Fiona Outdoor’s five great walks for beginners and families

The Cairngorms National Park is home to some of the UK’s most impressive landscapes, including mountains, hills, moorland, ancient Caledonian pine forest, straths, lochs and rivers. So, it’s no wonder that many walkers visit the park to enjoy a huge variety of walking routes

Here we pick five of the best walks for people looking for a shorter stroll or a route that is perfect for families.

Badenoch way: Alvie to Loch Insh

Loch Insh
Photo credit: Hendy Pollock

Start: Dalraddy Caravan Park, near Alvie
Finish: Loch Insh
Distance: One way is approx 3.5 miles
Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
Map: OS Landranger 35 or OS Explorer 402

This gently undulating route follows the first section of the Badenoch Way. The path is mostly alongside the tranquil River Spey and amid picturesque valley countryside.

It reaches the wider expanse of Loch Insh, which offers splendid views all year round. On a still and bright day, you’ll enjoy a stunning photo opportunity when the surrounding mountains are reflected in the waters.

There are plenty of watersports to try at Loch Insh Outdoor centre. You could walk the same route back or arrange a second car or lift.

See the full 10-mile Badenoch Way.

Tromie Meadows Trail

Start/finish: Insh Marshes RSPB National Nature Reserve, near Kingussie on B970.
Distance: Almost 3 miles
Time: 1.5 to 2 hours (depending on how long you linger)
Map: OL56 Badenoch

This lovely circuit walk follows another section of the Badenoch Way and also heads through the beautiful RSPB nature reserve. You’ll walk through the Invertromie Meadows, where, in summer, you can expect to see an impressive range of plants, including orchids, as well as butterflies.

The path is almost completely flat and perfect for families with younger children. There are several bird hides on this walk so take binoculars. There is a shorter one-mile Invertromie Trail, too.

See the Tromie Meadows route.

Ryvoan Pass

An Lochan Uaine, also called ‘The Green Loch’
Photo credit: VisitScotland

Start/finish: Glenmore Lodge, Rothiemurchus, near Aviemore
Distance: 5 miles
Time: 2 hours 15 mins to 3hrs
Map: OS Explorer 403 Cairn Gorm & Aviemore

Follow in the footsteps of the cattle thieves and drovers of times gone by on this beautiful walking route through a setting of ancient Caledonian pines and pretty countryside.

You can also delight the kids by telling them about the local faeries and An Lochan Uaine for doing their laundry. Local legend tells that the lochan gets its green colour because the fairy folk wash their clothes in it.

The paths and tracks offer mostly easy walking and there is one short but fairly steep ascent. The return section of the walk gives lovely views of Loch Morlich and the wider Cairngorms.  Take a shorter route 1hr by returning from the Loch back the way you came. This section of path is suitable for offroad buggies.

A route is suggested by The AA.

Glenmulliach Forest Loop


Start/finish: Glenmulliach forest on the A939, near Tomintoul
Distance: 3.75 miles
Time: 1.5 to 2  hours
Map: OL58 Braemar

The circular walk is on waymarked paths and a forestry tracks in Glenmulliach forest, which is part of the wider Glenlivet Estate. The walk is fairly easy going although it does include a total ascent of around 130m and several steep stepped sections. Wear walking boots or shoes for good grip.

The route begins and ends by follows a nature trail through the pretty mixed woodlands of Glenmulliach forest. You’ll come across a nature hide, where there are leaflets that help you to spot animals and birds in the area.

On reaching wider forest tracks, the route climbs on more open hillside towards a mast at the highest point. There is a viewpoint with a bench and indicator that reveals the names of the visible hills and villages. The route then heads back downhill to the start.

See Walk Highlands for the Glenmulliach Forest route.

South Esk Trail

Glen Doll
Photo credit: Valerie Campbell

Start/finish:  Take the B955 north from the tone of Kirriemuir to the head of Glen Clova, then follow the minor road to Glen Doll car park
Distance: 2 miles
Time: 1 hour
Map: OS Landranger 44, Ballater & Glen Clova

Glen Clova and Glen Doll are situated towards the south of the Cairngorms National Park and offer some amazing walks. If you have the energy you could head into Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve but for a shorter, easier walk the South Esk Trail.

This atmospheric walk takes you along the pretty River South Esk with some superb views across to the hills. Look out for birds such as dippers and grey wagtail in the river. The route includes some uneven terrain and short, fairly steep slopes with stone steps.

See South Esk Trail.

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