This year experience your summer time break in the Cairngorms, where there is so much to do for everyone.
1. Watch a red squirrel jumping from tree to tree
If you are vigilant (and quiet!) enough for long enough, you will spot one of our cute furry friends doing this – they are present throughout the park, and a jumping joy to witness.
Around the Balmoral Estate is apparently a hot place for red squirrels right now!
2. Treat yourself to a whisky tasting
You can do this at one of our many distilleries. Or, you can do a tasting with specialists like Braemar Highland Experience at the Highland Games Centre.
3. Amble around a Castle’s gardens
Both Blair Castle and Balmoral Castle boast gorgeous, colourful gardens that are a highlight of a visit in summer. Blair Castle, for instance, has the ‘Hercules Garden’, so-called because this walled-garden has a life-sized statue of Hercules, which overlooks the ponds, folly, Chinese bridge and orchard.
4. Savour a coffee at a café with a view
Enjoy a piece of cake at one of our lovely cafes, such as the Old Post Office Cafe Gallery which overlooks Loch Insh, or Loch Insh Watersports Centre which sits beside the same loch. There’s also a cafe at Loch Morlich, one at the foot of the slopes at the Lecht Ski Centre and another, Goodbrand & Ross Tea Room & Gift Shop, just off the SnowRoads.
For more inspiration on cafes, specifically those well placed for cycle routes, see this blog here.
5. Have a picnic at a stunning spot
The Cairngorms regularly tops the lists of great places to have a picnic and there are certainly too many to list here. However, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite was amongst the Caledonian pine, particularly by the ‘Honka Hut’ in the Ballochbuie Forest on Balmoral Estate.
Another favourite picnic place is Loch an Eilein in Rothiemurchus, which is a popular spot but has ample (paid for) parking, another is the (pictured) Loch Kinord at Muir of Dinnet, east of Ballater.
6. Meet a Heilan Coo
There are many places in the Park to spot our furry gingerhaired friends. There’s usually a few milling about in the field by Castle Roy (ruins) at the start of the SnowRoads route near Grantown-on-Spey, for example.
If you want to guarantee a ‘spot’ and add a bit of adrenaline, you could jump on a quad bike ‘Heilan Coo Safari’ at Rothiemurchus!
The Cairngorms is one of the best place in the world to spot a shooting star. Head to the Glenlivet & Tomintoul Dark Sky Park which has attained this status due the the community effort, for instance, to reduce things like light pollution so you can see these shining beams better.
8. Take high tea
But if you’re really after a special, standout experience, then why not take your high tea under the Picasso (there are now two!) at the luxuriously decadent Fife Arms in Braemar.
Or, if you fancy something a little stronger, sip a whisky in the Fife’s new ‘Bertie’s Bar’, named in honour of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, King Edward VII.
9. Feed the reindeer on Cairngorm Mountain
Visitors often cite the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre trip to the mountain as a most memorable, highlight experience of a trip as it combines animals (always a winner!), novelty, storytelling and being out in nature, with views over the entire park.
10. Strike a selfie pose!
Obviously there are many, many wonderful wow spots for you to shoot a selfie – however one of our favourites is definitely the many-mirrored art installation ‘Still’ on the SnowRoads. The other two installations here – ‘The Watchers’ by Corgarff Castle and ‘Connecting Contours’ by Glenshee – are also prime pose places!
11. Play golf
Scotland is, of course, the home of golf so if you’re an enthusiast (or game to try!) then it would be remiss not to swing a club at one of the Park’s Play golf at one of the Park’s 13 courses – like our world-renowned championship course Spey Valley Aviemore. We also have several courses that are particularly suited to kids, like Abernethy’s 9 hole course.
12. Bungee jump
You can do this on your entry – or perhaps exit to leave with a memorable bang! – to the Park, as provider Highland Fling is located at Killiecrankie, the gateway to the Cairngorms.
If you are brave enough to do this, you’ll be jumping off the Garry Bridge and the evidence will be captured on film to marvel over forevermore!
13. Quad bike
Quad biking is an exhilarating activity that usually has the effect of causing huge grins to its participants. You’ll go up and down bumps, through water and even over sand in some cases, all the time while passing through beautiful landscapes (don’t worry, you do get view stops!).
You can find providers who’ll take you through the graceful Caledonian pines of Rothiemurchus.
14. Enjoy a ‘Cairngorms Hot Dog’ in the woods at Alvie
You can try this legendary invention at Alvie Forest Food in the forest by Dalraddy Holiday Park. There’s an outdoor trailer selling all sorts of delicacies, including vegetarian options, as well as outdoor seating too.
15. Hit the brilliant bike trails
There are highly acclaimed bike trail centres at both Laggan Wolfrax, as well as Glenlivet Bike Trails. You’re also able to earn your cake at the cafe and enjoy the pump track just outside too. But you don’t need to go to a centre, or far, to find a good cycle route, both on and off road, in the Cairngorms and wherever you go, you’ll have a blast!