5 Short walks in the Cairngorms
One of the questions we get asked most frequently from guests at Fraoch Lodge is a walk recommendation. Our accommodation guests are looking for short walks in the Cairngorms which they can complete without a guide.
People will be looking for all kinds of walks – some without much ascent; some without much time commitment. However, most people are looking for a good viewpoint.
We’ve picked out some of our favourites here, but do bear in mind that walks which are most accessible are also most popular. You might not be on your own, but you still won’t be part of a crowd.
Meall a’Bhuachaille – approx. 4 hours
This is virtually the most popular walk in the are, but for a reason. Not only is it very accessible, with clear waymarked paths, but it’s also in Glenmore just a few minutes drive from the centre of Aviemore and accessible by public bus.
We usually park by Glenmore Lodge and start the walk here. The path starts from the end of the road and heads up past the Green Lochan and on to Ryvoan Bothy. At the bothy you can take a break and check the bothy out before starting the climb up the hill. It is a steep path which zigzags backwards and forwards along the hillside before levelling out towards the top of the hill. Bear mind before you set out that no matter how warm it is before you set out, it could be pretty breezy on the summit and you should always have an extra layer with you in case you stop for a wee bit on the top to take in the view.
From the summit, you head down to a coll where the path splits. You can continue along the ridge to further summits like Craiggowrie, or you can head down on the basic circuit into Glenmore. The path ends up at the Glenmore Forest Visitor Centre and Cafe, near the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, where you can pick up the walking track back to Glenmore Lodge.
Ord Ban – 2.5 – 3.5 hours
Right next to one of the most popular walks on the Rothiemurchus estate, the wee diversion to the top of Ord Ban is surprisingly quiet. The majority of visitors stick religiously to the wide path circumnavigating Loch an Eilean. This is a beautiful route through some spectacular Caledonian pine forests, which though stunning, doesn’t offer many views above loch level. (NB – if you’re there at the right time of year you’ll be able to snack on wild blueberries as you go around the loch.) If you do go to the top of Ord Ban, you will be rewarded by surprisingly panoramic views.
Farletter Crag and Uath Lochains – up to 3 hours
The joy of this particular walk is that it is not accesible by public transport. It is possible to reach it along the Badenoch Way and you can drive to the start, but you are far more likely to see locals out to stretch their legs or walk the dog, than you are to bump into our visitors to the area. It is particularly beautiful to catch the setting sun here, as you can see in the photos below.
Viewpoints walk, Grantown on Spey – 1 to 2 hours
This is a great wee walk with magnificent views of the mountains beyond. There is a marker at the top of the hill which points out what you’re seeing from the top. It’s a circular walk from the centre of town. It takes you up along next to a stream and a wee waterfall to the top of a crag looking out over the whole of Strathspey.
This walk is accessible by public transport though as it starts from Grantown and not Aviemore it is less populara and more likely to offer you unique photo opportunities.
Craigellachie Nature Reserve view point walk – 1 to 2 hours
Despite being walking distance from the centre of Aviemore, this walk is surprisingly quiet. It is more than likely that you’ll bump into someone else on the route, but you could walk in your own space most of the way.
We highly recommend this walk if you’ve got a few hours to spare waiting for your train or for pick up in Aviemore. It’s very easy to get to the walk. It starts from the youth hostel in Aviemore. Drop your bags off safely in Aviemore – you should be able to store them at the station, or if you’re lucky the youth hostel might be able to look after them for you. Then take the underpass beneath the A9 and follow the signs for the viewpoint. It’s quite a short walk, and if you have less than an hour to spare you could just walk around the lochans at the bottom of the crag.
There’s a clear path up to the top of the crag for a splendid view across Aviemore and the high Cairngorms beyond. Do be aware though that there is quite some footfall on the path and in winter it can get icy.
The view from the top – 3 generations made it up the hill!
Full details of all these walks plus maps can be found on the Walkhighlands website but you can also pick our brains if you’re staying here. Some of the routes can form part of our self-guided itineraries.
These are just a few of the examples of wee walks you can do when you come for a visit to the Cairngorms National Park. They can be attempted by almost anyone and included in a day when you also visit a distillery or go on another adventure like the Zipwire in Alvie