Carve some powder in the Cairngorms
You can find snowy slopes very close to home
Skiing in Scotland? It can be done. The resorts may be smaller than their central European counterpart but they offer thrills all the same (at much lower prices). Try Glenshee – about two hours south of Inverness, it’s the largest ski resort in Scotland and boasts a whopping 36 runs. The longest, Glas Maol, has 2km of downhill bliss. The ski season usually kicks off in December, but check the Visit Scotland website for up-to-date conditions.
For after: On your way back to Aberdeen, stop by the Cairngorm Hotel for a post-piste dinner – a known après-ski favourite, its pretty, antler-studded dining room has a chalet feel, and they serve playful takes on fish pie and haggis lasagne.
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Scale an ice wall in Glencoe
Pick your icy adventure in Scotland / Image: Jeff Holmes Photography
Ice climbing may look like a totally mad sport, but anyone can master the basics, especially with the help of the pro wall-scalers at Ice Factor. About two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Glasgow, it offers indoor ice climbing sessions on a 40ft wall, and outdoor sessions when weather permits. Once you’ve got the technique down you can head out with a guide to try your hands (and feet) at scaling icy Highland peaks.
For after: The Alpen Lodge is just as it sounds – a charmingly rickety central Glasgow pub modelled after the mountaintop shacks of Switzerland. The friendly bar staff will keep you merry with ales and warm conversation.
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Ski without snow in Aberdeen
No snow? No problem / Image: Callum Mcgregor Chapman
This giant sports complex is like a mini-alpine resort – just without the snow. Punters can zip down several dry pistes on skis, snowboards or tubes, no white stuff required. Lessons are also offered for skiers of all abilities and ages.
For after: The bar at the Ferryhouse Hotel is all mahogany, black leather and open fires, while the excellent food menu offers rib-sticking grub like moreish mac and cheese or beef stroganoff. Throw a well-curated whisky list on top, and you have a perfectly cosy cold-weather eve.
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Get pulled around by huskies in Blairgowrie
You'll get husky from shouting with glee on a sleigh ride / Image: @Bearhillhusky
Mush! And you’re off on a magical ride with Bowland Trails, a sleigh dog training centre about an hour-and-a-half north of Edinburgh. Owners and head trainers Mary and John are doggo whisperers who coach their beloved pack of 40 Siberian pups to outrace the competition at both national and international competitions. When they’re not in training mode, these speedy canines pull visitors around a 220-acre estate for an exhilarating day out in the Scottish countryside.
For after: The après-ski themed Cold Town House sits right under Edinburgh Castle and has a sprawling heated terrace with panoramic views of Castle Rock. Burrow down in one of their gondola-themed booths – complete with soft blankets – and chow down on a freshly made pie straight from the pizza oven downstairs.
Stay here: The opulent Murrayfield Hotel, housed in a Victorian villa in a quiet corner of Edinburgh, dazzles with its soaring ceilings, elegant furnishings and original features such as stained-glass windows and cast iron radiators.
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