to Santa, and there are Christmas-themed historical tours of the castle. 

13. Want to keep your garden in good shape? Sign up for our fantastic winter gardening workshops at Threave Garden & Estate, the home of the School of Heritage Gardening. Learn how to prune old fruit trees and how to make your own plant stakes using heritage techniques.

14. Calling all culture vultures! Pollok House is hosting a wide variety of events and exhibitions throughout the winter, including an exhibition of Goya’s ‘Los Disparates’, a Christmas craft fair, family-friendly performances of Cinderella, and some spooky Victorian storytelling.

We’re hosting lots of different events across the country this winter. To find out what’s on near you, search for your favourite Trust places.


Top Christmas events

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