Top things to do when the ski centres are closed

We can’t wait for our winter ski fix but when the conditions don’t allow, and the weather gods won’t play ball, thoughts turn to what to do in the Cairngorms when you can’t ski or snowboard.

So far we have had a winter of hard frosts and temperatures of -10 with the most amazing sunrises and sunsets to waking up the next day to temperatures 25C warmer. The ski centres opened on November 25th for two day’s to glorious sunshine and blue skies only to close a day later when the snow melted. Our weather is very unpredictable but usually by this time of year the mountains are white and we can usually ski or snowboard. So here we list 15 things to do when the ski centres are shut….


A great activity for exploring the beautiful Caledonian Pine forest and open heather moors. Many of the local estates offer this activity in all weathers (including snow if it makes an appearance).

Quad Biking in the Cairngorms

2. Aviemore Kart Raceway

This brand new 550 metre outdoor go kart track, running the world famous sodikarts opened this summer and is already a favourite with locals and visitors. Catering for age 8 upwards, you can even book a mini grand prix with friends and family. They also have arrive and drive slots so you don’t always need to book in advance.

Aviemore Kart Raceway

3. Llama Trekking in Glenshee

Ecocamp Glenshee invite you to come and meet their friendly and definitely non-spitting Llamas! After meeting, greeting and hand feeding the llamas they will take you on a trek in the stunning hill scenery around Ecocamp Glenshee. All treks stop half way for organic home bakes and delicious organic hot chocolate!


Pit your skills against friends and shoot some clays. Rothiemurchus, Ardverikie and Alvie Estates offer this sport under expert tuition and guidance. Craggan Outdoors run laser clay shooting too.

Clay Pigeon Shooting

6. Take a walk

We have some amazing walks in the Cairngorms and Fiona Outdoors wrote us a blog on six great walks for beginners and families. Other suggestions include walking part of the Deeside way through Ballater or the Speyside Way between Boat of Garten and Aviemore. Climb Creag Choinnich for a wondeful view over Braemar. Take the short but steep walk up the Falls of Bruar near Blair Atholl. All will afford you views for instagram worthy photos to share with your friends!

7. Drive the scenic route from Blairgowrie to Grantown on Spey via Braemar and Tomintoul

This is much more fun than taking the A9 and takes you through some stunning countryside. If you are a fan of beautiful landscapes, photography and architecture then stop off at the viewpoints at Corgarff, Tomintoul Quarry* (*from  January 2017), and the Devil’s Elbow at Glenshee. The existing spy stone at Corgarff bears an inscription ‘take a moment to behold’ and this is exactly what these installations encourage you to do!

8. Visit the Cairngorm Reindeer

These amazing friendly creatures have had a busy month but you can also meet them at their visitor centre at Glenmore or take a hill trek to meet them in their own environment.

9. Highland Wildlife Park, Kincraig

The Highland Wildlife Park is home to Amur Tigers, Snow Leopards and Polar Bears to name just a few of the animals you will find here. It makes for a great day out in all weathers.

Tiger in Snow. Image: Alex Riddell

10. Landmark Forest Adventure Park, Carrbridge

In winter the Park is open but the big manned attractions such as the water slides are closed. There is still plenty to amuse the kids with a lost labyrinth, tree top trail, bamboozeleum, red squirrel trail, tropical plant house, ant city play area, forest viewing tower, and wonder wood. Call in advance if the weather is icy to check what is open.

11. Visit a Gin or Whisky Distillery or a Brewery!

We are lucky to have a gin distillery, several whisky distilleries and a brewery in the Cairngorms National Park. Take your pick and enjoy a taste of the Cairngorms.

12. Take a Horse and Carriage Ride

There is something incredibly romantic about a Horse and Carriage.  The slow glide of the carriage along the road, the metronome rhythm of the horse’s hooves as they clip-clop along. Book a carriage ride for a tour in the Carrbridge area.

14. Bungee Jump, Killiecrankie

The Cairngorms are home to the first permanent bridge-based bungee jump, in the UK. If you take the train North from Perth you can spy the jump over the river at Killiecrankie. Not for the faint hearted but an amazing challenge for the adrenaline junkies out there.

15. Get cosy in the pub!

There are no shortage of cosy pubs in the Cairngorms. Think roaring fire, friendly atmosphere, good banter and of course a local tipple and you have the perfect setting for apres fun.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are 100s of things to do in the Cairngorms all year round.

Let us know what your favourites are? Tag us online and use the hashtag #100thingstodoCNP and #visitcairngorms

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