The Cairngorms

Campervan in The Cairngorms

In the heart of Scotland lies the Cairngorms National Park, the biggest in Britain and one of the most diverse in terms of both landscape and nature. It’s a working park and for the campervan road tripper, provides an unrivalled selection of amazing scenery, outdoor activities, cultural heritage and visitor attractions.

We’re going to start our road trip in one of Scotland’s famed distilleries. Dalwhinnie Distillery stands in the Cairngorm National Park at the heart of the Scottish Highlands in the village of Dalwhinnie. It’s on the A9 approximately 125 miles north of Edinburgh. You can either stop here for the full distillery tour, or, if you’ve already parked up for the night, obviously the whisky tasting too!

Once recovered it’s back in the van and heading off up the A889 to Laggan. In the Upper Spey Valley, the area was brought to prominence by the TV series “Monarch of the Glen”, where much of it was filmed. The village of Laggan is surrounded by the Monadhliath and Grampian mountain ranges. It’s worth keeping an eye out for the Golden Eagles and Ospreys known to frequent the area.

 Join the A86 and head north through Newtonmore, stopping off at the highland Folk Museum if that’s your thing, and onwards towards Kingussie, capital of the area known as Badenoch and home to a myriad of activities from rambling, pony trekking, climbing and golf to name but a few. It also boasts some spectacular views of the park. No visit would be complete without a stroll to the historically important ruins of Ruthven Barracks.

A great place to park up is the Rothiemurchus Estate. It’s set amongst the Caledonian pine trees and has been described as wild camping with modern facilities. Now take the B970 towards Feshiebridge where we’re going to stop and join the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail. Set in the Inshriach forest, the trail is peppered throughout with though provoking sculptures depicting “icons of patriotism and the tragedies of world”. Nearby is Loch an Eilean (loch of the island) which back in 2010 was voted Britain’s Best Picnic spot.  With its 13th century island castle and beautiful woodland surroundings, it’s not hard to understand why!

Back in the van and re-join the B970 north before turning right towards Coylumbride. Turn right and less than a mile along is the Rothiemurchus Clay Shooting Ground if you fancy yourself as a bit of a sharp shooter. Continue along the road until you arrive at Loch Morlich with its sandy beaches and Boathouse Café. Here you can enjoy a variety of water sports including, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing and sailing. No need to book, just turn up on the day.

Continue along the road until you get to the Base Station of the funicular railway. It’s definitely worth the fare to the Top Station where the Ptarmigan Restaurant is located with panoramic views from over 3,500ft. Don’t miss the viewing terrace, exhibition, shop and the highest post box in the British isles.

Next head back down to Aviemore, an all year round destination with plenty to keep you and the family occupied. It’s a great place to park up for a couple of days and explore the area. Check out the Highland reindeer at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre and don’t miss the impressive ospreys at the RSPB Scotland Loch Garten Osprey Centre. The area is renowned for its winter ski facilities and is now a popular destination for those of you into walking, hiking, biking and climbing.
Leaving Aviemore, continue north along the A95 until you reach Grantown on Spey. Here you’ll find some spectacular forest walks, before returning to the town for a bite of lunch and a visit to the local museum.  Now head east on the A939 and the B9136 where you’ll arrive at Drumin Castle, a ruined tower house near Glenlivet. There is a car park by the River Livet and a short footpath leads you through the trees to the Castle. The walk then continues along the bank with some spectacular views over the local area. Feeling good after your exercise what better way to spend your afternoon than a trip to the Glenlivet Distillery, taking in the history of this famous Speyside institution.