In Scotland we call the October half-term the ‘tattie holidays’ because, in the past, this was the time when pupils were let off school to go out and help pick the annual potato yield in the fields. Luckily for them, tattie holidays are much less about hard work and much more about having fun these days and the Cairngorms National Park certainly has much of that on offer in October.
Here’s our list of some of the best things to do this October break.
This firm favourite returns year after year and gets spookier each time. Watch out for Dracula’s Bride and strange goings on! Bring the holidays to a dramatic close over the 26th-27th October weekend and get along to the legendary ‘Foam Days’ and see the Wild Water Coaster like you have never seen it before.
You and your family are invited to ‘Witches Kitchen Nightmares’ at Blair Castle this Halloween season. Kids can enjoy the Broomsticks Quiz inside the Castle. There will be Halloween themed baking in the Restaurant and fancy dress for adults and children in the Ballroom. Or an Outdoor Halloween Scavenger Hunt around St Bride’s Kirk and Diana’s Grove – with a small Halloween souvenir at the end! You can also take a wander round the beautiful 9 acre walled Hercules Garden.
High up above the valley, jump in a tube and ride the helter skelter track down. Kids love this and pulling the tubes back up to the start tires them out for the day. Win win!
The Aviemore Half Marathon and 10k on Sunday 13th brings friends and families out to tackle one of the most scenic courses in Scotland. On the Saturday the kids get to join in the fun and win a medal on completion of the 1 mile fun run around the Macdonald Aviemore Resort.
The porridge challenge brings competitors from across the globe to compete for the coveted Golden Spurtle® trophy and title of ‘World Porridge Making Champion’. Young People can compete for the Silver Spurtle™ Trophy. Who will make the porridge too hot, too cold or just right!? Watch the pipe band parade kick off the day and taste test the porridge.
What a way to get your adrenaline rush and check out the Autumn colours as you fly through the trees on Alvie Estate. This is a great activity for kids of 5+, a guided journey made up of fourteen zip wires along a 2km course flying high over a stunning river gorge, with zips starting gently and getting bigger, higher and faster as you go.
This open air museum is a great day out for all the family and – even better – entry is free! Kids will love travelling back in time and visiting the sweetie shop of yesteryear (where you can actually buy treats!) and the old school house. A wee walk through the forest will take you to the recreated 1700s Highland Township, used as a location for the TV series Outlander, which will get imaginations firing!
If you can make it on 17th October, too, there’s a special ‘Heritage in Action’ day where you can try out weaving, leatherwork and old-style cooking for yourself.
Castles are always a hit with all the family with their mix of history, high drama and breathtaking views. Braemar Castle is a particularly good option this October as it’s running an exhibition of its military history (included in entrance fee) so there are plenty of weapons, from pistols to swords, on display to wow the kids (and big kids too!).
Come and see how big Hamish, the first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years, is getting! For maximum fun factor, check out the Park’s website and plan your visit so you coincide with the feeding times of the animals and get to hear the expert guides tell you about the wild lives of the furry residents!
Whatever your group’s age or stage, from tiny tots to towering teens, the Cairngorms will have a suitable walk. For the wee ones, check out this blog on wee walks, and for bigger ones, how about conquering a Munro or two in the half term? Be inspired with this blog, or this one, with plenty of great Munro suggestions.
11. Biking the Cairngorms
As with walks, there is something for everyone when it comes to biking in the Park. For inspiration on great mountain biking routes, check out this blog by blogger Fiona Outdoors. Or, if you’re more of a road biker, then have a look at this article. No excuses not to get on yer bike this tattie holidays, whatever the weather!
12. Red deer stag rutting season
There are few noises more unique, eerie and atmospheric than the sound of the roaring red deer stags at dusk during the October rutting (breeding) season. So that you can witness this unforgettable spectacle, there are various guided walks taking place throughout the month, including on the Atholl Estate, Mar Lodge Estate and Glen Doll.
Check out our online calendar for the different options, Mar Lodge’s walks are called ‘Clash of the Titans’.