Cairngorms Travel TipsPosted: 2009-06-23
I had the very great pleasure of visiting the Cairngorms National Park late last autumn. To say I enjoyed myself is a major understatement; it was fantastic! Here are my top tips of what to see in the Cairngorms.
- Loch Morlich - the largest loch in the park, Loch Morlich lies at the foot of Cairn Gorm itself. Trails lead around the loch, and there is boat hire available.
- Carrbridge - this pretty village is known for its medieval packhorse bridge. The remains of the single-span bridge still stand above the rushing river below, and the bridge is easily visible from a viewing area.
- Abernethy Forest - near Nethy Bridge. This ancient forest surrounds Loch Garten (see below). Trails lead through absolutely fabulous woodland, around the shores of Loch Garten, to the quiet little loch of Loch Mallachie. Abernethy is unlike any other forest I have ever seen in the UK, a remnant of the ancient Caledonian pinewoods that once covered this region.
- Loch Garten - famous for the Osprey Centre (seasonal opening) which frequently features on BBC Springwatch.
- Ruthven Barracks - a Cairngorm landmark, easily visible from the A9 at Kingussie. The barracks was built atop a high mound in 1719 as part of the English attempts to control the Highlands.
- Rothiemurchus Estate - (external link) a wonderful area of woodlands, riverside walks, and simply fabulous countryside. There is a maze of footpaths through the estate, and the Autumn colours are wonderful.
- Braemar - a popular village in the less-visited south of the Cairngorms, Braemar is famous for the Highland Games which take place here each August. on the eastern outskirts of the village is medieval Braemar Castle, while to the west is a lovely nature reserve. This is fantastic walking country, and footpaths lead off in all directions for both short and long walks. The scenery is quite magnificent.
- Balmoral Castle - Queen Victoria's little place in the country, Balmoral is small by royal palace standards, but the location beside the River Dee is quite wonderful, with views to the east and west along the river valley. The castle is reached by a historic bridge built by famed Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdon Brunel for the Queen.
- Corgarff Castle - if ever a place deserved the description 'desolate', it is Corgarff Castle. More tower house than a traditional castle, Corgarff stands atop a small hill below the great bulk of the Cairngorm mountains. The best place to get a sense of the grandeur of the scenery is from the parking area on the A939.
- Linn o'Dee - a favourite picnic area for Queen Victoria, the Linn is a deep chasm on the River Dee, where the water rushes down between twisting rock banks. Reached by road 7 miles west of Braemar. There is a network of trails through the woods and along the river.
I didn't know what to expect when I visited the Cairngorms. What I found was a stunningly beautiful area of lochs and mountains, ancient woodland, and beautiful river valleys. It is one of the prettiest places in the UK, especially in Autumn, when the colours are otherwordly vivid. I highly recommend a visit.