Much is made of how dreary the dark days of winter can be, and there’s no denying that between the lack of sunlight and the pre-Christmas stress (or post-Christmas slump, depending on what side of December 25th you’re on), the season can be a bit depressing. But there’s plenty of joy to be found in winter as well, and one way you can brighten up those dark evenings is to book yourself a cheeky little getaway somewhere terribly luxurious. Of course, we at Plum Guide have already got some ideas for where you could go for your winter holidays in Scotland – and the most beautiful homes to stay in once you arrive.
The Scots have given the world many things – golf, tartan, and Braveheart amongst them – but perhaps their most widely beloved export is whisky. A wee dram is perfect for warding off the winter chills, and there’s no shortage of distilleries to explore in the Highlands; why not spend your holiday sampling them all to find your favourites? This part of the world is also renowned for its spectacular scenery, and the heather-covered hills and snow-capped Munros (mountains to us non-Scots) are particularly lovely at this time of year – you can even find some real skiing here. Why not make the most of a crisp winter afternoon with a bracing walk through the countryside before heading back to your gorgeous Plum home to get all cosy with a whisky sour in the hot tub? Because yes, you do have a hot tub. What else would you expect from us?
When the weather outside is frightful, a fire is so delightful – so we’ve made sure to find you a home in the Lowlands where you can cuddle up in front of a roaring blaze every single evening. If you can bear to rise from your cosy armchair, you’ll discover plenty of things to do on your winter holidays in Scotland’s Lowlands. Bundle up and go for a tramp around the loch or pay a visit to the red deer who live in Galloway Forest Park. Though most winter excursions end at sundown, we’d recommend making a return visit to the park as night falls – this massive stretch of woodland was the first place in the UK to be given the status of a Dark Sky Park, meaning that it’s an area that restricts light pollution. As such, it’s the perfect place for some stargazing on a clear winter’s night - take a flask of coffee with you, spiked with whisky if it’s really cold.
It’s hard to imagine a city more cinematic than Edinburgh, with its skyline of ancient buildings, an extinct volcano, and of course a castle that’s graced the front of a million postcards. And if you thought it was beautiful in summer, wait until you see it in winter –with a dusting of snow across the cobbles and festive lights twinkling down every street, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve fallen straight into a Christmas card. Here in Edinburgh, people are used to the cold, which means you’re never too far from a cosy cafe serving up warming coffees and hot chocolate, or an old-fashioned pub with steamed-up windows and local beers on tap. Pack a good coat and make vintage emporium Armstrong & Sons your first stop – they have a cracking range of cashmere tartan scarves that are perfect for snuggling into on windy days.
View of Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket, Edinburgh
If you’re struggling to decide where to spend your winter holidays in Scotland, may we
not at all humbly suggest Fife? It may be a cliché, but this charming corner of Scotland really does have everything – some stunning coastal paths that make for a lovely walk even in winter, some world-class golf courses, exceptional dining, and a secret bunker designed to withstand nuclear warfare. (We have to admit, the last one is a bit left-field – but good to know, just in case.) Head to the university town of St Andrews to explore quirky little independent shops and ancient ruins, or take the kids on a thrilling train ride on an iconic Scottish railway line. The Forth Bridge travels over the Firth of Forth - as well as a tongue-twister, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the sensation of travelling over the icy river is something you won’t forget in a hurry. Apologies in advance if you’re scared of heights.
The Forth Rail Bridge, Newhaven, Edinburgh
One of the focal points of a Scottish winter, once you have the Christmas festivities and Hogmanay mayhem out of the way, is Burn’s Night. Celebrating the life of the country’s most famous poet (Robert Burns – come on, you knew that), it takes place annually on the 25th of January. And where better to celebrate the day of his birth than in the place of his birth? The Scottish bard was born in a small cottage in Ayr which now acts as a museum about his life and work – pay a visit here to commemorate his great works, and then head to the local pub to try a traditional Burns Night Supper of haggis, neeps and tatties (parsnips and potatoes, for the uninitiated) and dance the night away at a ceilidh. Don’t worry if you’ve got two left feet – stepping on each other’s toes is half the fun.