By Gabbi Armstrong
Communications Project Manager for the North Coast 500
Published: 8th November 2018

Winter Adventure

Photo: By Hamlet Mountaineering

Don’t let the change in season discourage you from getting out and about to enjoy the great outdoors in the North Highlands. While summer brings longer days, lighter evenings and warmer temperatures, the winter season opens up a whole world of activities that can be enjoyed by adventure-seekers, even when the temperature drops. In this blog post, we’ll share our top tips for a winter adventure along the North Coast 500.

Walking and hiking

Opportunities to walk and hike abound along the North Coast 500. With 37 Munros, 43 Corbetts (mountains of 2,500 feet, or 762 metres) and 38 Grahams (mountains of 2,000 feet, or 762 metres), hill walking is incredibly popular in the North Highlands for a very good reason. Many of these spectacular peaks can be viewed from the winding roads, as well as many marlyns, humps, tumps and simms… people do get very into their hill bagging lists!

In the winter of 2013/2014, Mountain Leader Will Copestake completed a full round of the Munros in brutal winter conditions. In the winter of 2016/2017 he undertook a similar challenge and completed all of the Corbetts. In this post, he shares some of the lessons in mountain safety he’s learned from his time in the Scottish mountains.

Photo: Hamlet Mountaineering, alone in the hills

While the mountains are amazing to explore at any time of year, our first tip for staying safe on the peaks is to always hire a guide if you aren’t an experienced hill walker. As well as ensuring your safety, scaling these mountains with someone who has in-depth knowledge of the area will help you get the very most from the experience. If bagging a Torridon Munro is a must, hire a guide with Torridon Outdoors – these passionate, enthusiastic and fully-qualified instructors offer fun tuition designed to help develop your independent mountaineering skills.

For general walking and hiking along the west coast, we recommend Hamlet Mountaineering, in Achiltibuie. For adventure seekers in the east, Chris at Liquid Footprint’s (in Dingwall) wealth of hill walking knowledge can help you conquer that peak.

Winter skills

For a more in-depth experience in the North Highlands, why not book a place on Liquid Footprints Winter Skills course? Dates for 2019 have now been released, so book your place today and enjoy a truly unique experience in the wilds of Scotland. As well as the Winter Skills course, which teaches techniques such as crampon skills and avalanche awareness, Liquid Footprints also offers a Snow Hole Adventure package, which includes an evening meal, breakfast, lunch and hot drinks, plus all equipment and tuition. If you’ve ever fancied building your own palace this is the place to learn how!

Photo: Liquid Footprints

Canoeing and kayaking

Getting out onto the water is great during summer, but still feasible in winter! Canoeing and kayaking remain popular choices throughout the North Highlands. Kayak Summer Isles, based in Achiltibuie, allows you to access the inaccessible – whether for a single trip, or as part of a multi-day guided adventure. Hamlet Mountaineering, too, offers a range of canoeing and sea kayaking trips where you can spot wildlife and explore the rugged north-west coast of Scotland from a completely different perspective.

Photo: Hamlet Mountaineering

Other winter activities

White water rafting, disc golf and paintball? Count us in! Although a short distance away from the main North Coast 500 route, Ace Adventures & Hideaways is more than worth the journey. From their base by Forres, in Moray, this fun-filled adventure company offers some of the best white water rafting in the UK. Take a trip through the rivers Findhorn, Tay and Tummel, safe in the knowledge that all tuition and equipment hire is included.

Disc golf is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and for good reason – it can be incredibly addictive! Ace Adventures has three, nine-hole disc golf courses, perfect for disc golf beginners and professionals alike. To extend your adventure break, why not opt to stay overnight in one of Ace Adventures’ on-site Shepherd’s Huts for a unique, luxurious glamping experience?

Adventure-seekers can also enjoy paintball year-round at Ace Adventures & Hideaways or at Wildwoodz Paintball and Lazertag Park on the Black Isle.

Photo: Ace Adventures & Hideaways

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