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    Easy Yet Adventurous Hillwalking Near Aviemore

    By Gill McMillan
    More by Gill

    Aviemore: Gateway to Highland Adventure

    Aviemore, in the north of the Cairngorms National Park, is a fantastic base for exploring this beautiful region. To arrive from the central belt of Scotland, either drive up the A9 towards Inverness or take the train to the picturesque train station in Aviemore. As we are on the main route north, the town is well served by intercity coaches, and local buses operate between the nearby towns and villages.

    Aviemore is a hub for all sorts of outdoor activities, principally hill walking, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, outdoor swimming, rock climbing, and mountain biking. Mountain bikers have easy access to many great trails and can quickly find good forestry tracks, running through the beautiful Rothiemurchus forest, over to Abernethy and the lovely villages of Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge. Both are good destinations for a day’s ride as each has somewhere to have a coffee or lunch.

    If mountains are your thing, and Munros in particular (Scottish mountains over 3000 feet/914.4 metres, as listed in The Munros guidebook), there’s lots to do around here. Before we begin, a quick disclaimer: The hills listed in this blog, though accessible, require a level of physical fitness and outdoor experience. The term “easy” is used relative to hillwalking in Scotland; these hikes may not be overly technical or require scrambling ability, but your party will still require navigational ability as they involve considerable distance, elevation, and a degree of remoteness. Enjoy these easy hikes near Aviemore with proper preparation and care.

    Next is a suggestion that, to the dedicated Munro-bagger, will sound like heresy. But hear me out. If you want a day in the hills that is a lot quieter (and with fewer people), then do what the locals do, climb a Corbett instead (Scottish mountains between 2,500 ft and 3,000ft, as listed in The Corbetts). We’ve got lots of those too. Let’s start here:

    Meall a'Bhuachaille, Easy Corbetts near Aviemore

    Descending Meall a’Bhuachaille, the Cairngorms

    Getting the Most out of Your Time in the Hills

    • You’ve heard it before, but wear suitable clothing. This means sturdy footwear, clothes made of quick-dry fabric (NO jeans or cotton T-shirts), a full set of waterproofs (jacket and overtrousers), a warm hat, and a pair of gloves at minimum. The waterproofs are also windproof, which is a big consideration in the hills. A cool wind can chill a person very quickly.
    • Don’t be fooled by good weather, it can change in the blink of an eye, so check the forecast but be prepared for anything. For weather in the hills, a three-day forecast is available at MWIS or for a low-level walk, check MetOffice and please remember, weather forecasts are ‘educated guesses’, not firm facts.
    • Take food and drink. Dehydration can leave a person sluggish and disoriented.
    • Bring a means of navigation. You cannot rely on paths and tracks, so we always recommend carrying a navigation tool. Many people now use apps, which can be useful, but phones are notoriously awful for not responding in cooler weather. Ideally, carry a map and compass and learn the skills to use them. There are lots of providers in Aviemore that run navigation courses.

    Bynack More

    Bynack More, done from Glenmore, is a long hike – 23 km/14.5 miles there and back – that’s relatively easy in terms of hillwalking. Get off the local bus at the Youth Hostel, or park at the Glenmore Visitor Centre, and walk from there towards Glenmore Lodge Training Centre. The main path starts from here, passes the Green Lochan, forks right where the path splits and then it is onwards towards the hill. It’s a lengthy but very gentle ascent.

    As you climb, the path gradually reveals panoramic views of the Cairngorms, showcasing the landscape’s rugged beauty. With each step, hikers draw closer to the summit, where breathtaking vistas await. Retrace your steps and enjoy the return views, which are just as gorgeous.

    Cairngorm (& Ben Macdui)

    Cairngorm mountain must be one of the easiest, most accessible peaks in Scotland, despite being the sixth highest. Visitors can conveniently park at the top ski centre car park or take the local bus, which stops at the same location.

    From there, a straightforward walk leads to the summit, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Once atop the plateau, it’s possible to walk much further, across to Ben Macdui (the second-highest Munro in Scotland) and back. This would make the hike about 17.5 km / 11 miles there and back. Alternatively, walking the length of the corries and down Cairn Lochan is a great hike, too, but the terrain is rougher underfoot.

    Sgòr Gaoith

    Sgòr Gaoith is a lovely hike. The path begins well-constructed but becomes eroded and boggy further up. The higher terrain is generally easy with a vast plateau but requires careful navigation if the weather causes poor visibility. To the east, a dramatic drop reveals Loch Einich. Ascending to the plateau’s highest point, you’ll reach the summit of Sgòr Gaoith, offering breathtaking vistas of Loch Einich, Braeriach, and the Feshie plateau – weather permitting, as clouds often gather there.

    For an added challenge, consider the optional descent via the Geal Chàrn ridge, which features boulders and is pathless. However, you can opt for a more straightforward return route to avoid this.

    Mullach Clach a'Bhlàir

    Setting off from Glen Feshie, the trek to Mullach Clach a’Bhlàir offers a mix of captivating scenery, though it mellows out once you hit the plateau. While not overly strenuous, the 22 km/14 mile round trip still makes for a significant day. The journey boasts diverse terrain—think burn crossings, pleasant strolls through heather and pinewoods, and an easy climb on a Landrover track. Navigating the plateau might be tricky in bad weather, but the views on the way up past Coire Caol and Coire Garbhlach are worth it.

    Now, Mullach Clach a’Bhlàir’s summit isn’t exactly a showstopper—it’s often described as an uninspiring lump. Even the panoramic views seem to lose a bit of their charm against the vast plateau backdrop. For the way down, the rough ATV track along Druim nam Bo ridge offers a simpler route rather than backtracking, though watch out for some rough patches with erosion and bog. It’ll guide you back to the main Glen Feshie valley track, completing the adventure.

    Meall Chuaich

    With access to a car, there are several other possibilities nearby Aviemore for the munro-bagger. Heading south there are the Drumochter Hills. Down the A9 and on the east side of the road, the first option is Meall Chuaich.

    Though lacking distinctive features, Meall Chuaich offers stunning viewpoints over upper Badenoch and Strathspey. Its straightforward ascent, mainly on tracks and an eroded path, makes it an accessible Munro summit, perfect for those seeking a shorter climb. However, the terrain can sometimes be tricky to navigate, with occasional boulders and boggy patches along the way. So, pack your gear accordingly and get ready for a satisfying day out.

     

    A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag & Càrn na Caim

    A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag and Càrn na Caim are often tackled together. This hike starts from the high-altitude car park at Drumochter Pass, leading up a steeply rising moor. Despite initial impressions and the A9 traffic noise, the path soon provides a sense of spaciousness and peace.

    Càrn na Caim, the northern Munro, offers boggy paths but surprisingly good views over the Drumochter Pass. A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag, a broad summit on the wild and desolate plateau, lacks distinct features but is still an enjoyable walk. These Munros may not be the most thrilling, but the easy access and expansive views make them a rewarding half-day hike.

    Càrn Dearg, Càrn Sgulain & A’ Chailleach

    Another fantastic option, but with less driving, is to head to Newtonmore. Just up the Glen Road, to a small car park, are three Munros. All three together make for a big, long day, about 24.5 km / 15.25 miles in total, so choose a summer’s day with plenty of daylight.

    These three make a wonderful adventure with that feeling of space and airiness that the hills in this area have to offer. These are in the Monadhliath (grey hills), while the main Cairngorm range are historically the Monadhruadh (red hills, due to their predominance of pink granite).

     

    Easy Corbetts Near Aviemore

    Meall a’Bhuachaille

    This fine hill is along the Glenmore road, and access is from just behind the Forest & Land Scotland building (which has Cobbs Café, for that post-walk cuppa). This hill offers not one but two fine circuits. Either reach the summit and descend down to the Green Lochan and back along a good forestry track, or head west from the summit to follow the ridge line of undulating tops, which give terrific views to the north and east or to the main Cairngorm plateau in the opposite direction. The descent can be muddy in places, but takes you back through different forestry track to you starting place. This is the longer of these two options.

    Walkhighlands Description

    Meall a' Bhuachaille

    Càrn Dearg Mor

    This hike offers fine walking down Glen Feshie. The hill itself is accessed by a forestry track and it’s summit offers fine views. The rewilding that has occurred in Glen Feshie make this an interesting walk, filled with an abundance of trees, both young and old.

    If energy is plentiful, it’s possible to push on further to take in Leathad an Taobhain as well.

    Walkhighlands Description

    Meallach Mhòr

    Meallach Mhòr sits at the head of Glen Tromie before it goes off down the Gaick Pass and over to Perthshire. This is similar in approach to Càrn Dearg Mòr as Glen Tromie runs parallel to Glen Feshie and can be included with that hill. It’s also possible to do a circuit, combining both glens.

    A bike is a good option for this, otherwise the long daylight hours of summer are recommended.

    Walkhighlands Description

    Càrn na Fhreiceadain

    Càrn na Fhreiceadain sits at the back of Kingussie, making it very accessible by car or bus from Aviemore. It can be done either clockwise or counter-clockwise, with a good track in both directions. It offers a really good day out, with a range of trees on the approach, wide open views from the hill and a plentiful supply of cafes in Kingussie at the end.

    Walkhighlands Description

    Geal-charn Mòr

    Starting from Aviemore, Geal-charn Mòr awaits near the village, nestled on the west side of the A9. The hike offers a straightforward trek along a clear path, with rewarding views along the way. What’s convenient is the accessibility; you can begin this hike right from your doorstep, giving you the satisfaction of not having to drive anywhere to access a hill.

    Walkhighlands Description

    Do These Hills With Us

    Meet the Author: Gill McMillan

    “As a child I skied in Glenshee and loved being outside. At 19 I started hill-walking and have happily worn out many pairs of boots since. I especially enjoy hill-walking, long-distance trails (the Camino de Santiago across Spain and the West Highland Way several times) and wild camping. For me, both personally and professionally, knowing something of the history, folklore and colourful characters of an area really brings the landscape alive. I really enjoy sharing these tales with other people and hearing their tales too.”

    View profileMore by Gill

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