Why You Should Escape the City for the Cairngorms

When you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life, so the saying goes. But perhaps it’s not so much that you’re tired of the city and more that your mind and your body need a break from it, so you can come back refreshed and raring to go again.

Cities can be exhausting; the rushing, the concrete, the noise, the smog, the constant commerce. You don’t realise until you escape them how much you were hankering after fresh air, greenery, open space and time to talk and enjoy the moment.

There is no easier escape from London than the Caledonian Sleeper to the stark contrast of the Cairngorms National Park, where you’ll be blown away by the world-class experiences on offer. Just board at Kings Cross in the evening and wake up for the weekend in Aviemore, where even a short stay is guaranteed to reinvigorate your spirits.

Here are 5 reasons you should escape the city and head for the hills:

1. You’ll feel at home immediately

Disembarking from the Caledonian Sleeper will feel like entering a beautiful new world, as if you’re stepping out of the wardrobe into Narnia (which was, in fact filmed here…). However, very soon you will feel at home. The locals are renowned for their friendliness and everything you could possibly want to do is easily on your doorstep; whether it’s biking or hiking or watersports or whisky tasting, the travel distances between attractions are easily manageable, meaning you rarely need to be walking or on wheels for more than 15 minutes. A far cry from the London Underground! You’ll feel like you’ve been away for weeks, even if it’s only been a couple of days. When you leave, you’ll already have your ‘local’ pub or café.

Stepping off the train in to Narnia
Stepping off the train in to Narnia

2. It’s A Better Health Boost Than Any Bootcamp

Short, fierce, calorie-busting workouts are all the rage today but a trip to the Cairngorms will reconnect you with the joy of exercise. Whether it’s a core-conditioning paddle down the River Spey or a relaxing ramble through an ancient forest or a high-octane mountain bike ride, you will remember that the best exercise isn’t just for health, it’s for enjoyment. And, if you want a harder workout, just add a child to your paddleboard or the back of your bike! Don’t forget, either, the extra health benefits of fresh air and a natural environment. You won’t find dirt in your hanky when you get home, that’s for sure.

Paddleboarding with Rothiemurchus
Paddleboarding with Rothiemurchus

3. Fantastic for Foodies

The wonderful thing about spending so much time in the great outdoors is that you will have earned your treats! Which is just as well because the Cairngorms has so many delicious eateries to choose from. If you’re partial to cakes, there’s a plethora of unique cafes with the personal touch from The Old Post Office Cafe Gallery in Kincraig to the award winning Bothy Bakery in Grantown on Spey to Nethy Bridge’s Nethy House Cafe. Similarly, if you’re looking for a memorable gastro-experience why not lunch at Cairngorm Mountain and take in the view? Or you could sample the craft beer from Aviemore’s own Cairngorm Brewery. The uber-adventurous can even hunt, shoot or fish their dinner on one of the local estates. For those that fancy a taste of Scottish culture, then dining at the Cairngorm Hotel over live music is a must. If you’re lucky, you might even meet one of the many local characters, like Spud the Piper!


4. Mindfulness comes naturally

There’s a lot of hype currently about “mindfulness” – living in the moment – but there is no better place to practise mindfulness, and feel alive, than in the Cairngorms. The constantly changing weather, often four seasons in one day, along with the dramatic scenery and rare wildlife, provide constant cues to stop and take stock. And if it’s a feeling of calm you’re after, research proves that a natural setting is much more conducive to wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and stress hormone production. Studies show that if you’re feeling stressed that spending time outside will quickly improve your mood.

Find a sunny spot of peace and calm to practice mindfullness in the Cairngorms
Find a sunny spot of peace and calm to practice mindfulness in the Cairngorms

5. There is something for everyone

Even the most diverse (we hasten to say “difficult”…) individuals will find their niche here. Introverts and extroverts alike. Sports enthusiasts and creative types. Nature lovers and adrenaline junkies. Little people or big ones! All will be impressed at how the Cairngorms offers some of the best, most memorable experiences in the world – that’s the reasons, after all, the Park was named by National Geographic in the Top 50 of the World’s “Last Great Places”. For instance, our wildlife park is home to the UK’s only female polar bear. The area also regularly plays host to major events in all sectors – such as musical festivals, sports fixtures like the European Golf Challenge Tour at Spey Valley Golf Course and physical challenges like Aviemore Half Marathon.

Polar Bear at the Highland Wildlife Park
Polar Bear at the Highland Wildlife Park

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