As the largest National Park in the UK and the wildest National Park in the UK, it’s time to acquaint ourselves with the stunning Cairngorms. From the alpine-esque climes to the sweeping mountain plateaus, the lake-skimming Ospreys and dense forests of moss and pine; this Scottish landscape provides a true back-to-nature experience. The Cairngorms aren’t just about seeing, because there’s also a hell of a lot to do. So hold tight, and join us as we explore the top five reasons you need to visit Cairngorms National Park.
Though it wouldn’t seem a surprise for a black bear to emerge from the pinewood forests and traipse into the glass-clear waters, this isn’t a Canadian glacier lake, but a Scottish loch of magic proportions. Surrounded by the Highland postcard view of emerald green woodland and silhouetted mountains, Loch Morlich isn’t a place to stand on the sidelines. Whether it’s kayaking, swimming, sailing or paddle-boarding, this peaceful lagoon offers up your best chance to dive in! There’s a water sports centre that sits right on the beach, offering out equipment for hire and even lessons. This may be Scotland, but on a sunny day, you’d think you were in the Med.
Whisky at Speyside
Do you know your bourbons from your single malts? The Speyside region in the northeastern part of the Cairngorms is responsible for producing a whopping half of Scotland’s entire whisky production. That’s eighty-four working distilleries and the big three under its belt: The Glenlivet, Glenfiddic and the Glen Grant. So enticed by this honey-sweet liquor is the Cairngorms, they even host a prestigious whisky festival!
The Speyside Way
One of the four official long-distance routes in Scotland, the Speyside Way is a pure hiker heaven. It stretches 65 miles from Spey Bay to the Highland boom-town of Aviemore, meaning not all of the route is within the Cairngorms park-limits. That’s why we recommend tackling the last leg from Grantown-on-Spey to Aviemore. 17 miles, rather than 65, this bit is easy-breezy; with gentle walks amongst farmland and the lush moorland of Strathspey.
Think all exotic animals are relegated to the wild plains of Africa or snow-capped heights of Switzerland? Think again. Because Scotland is quite the zoological retreat. From arctic reindeer to the forest-dwelling wildcats, the Cairngorms are home to some of the planet’s most rare and threatened species. So much so, the park has recently been declared as an area of European importance for the mighty golden eagle. It is also home to the Cairngorm Reindeer Group, who protect Britain’s only free-ranging herd. The good news? They run all-weather trips for visitors to observe, stroke and even hand-feed the reindeer up the mountainside.
CairnGorm Mountain Railway
Home to the UK’s highest funicular railway, the CairnGorm Mountain Railway is a perfect way to say you’ve seen the heights of the beautiful Cairngorms National Park. With the train making its first ascent at 10am, and heading up the mountain every 20 minutes until 4pm, there’s no excuse not to hop on-board. Unless that is, you decide to brave the hike! Our suggestion? Let the wintry weather have its way. Funicular your way to the top, and then ski back down the mountainside to the hot chocolate waiting for you at the bottom!