Lairig Ghru


Take a longer walk in the Cairngorms National Park

We have revealed some of the best shorter walks in the park  but perhaps you have more time or energy for a longer hike. There is a  huge network of paths, trails and waymarked routes that cross-cross the different Cairngorm regions with a wealth of easily accessible choices.

Here we help you to discover five of our favourite long distance walks in Cairngorms National Park.

Lairig Ghru

Lairig Ghru
Walking the famous Lairig Ghru

One of Scotland’s best known hill passes, the Lairig Ghru starts in Coylumbridge, near Aviemore, and journeys almost 20 miles to Linn of Dee, west of Braemar.

Walkers climb to a highest point of 835m as they traverse the wild and remote, yet atmospheric and beautiful, landscape of the central Cairngorms.

There is a path for a lot of the route although not always clear and because of its distance, walkers should be prepared for a challenging hike of up to around 10 hours.

Walk Highlands offers a detailed guide to walking the Lairig Ghru.

The Ryvoan Pass

Traversing the stunning Ryvoan Pass (photo credit: David Hatton)

Another classic longer walk near Aviemore, the Ryvoan Pass starts at Glenmore Lodge and heads north to Nethy Bridge.

Walkers will enjoy the atmospheric woodlands of Abernethy Forest and stunning views of Lochan an Uaine, the “green lochan”, during the nine-mile outing. It’s easy to see why the lochan is so-called because on a sunny day the water glistens a lovely aqua green.

The nine-mile route will take most people up to five hours hours to complete. To return you will need to organise your own transport or coincide with a local bus. See Traveline Scotland.

The East Highland Way

Ruthven Barracks on the East Highland Way (photo credit Steve Neal)

The unofficial long-distance walk, the East Highland Way, travels 82 miles (132km) from Fort William to Aviemore, in the Cairngorms National Park. The route links other long-distance walking trails, the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way with the Speyside Way.

The East Highland Way enters the Park at Arverikie Estate Laggan and journeys further east to Newtonmore, Kincraig before finishing at the outdoors town of Aviemore.

A 15.4-mile section between Newtonmore and Kincraig offers a great day of walking through beautiful moorland and past the southern shore of Loch Gynack.

You’ll also walk past Ruthven Barracks, which were built in the early 18th century after the first Jacobite uprising, and across Insh Marshes, an RSPB reserve where you should keep your eyes peeled for a variety of birds.

Close to Kincraig you might like to visit Loch Insh, which is home to a watersports activity centre.

The Speyside Way

The Speyside Way approaching Boat of Garten

Another long-distance path, the Speyside Way, is waymarked all the way from Buckie on the north-east coast, into the Cairngorms National Park at Mains of Dalvey and south to Kincraig. There is an optional spur from Cragganmore to Tomintoul.

An 11-mile (17.5km) section from Grantown-on-Spey to Boat of Garten provides the ideal outing for a longer but still fairly easy-going walk. The route is mostly flat and travels through pretty countryside to give a flavour of spending time outdoors but rarely far from civilisation.

Allow at least four hours for the walk along the Speyside Way and add extra time if you want to visit some of the attractions on the route, such as the Osprey Centre at RSPB Loch Garten.

Glen Tilt Loop

Glen Tilt
Hillwalkers using the Glen Tilt right of way near The Falls of Tarf, Tayside and Clackmannanshire Area. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

To the south of the Park and close to the historic settlement of Blair Atholl, a waymarked walk of some nine miles (15km) heads up one side of picturesque Glen Tilt and then returns down the other side.

The route, which starts and finishes at Old Bridge of Tilt car park, is on easy-to-find paths and tracks, as well as quiet roads. You enjoy a peaceful stroll and the chance to stare down at the river as you cross it on old stone bridges. Keep your eyes and ears alert for wildlife, too.

See Glen Tilt walk for further details.

There are so many longer walking routes to choose from in the Cairngorms National Park. Look out for more ideas in the future.

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