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Where to go Winter Hillwalking in Scotland

Winter Hillwalking in Scotland: Where to Explore and How to Stay Safe

Scotland's winter landscapes offer a breathtaking canvas for hillwalking, from the rugged beauty of Glen Coe to the expansive wonders of the Cairngorms and the challenges of the Isle of Skye.

But venturing into these wild places during winter requires careful planning and a keen understanding of safety precautions. Here's a guide to where to go hillwalking this winter in Scotland, along with tips for a safe and rewarding experience:

Glen Coe:

Glen Coe is a classic destination for winter hillwalking, renowned for its dramatic landscapes. Iconic peaks like Buachaille Etive Mòr offer a mix of accesible ascents and challenging ridges. However, the terrain can be demanding, so ensure you have winter-specific gear, including crampons and ice axes. Check avalanche forecasts, as this area is known for avalanche risks.

The Glen Coe and Black Mount area in Scotland is home to several Munros, which are mountains with a height of at least 3,000 feet (914 meters). Here are the Munros located in this region:

Buachaille Etive Beag (Stob Dubh): Also known as the "Little Buachaille," it has two Munro summits, Stob Dubh and Stob Coire Raineach.

Buachaille Etive Mòr: Often referred to as the "Great Herdsman of Etive," it has two Munro summits, Stob Dearg and Stob na Bròige.

Stob a' Choire Odhair: Located in the Black Mount region, this Munro offers panoramic views.

Stob Ghabhar: Another Munro in the Black Mount area, known for its rugged terrain.

Creise: Although it is often paired with Meall a' Bhuiridh as a single hike, Creise is considered a Munro on its own.

Meall a' Bhuiridh: Usually combined with Creise, this Munro is part of the Black Mount range.

These Munros in the Glen Coe and Black Mount area are popular among hillwalkers and mountaineers for their stunning scenery and challenging terrain.

The Cairngorms:

The Cairngorms National Park is a winter wonderland with a range of hillwalking options. Explore the Northern Corries or tackle the Cairn Gorm summit. Be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions and extreme cold. Navigation skills are essential in this expansive area.

Cairngorms National Park in Scotland is home to numerous Munros. Here is a list of the Munros located within or adjacent to Cairngorms National Park:

Ben Macdui: As Scotland's second-highest peak, Ben Macdui is a prominent Munro with stunning views across the Cairngorms.

Braeriach: Known for its vast plateau, Braeriach is the third-highest Munro in the UK and offers expansive views.

Cairn Toul: This Munro is situated near Braeriach and is often combined with it in a hiking route.

Sgòr an Lochain Uaine: Also known as "The Angel's Peak," it is often traversed as part of the Cairn Toul-Braeriach route.

Cairn Gorm: The Cairn Gorm summit is accessible via the Cairn Gorm Mountain railway, making it one of the more accessible Munros.

The Devil's Point: This Munro is typically ascended from the Linn of Dee car park and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

Beinn Bhrotain: Often hiked along with Monadh Mor, these two Munros are situated in the southern reaches of the Cairngorms.

Monadh Mor: Monadh Mor is adjacent to Beinn Bhrotain and is usually hiked together with it.

Beinn a' Chaorainn: Located near the Glenshee ski area, this Munro offers a variety of routes for ascent.

Beinn Mheadhoin: This Munro is known for its remote location and a beautiful lochan at its summit.

Ben Avon: Ben Avon's summit plateau is one of the most extensive in the Cairngorms.

Derry Cairngorm: Often hiked from the Linn of Dee car park, Derry Cairngorm offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Ben Vrackie: While not part of the main Cairngorms massif, Ben Vrackie is a popular Munro located near Pitlochry.

These Munros in Cairngorms National Park provide a range of hiking and mountaineering experiences, from remote and challenging ascents to more accessible peaks with breathtaking vistas of the Scottish Highlands. Always check current conditions and plan your hikes accordingly for safety.

The Isle of Skye:

Skye's Cuillin Ridge offers some of the most challenging winter mountaineering in the UK. It's advisable only for experienced mountaineers, as conditions can be treacherous. Prioritise safety, hire a local guide, and be prepared for rapidly changing weather. The rewards are unparalleled views and a sense of accomplishment.

The Isle of Skye, located on the west coast of Scotland, is known for its dramatic landscapes and challenging mountains. There are several Munros on the nearby mainland and in the Cuillin Hills, which are a breathtaking part of Skye's overall mountain experience. Here is a list of some of the Munros in the Cuillin Hills and the nearby mainland:

Black Cuillin (on the Isle of Skye):

Sgùrr Alasdair: The highest peak on the Isle of Skye, offering challenging mountaineering opportunities.

Sgùrr Dearg: Known for the famous Inaccessible Pinnacle (a Munro Top), a technical rock climb.

Sgùrr na Banachdich: A prominent peak in the Cuillin Hills with spectacular views.

Sgùrr nan Gillean: Another iconic peak with a sharp summit and a challenging climb.

Red Cuillin (on the Isle of Skye):

The Red Cuillin consists of lower, less rugged mountains and is often considered a separate range from the Black Cuillin. Some of the notable peaks include:Mainland Munros (Near Skye):

Glamaig: The highest peak in the Red Cuillin, known for its distinctive shape.

Mainland Munros (Near Skye):

While not on Skye itself, these Munros are located on the nearby mainland and can be part of a Skye-based adventure:

Sgùrr Thuilm: Located in the Glenfinnan area, accessible by a scenic boat ride or hike.

Sgùrr nan Coireachan: Also in the Glenfinnan area and often hiked together with Sgùrr Thuilm.

Sgùrr a' Mhàim: Near the town of Glen Nevis and often climbed as part of the Ring of Steall.

Sgùrr Eilde Mòr: Part of the Mamores range, located near Glen Coe.

Am Bodach: Another Munro in the Mamores range, often hiked in conjunction with Sgùrr a' Mhàim.

Glamaig: The highest peak in the Red Cuillin, known for its distinctive shape.

The Cuillin Hills offer some of the most challenging and rewarding mountaineering experiences in the UK. Exploring these peaks requires technical skills, and it's recommended to be well-prepared, with knowledge of rock climbing and navigation. Additionally, Skye's unique terrain and unpredictable weather make safety and preparedness paramount when embarking on any mountaineering adventure in the area.

Ben Nevis:

As the UK's highest peak, Ben Nevis attracts hillwalkers year-round. In winter, it transforms into a snow-covered giant. Ensure you're equipped for extreme cold, and be aware of the potential for avalanches on its slopes. The Mountain Track is the most accessible route, but experienced winter hillwalkers might tackle the CMD Arete.

Amidst the rugged Highlands of Scotland stands Ben Nevis, a monolithic giant of the British Isles. Its flanks tell tales of adventure, offering diverse routes to those who dare to scale its heights.

The Mountain Track, the well-trodden path, welcomes novices and enthusiasts alike. As you ascend, the vista unfolds, revealing Glen Nevis below. A challenge that humbles, the Red Burn zigzags up the mountain's heart, revealing a glistening waterfall, nature's reward.

For the more intrepid, the CMD Arete beckons. An exhilarating scramble, it gifts panoramic views of the North Face, a craggy wilderness. Tower Ridge, an icon, demands rock-climbing prowess, an ascent only for the boldest.

Climbers traverse the North Face, a sheer vertical challenge. In winter, a blanket of white transforms Ben Nevis into a realm for ice-climbing, where crampons and ice axes are trusted companions.

At the summit, the reward: vistas that stretch across Scotland's wild beauty. Ben Nevis, a mountain of many faces, a canvas for dreams, and a testament to the spirit of exploration.


The Glenshee Ski Centre offers a variety of winter hillwalking options suitable for different skill levels. Explore Munros like Carn a' Gheoidh or venture further into the Glas Maol area. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and avalanche reports

The Glenshee area in Scotland is known for its excellent skiing and hillwalking opportunities. While there are no Munros (mountains with an elevation of at least 3,000 feet or 914 meters) in the immediate Glenshee area, there are several Munros in the surrounding Cairngorms and Grampian Mountains. Here are some Munros you can access from the Glenshee area

Carn an Tuirc: Located to the northwest of Glenshee Ski Centre, Carn an Tuirc is part of the Cairnwell Munros circuit.

The Cairnwell: Also part of the Cairnwell Munros circuit, it's one of the closest Munros to the Glenshee Ski Centre.

Carn Aosda: The third Munro in the Cairnwell Munros circuit, often hiked together with Carn an Tuirc and The Cairnwell.

Glas Maol: One of the larger Munros in the Glenshee area, known for its broad plateau.

Creag Leacach: Located to the northeast of the Glenshee Ski Centre, it's often hiked along with Glas Maol.

These Munros offer a range of hillwalking experiences, from relatively straightforward ascents to more challenging routes with rugged terrain. While they may not be as high as some of Scotland's tallest peaks, they provide beautiful views and opportunities for adventure in the Glenshee region. Always check current conditions and weather forecasts before heading out, and be prepared for the changing Scottish mountain weather.

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The Mighty Buachaille Etive Mor on a brooding winters day - Breathtaking!

Winter Hillwalking and Mountaineering in Torridon: Scotland's Frosty Wilderness

In the heart of the Scottish Highlands, the Torridon region emerges as a winter wonderland, beckoning adventurers to embrace the icy embrace of its peaks and glens. Winter hillwalking and mountaineering in Torridon offer a unique and exhilarating experience that melds the tranquility of pristine snowscapes with the rugged challenge of the Scottish mountains.

The Majestic Torridon Peaks:

Torridon is renowned for its towering Munros, often shrouded in a cloak of white during the winter months. Peaks like Liathach, Beinn Alligin, and Beinn Eighe present captivating opportunities for those seeking a winter ascent. The crisp, cold air carries the promise of unforgettable vistas and a sense of accomplishment that only scaling these giants can provide.

Challenging Ascents:

Winter hillwalking and mountaineering in Torridon require a special set of skills. Snow and ice transform the landscape, making navigation and route-finding more demanding. Be prepared for steep ascents, challenging terrain, and unpredictable weather conditions that can change in an instant. Proper gear, including crampons and ice axes, is essential for safety.

The Beauty of the Snow-Cloaked Landscape:

As you ascend Torridon's slopes, you'll be enveloped in a world of pristine beauty. Glistening snowfields, frozen lochans, and icicle-clad crags create a serene, almost otherworldly atmosphere. The crunch of snow beneath your boots and the clarity of the wintry air heighten your senses, immersing you in the essence of the season.

Wildlife Encounters:

Torridon's winter landscapes are also a haven for wildlife. Keep an eye out for red deer, ptarmigan, and mountain hares, all of which are adapted to survive in these harsh conditions. Witnessing these creatures in their winter habitat is a special treat for nature enthusiasts.

Safety First:

Safety is paramount when embarking on winter adventures in Torridon. Ensure you have the appropriate skills and knowledge, and consider hiring a local guide if you're less experienced. Check avalanche forecasts [SAIS] and weather conditions, and always let someone know your itinerary. Be flexible and prepared to turn back if conditions deteriorate.

Unforgettable Moments:

Winter hillwalking and mountaineering in Torridon promise moments of solitude, connection with nature, and a deep sense of accomplishment. It's a chance to embrace the wild beauty of the Scottish Highlands in its most pristine and challenging form.

Torridon's Winter Charm:

In Torridon, winter doesn't deter adventurers; it beckons them. It transforms the landscape into a captivating dreamscape and challenges the spirit of exploration. As you navigate its peaks and valleys, you'll find that Torridon's winter charm is not only about conquering mountains but also about forging a profound connection with the untamed wilderness of Scotland.

Safety Tips for Winter Hillwalking

Plan Ahead:

Research your chosen route, check weather forecasts, [MWIS] and monitor avalanche risk reports. Leave a detailed itinerary with someone and stick to it. Be prepared to cancel your trip if the conditions represent an unacceptable level of risk. For example, forecast wind gusts of over 60mph are above and beyond what is safe.

Proper Gear:

Invest in appropriate winter gear, including warm clothing, waterproofs, crampons, ice axes, and a map and compass. Carry emergency equipment like a first-aid kit and a headlamp. You can read all about What to Wear and Pack for Winter Mountaineering in Scotland here.

Navigation Skills:

Familiarize yourself with map and compass navigation. Visibility can deteriorate rapidly in winter, so knowing how to navigate in whiteout conditions is crucial.

Avalanche Awareness:

Understand avalanche risks and how to assess them. Avoid high-risk areas during unstable conditions. Make yourself familiar with the Scottish Avalanche Information Service.

Group Safety:

If you're not experienced in winter hillwalking, consider joining a guided group or hiring a qualified guide. Travel with a companion, and ensure everyone in your group is equipped and skilled for the conditions. You group should have a single leader who also has tested winter hillwalking experience.

Check Daylight Hours:

Winter days are shorter, so plan your hike to ensure you have ample daylight for your chosen route.

Emergency Plan:

Know what to do in case of emergencies, and carry communication devices like a charged mobile phone, and spare batteries. Be sure to insulate your phone from the cold.

Remember that winter hillwalking in Scotland can be both challenging and rewarding. Safety should always be the top priority, and a well-prepared and cautious approach will ensure you have a memorable and safe experience exploring these magnificent landscapes.

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