Cairngorm Mountain, near Aviemore
Aviemore is a famous town in Scotland that doubles as one the UK’s best loved winter sports holiday resorts. Set against the foothills of the Cairngorms National Park at the head of the Speyside Way, it’s well furnished with pubs, restaurants, shops, kit hire, and information points.
Why go to France or Italy, when Aviemore has Cairngorm Mountain on its ‘doorstep’, with its excellent ski and snowboarding facilities? Established in 1961 and offering over 18 miles of ski runs, it’s the UK’s largest and busiest skiing destination.
Why go to France or Italy, when Aviemore has Cairngorm Mountain on its ‘doorstep’, with its excellent ski and snowboarding facilities? Established in 1961 and offering over 18 miles of ski runs, it’s the UK’s largest and busiest skiing destination. Cairngorm Mountain staff operates the only funicular railway in Scotland. It serves as the main artery to the peak of the mountain. An estimated 80,000 visitors ascend the mount each summer. The Ptarmigan Building houses The Storehouse, which is the highest restaurant in the UK at an elevation of 1,097 metres above sea level. Open for breakfast through to tea time during the high season, it’s worth a stop to take in the views of Loch Morlich way down below. When you visit Aviemore make sure you set time aside to go to the mountain top.
“Big sky views await all those that take the funicular train up Cairngorm Mountain...”
You can also take a guided walk around the plateau, there are several to choose from depending on stamina levels. The Wilderness Day Hike originates at the base camp and covers some lesser known regions of the National Park, and depending on the weather groups can reach as far as the plateau for some seriously amazing big sky views. Another family walk is a guide-led trek to the peak (4,000 ft) that takes in all the local flora and fauna. Guided mountain biking is also available for experienced riders. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, then you’ll probably spend the entire week at this altitude, no question. You can buy winter clothing, sports apparel and accessories from the outfitters which is also in the Ptarmigan Building. The option to hire all your kit is at hand at the peak too. Loch Vaa, near Aviemore
Birdwatchers love Aviemore, for the likelihood of spotting a bird of prey. Loch Insh, a few miles south, is the spot to catch sightings of ospreys. For a chance to see a rare Pine Marten (recently re-introduced to areas of forest all over the UK) include a dusk tour at Speyside. That would be a good bagging to tell your grandchildren about!
The Strathspey Steam Railway is a more sedate, but no less remarkable highlight to experience in Aviemore. The service is open from the end of March until the end of October. The line runs from Aviemore station to Broomhill, so hop aboard to see some more stunning views of the National Park. Also one of Sir David Attenborough’s favourite places is one mile up the road from Aviemore – Rothiemurchus Estate. Which is the Scottish Highlands presented in microcosm. Take part in ranger-led rambles, wildlife photography, pony and quad bike treks, clay shooting, and so much more.