The GO Outdoors Guide to Cairngorms - 60 Reasons to visit
Situated in the north east of Scotland, the Cairngorms National Park is one of the most picturesque parts of Britain with hills, valleys and rolling countryside as far as the eye can see. With snow-topped peaks in the winter and fabulous views to take in from Ben Macdui, the second-highest mountain in the UK and some of the cleanest water in Scotland, this relatively new national park has something for every keen explorer.
Officially opened in 2003 by the Scottish Parliament, the Cairngorms National Park has become one of the most popular British tourist destinations; attracting walkers, cyclists, climbers and even skiers from all over the UK.
If you’ve never been to Scotland, but love getting out into the fresh air for a walk with your partner or family; then the Cairngorms presents the perfect opportunity to pack up the car and head north with the help of this GO Outdoors Guide to the Cairngorms.
Whether you’re a keen cyclist desperate to test yourself against the challenging peaks or the kind of rambler who strives to conquer the best of the British countryside, the Cairngorms is waiting for you. There’s no need to be an expert, or even the most experienced of campers, cyclists or walkers as there are ample opportunities for you to learn from local experts; and even more opportunities for you to learn as you go.
We haven’t forgotten about the little ones either, as this guide includes plenty of fun activities for children to try on their own – or as a whole family.
So whether it’s a staycation over the school holidays or a much-needed weekend away with your nearest and dearest, the Cairngorms are waiting for you; so pack up the car with your walking boots, all of your essential waterproof clothing and your brand new tents and venture into the Cairngorms National Park with GO Outdoors.
- Cairngorms Walks
- Cairngorms Cycle Routes
- Cairngorms Climbing Routes
- Cairngorms Campsites
- Cairngorms Family Activities
- Cairngorms Try Something New
With the second-highest mountain in the UK and more than 4,528 square kilometres to cover, the Cairngorms National Park is waiting to be explored on foot. Strap on your walking boots, grab your map and try one of these great walking routes:
- The Pass of Ryvoan
Climbing up to 380-feet, the Pass of Ryvoan takes you on a trip through beautiful pine Caledonian woodland with some stunning views out over the national park. Lasting around four to five hours depending on your ability, this 9-mile hike is suitable for sure-footed adults armed with plenty of waterproof clothing and suitable walking boots so that you’re prepared for anything. Take a packed lunch with you if you’re venturing out in the morning, or stop off at a quiet café along the way. You may even spot some of the local wildlife if you’re lucky.
More Information: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/cairngorms/ryvoan-pass.shtml
- Badenoch Way: Dalraddy to Ruthven
With plenty of local wildlife roaming freely, numerous munros in the region and some breathtaking scenery; the Badenoch Way is one of the most popular routes for walkers in the Cairngorms national park taking between five and six hours to complete depending on ability. This 11-mile stretch between Dalraddy and Ruthven will take you through the moors and down to the lochs, enabling you to see the REAL Scotland. Pack your walking boots and a picnic, because it’s worth stopping along the way to enjoy the views.
More Information: http://www.lhhscotland.com/about-lhh/news/best-autumn-hikes-in-the-cairngorms/
- Kingussie and Newtonmore (via Loch Gynack)
Loch Gynack is a must-see part of the Cairngorms national park, so walking between Kingussie and Newtonmore gives you the ideal opportunity to take it in. The beautiful clear water of the Loch has made it one of the most photogenic features, and the walk itself isn’t too bad either! One of the relatively shorter routes covering 7-miles and taking experienced walkers between two and three-hours, it’s perfect for those who enjoy setting off for a hike in the morning and relaxing in the afternoon at your destination – or stopping off along the way for lunch!
More Information: http://www.kingussie.co.uk/
- Ben Macdui and Cairngorm
No trip to the Cairngorm National Park is complete without attempting to reach the summit of the two most iconic peaks in the region. Ben Macdui is the second-highest peak in the whole of the UK, behind Ben Nevis, and it is well worth the hours spent trekking to the top for the incredible views over the region. Similarly, the Cairngorm mountain is a highlight and key feature of the park. The ascents take around six to eight-hours depending on your experience and ability, covering almost 11-miles from the starting point at the ski centre.
More Information: http://www.lakelandmountainguides.co.uk/ben-macdui--cairngorm
- The Morrone Ascent, Braemar
For less experienced or less capable walkers, the Morrone Ascent is one of the best walks in the region. A relatively straightforward ascent in good conditions, this moderate difficulty walk takes up to five hours to complete and spans approximately seven and a half miles. The route itself is good, and the majority is paved making it a viable option for those with walking difficulties who still love to get out exploring. Having reached the summit you’ll find staggering views out over the national park, along with a section alongside the river on your way up (or down, depending on your route of course!)
More Information: http://braemarscotland.co.uk/things-to-do/walking/
- Speyside Way: Buckie to Fochabers
The Speyside Way is one of the most iconic parts of the Cairngorms national park. Opened in 1981, the section between Buckie and Fochabers takes in some picturesque scenery along the coast before moving inland towards the mountains. Spanning 11-miles and taking a competent walker around four to five hours to complete, hikers can tackle a combination of coastal paths made from gravel and more typical woodland trails. The Speyside Way itself covers a total of 93-miles, meaning that the section from Buckie to Fochabers is a great way to sample it before moving onto a larger challenge.
More Information: https://www.mickledore.co.uk/walking-holidays/speyside-way/
- Cateran Trail: Alyth to Blairgowrie (via the Bridge of Cally)
The Cateran Trail is one that you’re likely to see signposted throughout the national park. Covering a total of 63-miles in one large loop, the route goes from high to low – and back again! The section from Alyth to Blairgowrie is a challenging section that takes in the wonderful Bridge of Cally during the 15-mile moderate walk. Taking between six and seven hours to complete, this section of the trail is popular among keen and amateur walkers alike.
More Information: https://www.easyways.com/walking-routes/the-cateran-trail/
- Dava Way: Grantown-on-Spey to Dava
The Dave Way is a beautiful route for those who love nothing more than a hike in the forest. With soft ground and plenty of sticks and potential hazards, it’s not a walking route suited to everybody, but the section between Grantown-on-Spey and Dava is made popular by its relatively short distance. The Dava Way itself would take several days to complete making it an excellent route for those looking to stop off in various towns and villages along the way, and the section covers 8.5-miles which is a good workout for any hiker.
More Information: http://www.ramblers.org.uk/go-walking/routes-and-places-to-walk/paths-index/scotlands-great-trails/dava-way.aspx
- The Glen Tilt Circuit - Blair Atholl
The Glen Tilt Circuit at Blair Atholl Estate is one that is definitely for the more experienced hikers due to the nature of the surface. Covering a total of 9.5-miles, the circuit takes you through beautiful woodland filled with local wildlife including roe deer and red squirrels. The gravel tracks and forest trails mean that the surface is uneven and rutted in places so you’ll have to keep your eye on the route as well as the scenery. There’s even a river crossing near the end so be sure to pack your waterproofs (or find yourself a drier crossing point!)
More Information: http://www.explore-highland-perthshire.com/video/walks/glen-tilt-atholl-walk.htm
- The Glenbuchat Ridge near Strathdon
Starting at the fabulous Glenbuchat Castle, this is another of the most iconic walks in the Cairngorms national park. Starting out at the Castle itself, the Glenbuchat Ridge near Strathdon covers a range of surfaces throughout the 8-mile walk. From soft farmland to gravel tracks up and down the hills, this three to four-hour walk is of a moderate difficulty meaning it’s a good one to get your teeth into when trying out a more complex walk for the first time.
More Information: http://lumsdencommunity.co.uk/attractions-things-to-do/
The Cairngorms National Park is a haven for cyclists with all kinds of tracks and trails to ride out on. With plenty of tough and challenging routes taking in forest surfaces and jumps to more sedate trails suitable for families and more casual cyclists, we’ve compiled a list of our favourites into this handy guide:
- Ballater to Aboyne
If you’re as happy on the road as you are off it, then the 36km route between Ballater and Aboyne is the one for you. Taking approximately three hours to complete depending on your approach to the off-road challenges, this is an ideal route for a family or group of cyclists with a degree of experience. It takes in tarmac surfaces along the main road and forest trails making protective equipment essential.
More Information: http://iansommerville.com/blog/the-deeside-way-ballater-to-aboyne/
- Glenlivet Trail Centre
The Glenlivet Trail Centre has everything you need to get your cycling buzz in the Cairngorms. From family-friendly trails to those purpose-built for experienced BMX riders to get some air time, the trail centre will provide plenty of fun whichever route you choose to take on. With a number of exhilarating single track runs to build up some speed and plenty of forest trails where you’ll be tested to the limit, the Glenlivet Trail Centre also offers spectacular scenery for your rest stops!
More Information: http://www.ibikeride.com/scotland/1681-glenlivet-mountain-bike-trail-centre
- The Old Logging Way: Aviemore to Glenmore
A perfect cycling route for families and those relatively new to off-road cycling or mountain biking. Covering four miles along “The Old Logging Way”, this is a purpose-built off-road course that will test your skills and help you on your way to becoming a more competent mountain biker. Located in the very heart of the Cairngorms national park, you can ride through the beautiful woodland and take in the scenery at your leisure.
More Information: http://www.visitaviemore.com/activities/onyourbike/
- Lecht Trail Centre
With two specially designed trails for novice and experienced mountain bike riders, the Lecht Trail Centre is growing in popularity all the time. The Red Fox trail is designed for the more competent – and confident – riders, with plenty of off-road challenges and jumps to contend with; while the Blue Hair trail is designed for novices providing an opportunity to hone your skills before moving up. The trails cover almost 2km and there is even a skills park for you to warm-up beforehand.
More Information: http://www.moredirt.com/trail/United-Kingdom_North-Scotland/Red-Fox-Trail---Lecht/432
- Laggan Wolftrax Trail Centre
You can take it steady or go head-first into the numerous challenges at the Laggan Wolftrax Trail Centre. With trails catering to everyone from first-timers to experienced mountain bikers you can learn how to tackle the forest trail surfaces or get the adrenaline flowing as you get some serious air-time over the jumps. Routes vary in length as well as difficulty, with the shortest measuring 3.6km and the longest 13km so there’s plenty for you to try as your confidence builds.
More Information: http://www.lagganforest.com/mountain-biking.asp
- The Speyside Way: Nethybridge to Boat of Garten
The Speyside Way is a popular route for walkers and cyclists alike, with some of the most picturesque sections of the Cairngorms national park visible – and accessible – from the various roads and tracks. From a mountain biking perspective, the route between Nethybridge and Boat of Garten offers a range of gradients and terrains to test your off-road skills. Spanning 5-miles it’s a good challenge for novice and expert riders.
More Information: http://cairngormbikeandhike.co.uk/bike-hike/trails/
- Burma Road, Aviemore
Covering 25-miles and filled with steep inclines and challenging terrain the Burma Road in Aviemore might sound daunting; but for keen cyclists it’s a must. There are stunning views around every turn and there is plenty to test your on and off-road skills. With a total ascent of just over 600-metres it takes you to one of the highest points in the national park, so you’ll need to get your legs pumping, but it’s the kind of route that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment at the end.
More Information: http://www.mapmyride.com/gb/aviemore-sct/cairngorms-burma-road-route-18513258
- Kincraig Loop: Inverdruie to Kincraig
Situated around two-miles south of Aviemore is the start of the Kincraig Loop. Inverdruie might only seem to be a small village in the Cairngorms, but it’s the start of a major cycling route that attracts novice and experienced riders alike. It may only last around an hour, but the Kincraig Loop packs a lot into such a small amount of time. Previous riders would describe the route as “undulating” rather than “hilly” throughout the 23km circuit. As with most parts of the region you’ll find some wonderful views of the mountains, lakes and Scottish countryside.
More Information: https://www.wildernessscotland.com/
- The Lecht Road: Aviemore to Inverness Trail
So you’ve tested yourself over short and medium distances, and across a range of terrains, now it’s time to test out your endurance. The Lecht Road – also known as the Aviemore to Inverness Trail – is an 85km route that will test your riding skills and your fitness in equal measure. Just to keep you on your toes, there is also one steep climb and descent so you’ll need to work out when to push it and when to save your energy in preparation.
More Information: http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/visiting/national-parks-week/top-15/top-15-cycle-routes
- Glenshee Mountain Bike Track
A purpose-built mountain track in the heart of the Cairngorms national park – what more could any keen off-road cyclist ask for? The 3.2km course may only take you ten minutes to complete, but the chairlift will take you to the top over and over again so that you can learn from your mistakes, learn the route and take time out of each of your runs until you’re happy. This is a great mountain bike track for you to learn more about your own ability, the capabilities of your bike and how to approach key points on the trail.
More Information: http://cairngorms.co.uk/discover-explore/things-to-do/cycling-trails-2/
Climbing is one of the UK’s most popular outdoor activities, presenting people with the chance to get the adrenaline pumping and testing out their physical and mental strength. Here are some of the best places to go climbing in the Cairngorms with venues and routes for all abilities:
- Glenmore Lodge
Whatever the weather has in store for you, you can still go rock climbing at Glenmore Lodge thanks to the indoor walls and beautiful natural outdoor routes. With courses for beginners and more experienced climbers, Glenmore Lodge is the perfect place to get to grips with the Cairngorms – literally! With all kinds of different shaped crags and courses to tackle, you can learn more about rock climbing or test yourself to the limit. All gear is available for hire and lessons are taken by experienced, qualified instructors.
More Information: https://www.glenmorelodge.org.uk/mountaineering-courses/cat-21-rock-climbing/
- G2 Outdoor Climbing and Mountaineering
At G2 Outdoor Climbing and Mountaineering centre you can learn how to climb safely from experienced, qualified instructors. A fantastic sport for everybody to try, rock climbing can help you to satisfy that craving for adrenaline while also presenting an opportunity to conquer your fears in a safe environment. Having learned from the instructors you can venture out onto the rocks and put the theory into practice.
More Information: http://www.g2outdoor.co.uk/summer-activities/rock-climbing-and-abseiling
- Boots ‘n’ Paddles
The Cairngorms National Park is filled with some incredible hills, mountains and rock formations just waiting to be explored. Rather than simply walking up the most accessible routes, why not learn how to climb up to see the park from a different angle? Boots ‘n’ Paddles offers novice and experienced climbers the chance to climb up and conquer a range of indoor and outdoor crags as part of your holiday with tuition and equipment available.
More Information: http://www.boots-n-paddles.co.uk/on-land/193-climbing
- The Northern Corries
The Cairngorm Mountains attract climbers from all over the world thanks to their unique formations and the series of challenges they present. With everything from novice-standard ascents to those that should only be attempted by seasoned climbers with assistance, the Northern Corries provide a range of rock climbs that will test everyone to the limits. With the conditions varying by the half-hour at certain times of year it can get easier – and harder – as you climb depending on the weather. Be sure to check the forecast before you go, as the Northern Corries can test even the best of climbers.
More Information: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/cairngorms/cairngorm.shtml
- Coire an Lochain
One of the quieter areas in the Cairngorms due mainly to its longer approach when compared to similar formations; Coire an Lochain is a particularly steep area that will test your technical skills to the limit. Outdoor rock climbing can become increasingly difficult as the weather takes a turn so be sure to go prepared, especially in the winter when snow and ice can catch even the most experienced of climbers out. That said, it’s one of the most reliable sections during the winter so be sure to give it a try.
More Information: http://www.cairngormclub.org.uk/
- Coire an t’Sneachda
Coire an t’Sneachda is one of the most iconic climbing areas in the region, if not the whole of the UK. Right across the Cairngorms there are a wide range of rock formations waiting to be explored, but none are quite as varied as Coire an t’Sneachda. With infamous routes including Jacob’s Ladder and Aladdin’s Mirror, it is easily accessible from the car park meaning that you can carry all of the gear you need to go prepared for anything. Throughout the winter this is an exceptional climbing area with numerous routes remaining open whatever the weather.
More Information: http://www.scotclimb.org.uk/cairngorms.shtml
- Ben Macdui
Ben Macdui may get overlooked by Ben Nevis as the largest Mountain in the UK, but while it doesn’t reach the physical heights of Ben Nevis it does take the crown in terms of climbing routes. With such a wide range of challenging ascents, suitable for winter or summer climbing, Ben Macdui attracts novice and experienced climbers from all over the UK – and further afield. The summit is surrounded by steep approaches so be sure to take all of your safety equipment before even setting out on your approach to the top, and there are a range of plateaus and overhangs set to test you throughout.
More Information: http://www.climbthemunros.co.uk/ben_macdui.php
- The Devil’s Point
Said to be the guardian of the Lairig Ghru hill pass, the Devil’s Point is a treacherous part of the Cairngorms National Park. With incredibly difficult walking and climbing routes to get through, it certainly lives up to the legend of being such a strong guardian. It’s a climbing area meant for the most experienced of climbers, or certainly those who are accompanied by experts and full safety equipment. During the winter months this area can become impassable, so be sure to check the weather forecast before you venture out.
More Information: http://www.scottishsport.co.uk/walking/biggie.htm
- Creag an Dubh Loch
Often described as the cleanest and most physically impressive of the climbing routes in the Cairngorms, Creag an Dubh Loch is another that attracts climbers from all over the UK, Europe and further afield. If you’re a relatively experienced climber then this is one that you have to put on and tick off your list. With more than 100 different climbs available on the one section, this physically imposing rock formation will test your ability as well as your footing.
More Information: www.mcofs.org.uk/climbing-guide-areas.asp
- Shelterstone Crag – “The Needle”
Located in the north of the Cairngorms National Park is Shelterstone Crag, also known as “The Needle.” It takes its nickname from the sharp, narrow shape that it’s taken over the years, but despite its tough face and narrow ascent, Shelterstone Crag is one of the most appealing to experienced climbers. With a number of highly challenging ascents for experienced climbers and a number of relatively simple ascents for those looking to challenge themselves to improve their climbing ability, Shelterstone Crag has something for everyone – especially the views!
More Information: http://www.marmotte.co.uk/the_needle.htm
If you’re going to experience the great outdoors, what better way is there to do it than by camping out underneath the millions of stars – all visible in the night sky that fills the Cairngorms. Throw into the mix the possibility to see the Northern Lights at certain times and you’re all set for a brilliant time away. Check out some of our favourite campsites and other forms of outdoor accommodation:
- Boat of Garten Holiday Park
In terms of location, the Boat of Garten Holiday Park couldn’t be better situated if you could position it yourself. A popular location with both walkers and cyclists thanks to its central location – just six miles from Aviemore – the Boat of Garten Holiday Park also offers a range of luxury lodges for those who don’t fancy a night under canvas, along with on-site facilities such as a children’s play area, pitch and putt golf course, fishing lake and all-important washing area.
More Information: http://www.boatofgartenholidaypark.com/
- Rothiemurchus Camp and Caravan Site
When it comes to camping, you’re best doing it properly. Camping out underneath the stars from the heart of a forest is some people’s idea of heaven, and that’s exactly what you can do at Rothiemurchus Camp and Caravan Site. Situated in the Caledonian pine forest, the camping and caravan site welcomes families and groups, and even has space for you to bring your own caravan if you wish. The award-winning campsite even has a heated amenity building with toilets, showers and launderette.
More Information: https://coolcamping.com/campsites/uk/scotland/north-scotland/inverness-shire/187-rothiemurchus
- Aviemore Glamping
If camping isn’t your thing, but you like the idea of being in the great outdoors rather than stuck inside a hotel staring at four walls, then it’s worth checking out the idea of glamping. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it combines the best of camping with the luxuries of home such as wet rooms, shower facilities and comfy beds. At Aviemore Glamping in the heart of the Cairngorms you even have the opportunity to stay in one of the eco-friendly ‘pods’; making glamping a great alternative to tents and hotels – especially in winter when you can turn up the heating!
More Information: http://www.aviemoreglamping.com/
- Lazy Duck Lightweight Camping: Nethybridge
With space for just four tent pitches, Lazy Duck Lightweight Camping is the perfect place to find some peace and quiet during your stay in the Cairngorms. Aviemore is 20-minutes away, making this an ideal “commuter” campsite if you’re in the area for some walking or cycling. With plenty of local wildlife roaming around in the nearby woodland and pine trees as far as the eye can see, the Lazy Duck campsite offers the best in rural country camping.
More Information: http://lazyduck.co.uk/
- Ecocamp Glenshee
As the name suggests, Ecocamp Glenshee is all about “going green”, so if you’re camping in the Cairngorms and want to do your bit for the environment wherever you go this is the site for you. There are a number of eco-friendly tents and pods to try out, suitable for four to five adults. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the clear night sky free from light pollution and packed full of stars – pure peace and quiet!
More Information: https://www.ecocampglenshee.co.uk/
- Wildcat Gypsy Caravans
It’s a campsite, but with a difference. Set in Invernahavon Caravan Park and utilising genuine gypsy caravans, the Wildcat Gypsy Caravans site is an alternative venue for your stay in the Cairngorms. With a choice of 14-foot static caravans sleeping between two and four adults, you can get away from the hustle and bustle with a number of home comforts thrown in for good measure including gas stove and comfortable fold-out beds.
More Information: http://www.wildcatgypsycaravans.co.uk/
- Glenmore Campsite, Aviemore
With more than 200 pitches, Glenmore Campsite is one of the largest sites in the national park. In order to accommodate everyone, the site provides toilets and hot showers along with electric hook ups for caravans. Situated in the heart of the park there are excellent views of the Cairngorm mountains and everything you could possibly need is within a short walk or bike ride depending on your preference. Surrounding the park is the Glenmore Forest meaning there are pine trees and local wildlife all around.
More Information: http://www.campingintheforest.co.uk/scotland/aviemore/glenmore-campsite
- Dalraddy Camping and Caravan Site
Dalraddy Camping and Caravan site is located right in the centre of the Cairngorms national park with 360-degree views of the mountains and surrounding woodland. Within walking distance of the river Spey and with 50-pitches there is plenty to see and do in the holiday park with laundrette, washing area, shower and toilet facilities and a licensed shop for any essentials.
More Information: http://www.alvie-estate.co.uk/tents-tourers/camping
- Ballater Caravan Park
Located to the east of the national park, in Aberdeenshire, is the picturesque town of Ballater. With the Queen’s residence of Balmoral not far away, Ballater is popular for all kinds of reasons, attracting hundreds – even thousands – to the region every year. Down by the River Dee that runs to the south of the town is the Ballater Caravan Park that offers campers a range of facilities and activities, all perfectly located for walkers and cyclists looking to explore the Cairngorms.
More Information: http://www.ballatercaravanpark.com/
- Blair Castle Caravan Park
A campsite and caravan park favoured by families and groups of adults, Blair Castle Caravan Park has a total of 33 non-electric pitches with a number of washing up, toilet and shower facilities on-site. Blair Atholl estate is located next door, and those staying at the campsite will receive subsidised entry to the Castle meaning it’s the ideal location for those looking for a bit of culture mixed in with their walking or cycling break in the Cairngorms.
More Information: http://www.blaircastlecaravanpark.co.uk/stay_on_athollestates_camping.cfm
Camping and holidaying as a family is the ideal opportunity for you to try out new things and to see the kind of things you wouldn’t normally see if you were at home. By holidaying in the Cairngorms, there are all kinds of activities, sights and things try out; and here are just a few:
- Llama Trekking in Glenshee
Llamas are intriguing creatures that you can’t help but love. Their woolly coats and friendliness makes them so attractive to people that you’ll be stroking them before you realise it. In the Cairngorms you can get up close and personal with a number of striking yet aloof llamas, where you can even feed them and take them for a walk with a guide – great for building up your children’s confidence with and around animals. Make sure you take your walking boots and waterproofs!
More Information: http://www.llamatrekscotland.com/
- Family Rafting
Rafting doesn’t only take place down on the wild white-water of the River Spey. The belief that it’s an adrenaline-fuelled activity that sends you hurtling through narrow stretches and between perilous rocks puts many families and young people off. However, the family rafting experience takes place on a quite section of the beautiful river so that you can experience it for the very first time. You can ride down the river with the help of an experienced guide who will even point out a few of the local wildlife.
More Information: http://rothiemurchus.net/outdoor-activities-at-aviemore/family-rafting/
- Loch Insh Watersports Centre – Mountain Biking
Not everybody comes to the Cairngorms to go mountain biking, but having taken a relaxed stroll around the national park and seen the number of people out on their bikes, many get the urge to give it a go. At Loch Insh Watersports Centre you can do plenty of activities on dry land, including hiring out some mountain bikes and all the essential gear so that you can see the park on two wheels. The venue can loan you everything from the bike to high-visibility vests and even repair kits so you’re fully prepared.
More Information: http://www.lochinsh.com/la-biking.asp
- Archery at Craggan Outdoors
Craggan Outdoors is one of the most popular venues in the region for the sheer range of activities on offer suitable for the whole family. For many, archery is the kind of activity that you either stumble upon or learn about while you’re at venues such as Craggan Outdoors, so why not join them? Test out your hand-eye co-ordination and attempt to hit the middle of the target. Instructors are readily available and each one or two-hour session is open to everyone from the age 8 and upwards.
More Information: http://www.cragganoutdoors.co.uk/archery/
- Foot Golf
It might sound like an odd combination, but the blend of football and golf has become one of the most popular activities in the UK over the past twelve months. A fantastic opportunity to combine your football skills with your love of golf, or to get youngsters into either sport, is available in the Cairngorms at Craggan Outdoors. Kick the ball from the tee to a football-sized hole on the green. It follows the same concept as golf where the fewest attempts wins, so it’s a test of precision as well as your ability to boot the ball a long way!
More Information: http://www.cragganoutdoors.co.uk/foot-golf/
- Mini Highland Games
Scotland is famous for the Highland Games as people dressed in traditional attire attempt to perform some incredible skills in order to win. While you’re up in the Highlands, you and the family can attempt the Mini Highland Games with a scaled-down version of these traditional sports (kilts are optional!) Toss the caber, putt your shot as far down as you can and wang your wellies as far as possible!
More Information: http://www.cragganoutdoors.co.uk/mini-highland-games/
- Macdonald Aviemore Resort Activity Centre
When you can’t decide what to do during your holiday, heading for an activity centre is often the best way to keep the whole family entertained. At the Macdonald Aviemore Resort activity centre there is something for both little children and slightly bigger children too! Here you can try your hand at ten-pin bowling, miniature golf and a whole range of indoor activities that mean that you can find something even when the weather isn’t playing nicely.
More Information: http://www.visitaviemore.com/attractions/indoor-attractions/
- Highland Horse Fun
Horse riding and pony trekking can be both entertaining and relaxing at the same time, especially when you have a love for all things equestrian but don’t have your own horses at home. Highland Horse Fun offer guests the opportunity to ride small ponies that are ideal for younger children and adult horses capable of trekking out into the Cairngorms national park. See the countryside in a completely different way and get up close and personal with these majestic animals.
More Information: http://www.highlandhorsefun.com/
- Balmoral Castle
The Queen’s Scottish residence is wonderful building to see from a distance and even more magnificent when you get right up close. At Balmoral Castle you can have a tour of the grounds letting you see why the Queen and the Royal Family love the venue so much, venture inside the castle to see the inside on a guided tour, or even get into a 4x4 for an off-road trip through the castle grounds to see some of the hidden gems. It’s worth checking when the Castle is open to the public, however, to save yourself a trip – unless you have an invite from the Queen of course!
More Information: http://www.balmoralcastle.com/
- The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre
They’re something of a mythical creature to some people, with a lot of children believing that they live outside Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. However, you can get up close to some beautiful reindeer at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. Adults and children alike may never have seen a real reindeer before, so as you’re in the area you need to venture into the reindeer centre where you can see around 150 of the animals in their natural habitats.
More Information: http://www.cairngormreindeer.co.uk/
Spending time away from home means that you’re a little bit outside your comfort zone anyway, so it’s the perfect time to try something new. In the Cairngorms national park there are plenty of activities that you can try out that you may not normally get to experience, and here are a few:
- Rothiemurchus Outdoor Activity Centre
When it comes to family weekends in the Cairngorms, an activity centre is the perfect way to keep everyone entertained while also trying your hand at something new that you’ve always fancied having a go at. At Rothiemurchus you can try out everything from fishing to quad biking and everything in between. You can even saddle up for a pony trek or conquer those fears with a treetop adventure.
More Information: http://rothiemurchus.net/
- Quad Bike Tours
If you’re up for a bit of exploring during your stay in the Cairngorms but want to see things in a bit of a different way then Quad Bike Tours could be the best way for you. Walking and cycling isn’t for everyone, but you don’t have to miss out on everything the fabulous national park has to offer. With a quad bike tour you’ll be trained on how to drive the vehicles and then taken off into the highlands to see the sights on four wheels.
More Information: http://www.quadbiketours.co.uk/
- 4x4 Land Rover Safaris
Have you ever wanted to do a safari? Well now’s your chance. In the highlands of Scotland you can get into a Land Rover and head off in search of some of the wildlife native to the Cairngorms National Park. These elusive animals include majestic deer that you just can’t find anywhere else, so if you need a break from walking or cycling and fancy having someone else show you around then this is a great day out for the whole family.
More Information: http://www.braemarhighlandsafaris.co.uk/
- Highland Fling Bungee
Just because you’re in a National Park you don’t have to spend your whole time relaxing and being at one with nature. There are tons of opportunities to get the adrenaline going, and there is no better way than the Highland Fling Bungee. Climb up, take in the sights and then jump from a purpose built platform for a truly unique way to see the Cairngorms! If it’s the kind of experience you thought was only available overseas, think again – it’s right on your doorstep (or at least the porch of your tent!)
More Information: https://www.bungeejumpscotland.co.uk/
- Strathspey Railway
Train journeys can be relaxing, entertaining and a fantastic way of seeing parts of the world that are usually inaccessible from the road, air or by foot. Take a trip on the Strathspey Railway and travel through the picturesque Scottish Highlands from the comfort of a high class carriage where passengers can even take advantage of a dining experience that ranges from afternoon tea to Sunday dinners. If you and your family or friends are particularly keen on the traditional steam engines there are even packages available to allow you to fire up the engines!
More Information: http://strathspeyrailway.co.uk/
- Kayaking and River Spey Canoeing
Outdoor activity centres enable you to try out a range of activities that you’ve always fancied having a go at. Kayaking and canoeing aren’t widely available like other sports and activities are, but at Craggan Outdoors you can take lessons on the River Spey for an adrenaline-fuelled experience out on the water. There are novice sections for beginners along with those designed for more experienced kayakers and canoeists.
More Information: http://www.cragganoutdoors.co.uk/
- Highland Wildlife Park
A day out at the Highland Wildlife Park is one that you won’t be able to forget in a hurry. Whether you’re visiting as a family, couple or group of friends; you can see a wide range of animals including monkeys, red pandas and even a polar bear! Take your own car through the enclosures or take a walk around the park at your leisure – the choice is yours. There are even gift packages available should you wish to buy passes as a gift for a friend or loved one during your stay.
More Information: http://www.highlandwildlifepark.org.uk/
- Horse-riding at Alvie Stables
With miles and miles of countryside to explore, it can be difficult to see it all during your stay in the Cairngorms. However, you can saddle up at Alvie Stables and right out for a Highland experience like no other. There are thousands of people who enjoy horse riding, and with friendly and trained staff on-hand to take guests out for a ride into the park you can see the local area on horseback and feel like cowboy or cowgirl!
More Information: http://www.alvie-estate.co.uk/activities/horse-riding
- Glenmore Lodge Orienteering
Think you’re pretty good with a map and navigating your way around? Then why not test yourself and have fun in the process by orienteering around the Cairngorms national park. It’s a great alternative to the more relaxed walks around the various trails and with routes that take you through the heart of the Glenore forest it’s a highly enjoyable adventure whether it’s your first time or your hundredth. Definitely an activity for those who are stable on their feet, but one that the whole family can get involved in.
More Information: https://www.glenmorelodge.org.uk/mountain-biking-other-courses/cat-30-orienteering/
- Cairngorm Mountain Ski Area
Ever fancied skiing but not had the opportunity to venture to the Alps so that you can hit the slopes and feel the buzz of skiing or snowboarding down a mountain? Don’t worry, because in the Cairngorms National Park – in Scotland – you can get that thrill without having to leave the UK! It’s something of a secret that during the peak winter season the mountains are coated in snow suitable for skiing, so whether you’re a novice or an expert you’ll love the thrill of skiing in the Cairngorms.
More Information: http://www.cairngormskiclub.co.uk/