- Blog Updated January 2021
Activities in the Cairngorms
Here at Wilderness Scotland we’re incredibly lucky to live and work in the Cairngorms National Park.
Not to brag or anything but the Cairngorms is an area home to lush forests, adorable wee Highland villages, fantastic wildlife, wild open spaces and of course its very own arctic mountain plateau!
We’ve got plenty of adventurous inspiration all around us. Based in Aviemore, we leave our office doors and have the Abernethy Forest, Loch Morlich, Rothiemurchus, Cairngorm Mountain and of course the mighty Spey within easy access.
As residents we’ve spent many weekends and lunch breaks exploring the local play spots. In this blog I’ve gathered our favourite things to do in the Cairngorms National Park.
1. Go outside and play (obviously)
It’s not surprising that the population in the Cairngorms National Park swells in the summer months.
Tourists flock from all over to hike, bike, canoe, kayak and climb their way across the park. There is something here for every adventurer no matter what age, interest or level of experience.
- Fancy a climb? There are several places to go summer climbing in the park but my favourite is the picturesque Kingussie Crag. It has panoramic views of the surrounding valley and the crag has routes ranging from difficult to E4. There is also great winter climbing to be had straight from the Cairngorm car park, with around 50 routes listed. Please exert appropriate levels of care when winter climbing, ensuring you are well prepared for the weather, have the right equipment and know-how.
- In the mood for some whitewater kayaking? Who isn’t? The Cairngorms is home to over 25 sections of paddle-able river. The options range from grade 2-3 on the Feshie all the way to grade 5 on the Falls of Muick! There is also great canoeing to be had at Loch Insch and Loch Morlich, both have watersports centres where you can hire canoes, as well as kayaks, SUPs and other flotation devices.
- Wild Danny MacAskill sightings are not unheard of in the Cairngorms. Which is not surprising with the range of mountain biking in the area. For family-friendly and purpose-built trails check out Laggan Wolftrax and the trails at Glenlivet Estate. For some more technical downhill pay a visit to High Burnside near Aviemore or Pitfichie Forest by Ballater, you can find exact routes and difficulty levels on Trailforks. Also, have a look at My Favourite 7 Biking Routes in the Cairngorms for some inspiration for your own biking adventures.
- With a mix of mountain roads and quiet roads through forests and past fields there is great road cycling in the Cairngorms National Park as well. The Best Road Cycling Routes in the Highlands features 4 Cairngorm routes.
- Prefer to keep your adventures a bit simpler and less adrenaline-fuelled? There is no point trying to list all of the amazing hikes here as they are endless. However, Wilderness guide Peter Grant, a native Highlander, has sussed out 5 great walking routes for all levels of fitness. Get the first in a series of 5 here. Each blog contains a route description and GPX file.
- Imagine living like a Royal on the Balmoral Estate – the castle is open to visitors at certain times of the year and there also public walking trails on the estate.
- Turn your eyes to the night sky, particularly in winter and particularly near Tomintoul ad Glenlivet. This area is home to some of the darkest skies in the UK and makes for excellent stargazing, so much so it’s been awarded international Dark Sky Park status.
- Explore The Cairngorms National Park with us and enjoy hiking the area with a knowledgable Wilderness Guide.
2. Go the distance
The Speyside Way, the local long-distance route, starts in Spey Bay and finishes officially in our own Highland boom-town of Aviemore, although the route has been extended to Newtonmore via Kincraig. Due to the relatively short distance and easy terrain, the Speyside Way is good for the trekker new to the sport and wanting to ease into the experience. The Speyside Way passes disused rail stations, beautiful moorland, and a Highland coo or two. Route description here. There is also a more challenging off-shoot, linking Ballindalloch to Tomintoul, it’s harder than the rest of the Speyside Way due to its ascent and exposure, but it’s worth the effort as the views are incredible.
Tip: Not keen on dedicating several days and 80-100 miles to a hike? The route consists of 8 sections so you can pick and choose just one to do for a day. The section between Boat of Garten and Aviemore is a great 2-hour walk or short bike ride. It includes beautiful views across to the Cairngorms, heather heathland, photogenic Scots Pines, and a birch tree forest.
Alternatively – the SnowRoads offer an incredibly scenic 90-mile road trip through the east section of the Cairngorms National Park, linking up Grantown-on-Spey in the north and Blairgowrie in the south, outside of the park.
- Check out this page to see the different holidays we run in the Cairngorm and Central Highland area of Scotland