+44 (0) 1479 831 331 info@scotmountainholidays.com

 0 items - £0.00

All things biking Suggested things to do

Top 10 cyclist-friendly cafes/bars in the Cairngorms

COVID and retirement plans have created complete havoc in the cafe market here. Our list of cafes is now seriously outdated and we’ve been forced to revise it completely as when re-reading the list in October 2021, we noticed that at least half of the recommended cafes have now closed. Watch this space over the next week or so and we’ll give you the new improved list.

Graeme McLean of Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland recently described Aviemore to me as having a “cycle culture”. At the time this meant nothing to me, until they went on to explain that when you visit Aviemore you become seduced into cycling just because it seems to be the thing to do. When everyone else seems to be cycling around this must mean that it is the thing to do. Hence in our area it is not difficult to come up with a list of cyclist friendly cafes.

Certainly here at Fraoch Lodge we have noticed a definite increase in the number of people driving around the area with bikes mounted on the car and also a definite increase of bike use on the tracks.

These are the cafes we are most familiar with and are therefore almost all on the north side of the Cairngorms, in and around Aviemore. However, we will be in Deeside for a week in July and will be very happy to update our list after 16th July with some additions from Braemar, Ballater etc – if we find anything which meets our criteria: superb food (especially cakes), somewhere to safely leave your bike locked, somewhere to work on your bike, bike/cycling route advice, bike/cycling related reading materials, maps for sale.

After consultation with my fellow members of Petal Power (the Cairngorms area female mountain biking group), I’ve come up with the following list.

Listed in order of their proximity to Fraoch Lodge:

1. Osprey Coffee House (Boat of Garten)

The Osprey Coffee House has come on in leaps and bounds since it re-opened after Covid. It is now owned and managed by Andreas and Tanya Perch. The Perches have plenty of Coffee Shop experience having previously run their own enterprise in Val d’Isere (French Alps). They offer soup as well as “Fika” (coffee and cake, Swedish style).

Routes close by: Speyside Way, Burma Road, Ryvoan Pass plus numerous local routes through the woods, Woodland Wheels (Boat of Garten pump track)

Cycle friendly cafe in Boat of Garten. Outdoor stables and bike stand available.

Cycle friendly cafe in Boat of Garten. Outdoor stables and bike stand available.

2. Nethy House

Unfortunately Nethy House is currently up for sale but it is a highlight of any route in the area. They get any meat they  need for their lunch options from Balliefurth Farm Shop next door (the highest quality of meat). Cairngorms Connect venison is also available through the butchers at the farm shop. If you eat meat, certainly make the time to fit in a visit.

Routes nearby: Speyside Way, Abernethy Forest, Forest Lodge, Ryvoan Pass, plenty of forest routes and Rynettin also a highlight

3. Carrbridge Kitchen

Delicious smells were emanating from the door when I went by to take a peek at the menu. Great selection of hot food. The Cullen Skink is exceptional and the cakes are very hard to resist, especially the cheesecake.

Recommended by Petal Power

Routes nearby: Burma Road, Tomatin on Route 7, off road route to Boat of Garten via Route 7

 

Carrbridge has 2 options to choose between depending on if you would rather have cake or a light meal.

 

4. Ryvoan Cafe, Aviemore

Despite it’s proxmity to Mike’s Bikes, I have yet to sample the delights of Ryvoan Cafe personally, but I have had universally good reports from friends who have been there.

Under the personal supervision of owners, Nina and Daniel, Ryvoan Cafe isn’t just Aviemore’s latest neighbourhood deli-cafe – they’re passionate about creating a warm and inviting space where you can unwind and indulge.

“Our menus are carefully crafted to delight your palate with simplicity and finesse. We embrace the ever-changing seasons, incorporating locally sourced ingredients for an authentic and memorable dining experience. From sophisticated snacks and charcuterie to be shared, perfectly complemented by our selection of organic wines, to drinks and dining that draw visitors from far and wide.”

Routes close by: Rothiemurchus estate, Lairig Ghru, Glen Feshie and Glenmore to Inshriach

Cake & a cafe stop - Is it a reason for cycling?

Cake & a cafe stop – Is it a reason for cycling?

 

(Petal Power comments) Inschriach Nursery Cafe have always been very welcoming, even when wet and muddy.

5. The Barn, Coylumbridge

The Barn does take away cake etc as well as eat in. There is usually plenty of choice and there is the Rothiemurchus shop just across the car park if you’re looking for any treats to take home. Meat from the estate is also sold there.

Routes nearby: Burma Road, Loch an Eilean, Rothiemurchus estate, Speyside Way, Badenoch Way, Glenn Einich

Plenty of imaginative cake options at the Mountain Cafe. This particular cake is one of ours but the Mountain Cafe has spectacular offerings too.

Plenty of imaginative cake options at the Mountain Cafe. This particular cake is one of ours but the Mountain Cafe has spectacular offerings too.

6. Pine Marten Bar (Glenmore)

Another popular spot right next to Glenmore campsite and very convenient if you’re looping around Loch Morlich or more widely through Rothiemurchus estate or the Ryvoan pass. They have a bar but also do a roaring trade in coffee, hot chocolate and hot food plus they have a wee shop attached if you just want a snack. If you’re lucky enough to be out for a late ride you might even catch some of the live entertainment.

Routes nearby: Ryvoan pass, Glenmore Forest Park, Loch Morlich

7. The Old Post Office Kincraig

One of my favourite places to stop if I’m ever over this way. I just love the atmosphere and Tony himself (owner and front of house) is a keen cyclist too. They go the extra mile for cyclists for sure. There isn’t a massively extensive menu but everything they offer is top quality and reflects their Italian heritage. Ann Vastano (co-owner of the cafe) is a renowned local artist who sells prints and cards of her work, alongside the orginals displayed in the cafe.

8. Coffee Still (Glenlivet) – SEASONAL

Being a purpose built MTB centre, the Coffee Still at Glenlivet ticks all the best practice boxes. Currently run by the owners of Nethy House. There are bike racks, wee track to keep the kids happy, trail maps for sale, bike hire available, range of food – not only cakes but hot food like pizza and burgers too. The trails are great too and very family friendly.

Routes nearby: Glenlivet MTB trails, Glenlivet Distillery routes, Kinkardine Hills, Ladder Hills

Cyclist friendly cafes

The Coffee Still at Glenlivet MTB trails – right next to a wee practice track which keeps the kids occupied while waiting for your order to arrive.

Humps and Bumps to keep the kids keen while the food is being cooked in true Slow Food tradition from the best of local ingredients. (Glenlivet MTB Trails)

Humps and Bumps to keep the kids keen while the food is being cooked in true Slow Food tradition from the best of local ingredients. (Glenlivet MTB Trails)

 

Not forgetting the south side of the park (nominated by Petal Power, an all-female mountain biking club in the Cairngorms, centred around Aviemore and Nethybridge)

9. The Bothy at Braemar

The Bothy is an excellent relaxing spot attached to Braemar Mountain Sports. Bikes can be hired here and the back of the cafe looks out over the river. The cakes and hot chocolate also deserve some praise. Plenty of choice at the cake bar.

cyclist friendly cafes

The Bothy at Braemar

10. The Milk House at Cambus O’May

The Milk Hoose at Cambus O’May cheese celebrates everything cheesy! Toasties with a twist, using all our cheeses with different fillings creating flavours that will amaze the palate. Cambus O’May cheese with haggis was a particular favourite on St. Andrews day but all year round, menu includes homemade soup, toasties, cheese platters & croque monsieur.
 
The Milk Hoose cook has won awards as a pastry chef and her traybake and scones, accompanied by fine Italian coffee are a must for any visitor. In the style of an auld milk hoose there is old dairy equipment on the walls and their cheese heritage on the menu.

 

Honorary mentions nearby the Cairngorms

  1. Pottery Cafe (Laggan) – around the corner from Laggan Wolftrax

Linda, who runs the Pottery cafe and bunkhouse, has been baking bread and cake for more years than she cares to count. Her cakes are always light and the soup is delicious. The cafe is a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Laggan Wolftrax and though I haven’t eaten at Laggan so I can’t compare the two – Linda’s opening hours were longer and she’s open all year round. When I was at Laggan (before the main season opened) the cafe was closed.

Routes nearby: Laggan Wolftrax

2. Olive Tree Cafe (Logie Steading) – on the Dava Way, just outside Forres

Logie Steading is a collection of up-market operators selling all kinds of things from second-hand books to plants to pictures and not forgetting food. You can also catch up with

Across Scotland:

From the Daily Record: Top cycle friendly cafes in Scotland

http://www.skinnytyres.com/2010/10/14/great-cycling-cafes-is-scotland/

Why come to Scotland in winter?

10 reasons in pictures

Have you ever wondered what all the fuss is about? Scotland. Why? Especially in winter must be far too cold and far too dangerous. Take a look – yes, it’s proper winter but isn’t that preferable to wet rain, umbrellas and grey days with little to differentiate between summer and winter, except for the lack of leaves on the trees.

17268.jpg

Photo Credit: Paul Tomkins/VisitScotland

1. A Snow Hole Expedition:

Digging out a snow hole site in the Cairngorms under the guidance of Andy Bateman of Scot Mountain Holidays. It’s not quite Sweden’s ice hotel as you have to create the living space yourself, but they’ll have a relatively comfortable night out of the wind, cocooned in their sleeping bags enjoying being cooked for and served a three course meal by their guide.

 

Build a snowhole in Scotland

Build your own snow hole in the Cairngorms

 

kintail in winter

2. Winter mountaineering and ridge walking:

Hiking along the ridges of Argyll, Kintail or Glencoe – space to yourself away from all the crowds and views which stretch for miles under clear skies. We often visit the west coast of Scotland in March to bag some winter Munros: we’ve run trips in Argyll, Glencoe and Kintail. For this year’s offering check the calendar or the Munro bagging page. Some of our clients have left from these trips with the most spectacular images – but those are for another blog.

IMG_0741.JPG

Photo credit: Dave Downing

3. Cross country skiing:

The beauty of Glenmore in the winter. Snow laden trees and cross-country skiing opportunities. Short days are not always a disadvantage as they allow for the most spectacular photographic opportunities, as seen above.

 

winter skills in the Cairngorms

4. A winter skills course:

Safety skills for walking in the winter hills, demonstrated here by Andy Bateman – ice axe arrest. Legitimate playing in the snow, but as part of a learning process on how to avoid a sliding fall.

 

033.JPG

5. Winter photography:

Scotland on a cold, clear, crisp day in winter. What’s not to like, especially if you like to take stunning pictures.

 

Winter in the Cairngorms

6. Reindeer:

The Cairngorm Reindeer herd in their natural environment. When out walking in the Park, you can come face to face with the reindeer who roam the hills in winter.

Ptarmigan

7. Ptarmigan:

The Scottish Munros, particularly the Cairngorms, are the only area of the UK where you can spot Ptarmigan. Ptarmigan change their plummage twice a year – they have a summer coat, a breeding plummage and a winter coloration to blend in with the snow. You can almost step on the Ptarmigan sometimes as they like to conserve their energy by walking rather than flying if they can and they nest on the ground – there being no trees at the elevation where they are found.

P1010675.JPG

8. Burns Night:

a chance to savour some of Scotland’s most famous and unique produce. Haggis is a traditional meal to celebrate Scotland’s greatest bard, whose influence can be found everywhere from the Birks of Aberfeldy (where there is a thinking/writing seat dedicated to Rabbie Burns) to the Winking Owl in Aviemore, where the great bard is said to have taken breakfast. You might not even be aware of his influence on your own life from: “And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne” – which you’ll have sung if you’ve ever brought the New Year in; to “O’ my luve’s like a red, red rose, that’s newly sprung in June” and a special Scottish grace for a meal: “Soem hae meat and canna eat And some would eat that want it. But we hae meat and we can eat, sae let the Lord be thankit.”

Burns Night is 25th January and is celebrated throughout Scotland with a haggis meal and the address to the haggis – written by Rabbie Burns.

 

dec_photos_025.jpg

9. Colours of winter:

Scotland is famous for the colours of heather in the summer but the winter can be colourful too. This is the time of year that you’ll get to appreciate the sunset. The snow also reflects the light of the moon & stars if the sky is clear, so a night out in winter can be glorious.

 

10. Snow is fun:

snow will entertain the kids for hours and cost nothing, but make sure you’re well stocked with socks, gloves and hot chocolate!

 

Useful links:

Have fun in the snow: 

Snow related activities for kids:

Free mountain weather service:

Met Office forecast for the hills:

Scottish Avalanche Information service:

 

 

Top tips: what to pack for a day hike in Scotland

We are frequently asked what to pack for a day hike in the Highlands, usually by our guests preparing for their guided walking tour with us. People often ponder on whether they should pack shorts, a sun hat, sunscreen. What gloves to bring etc – the list goes on.

Bear in mind, that if you are planning to head out on your own or at least without a guide, then you will also need to pack the following gear and be familiar with how to use it.

map & compass: you will need a good quality, local, walking map such as Harveys or Ordnance Survey (we stock the 1:50,000 OS map for our area). Do not rely on your mobile phone mapping.

You should also always pack some food (even small snacks) and some water. It is possible to refill your water bottle along the route, but take care if you are following a low level popular path. If there is a lot of livestock in the area, it would be best not to refill your bottle unless you have a water purifier with you.

Long or short pants (trousers)

Always tempting if you happen to strike the good weather to whip out the shorts to go for a hike. It is however worth bearing in mind that Scotland is not without its pests. There are ticks in Scotland which hang on the undergrowth, particularly at low levels waiting for someone or something to come past. Ticks are often carried by deer who rub them off on the vegetation. The ticks wait there for the next host to continue their life cycle. They can wait for years.

If you do pick up a tick it is not the end of the world. There is Lymes Disease in the UK which can be treated with antibiotics – but early removal of the tick is key to the prevention of the disease. We have tick removers here at Fraoch Lodge. Make sure you check yourself over at the end of the day. However, you can minimise the risk of picking up a tick by wearing long trousers and gaiters over the top of your boots. Generally speaking dog walkers and golfers are often at more risk than hikers of returning with ticks.

P1010620_2.JPG

 

Long or short sleeves

Unless you’re going to be battling through particularly overgrown parts of the countryside, the length of your sleeves is not too vital and the rate at which you get cold will determine whether you think long or short sleeves suitable for the day.

 

Boots or approach shoes

There are not many well graded, smooth paths in the Scottish hills. Most tracks are relatively rough with loose stones and rocks. It is usually sensible to use over the ankle walking boots to protect your ankles from turning and also to keep your feet as dry as possible. Leather boots, though heavier, should provide the best protection and will be generally more waterproof than gortex lined fabric boots.

Cairngorms - LGL options

 

Gortex or Nikwax Analogue/Paramo waterproofs

Waterproof shell jackets are by far the most popular. Most shops stock a wide range of jackets designed with gortex fabric. Andy himself prefers to wear Paramo clothing or Cioch direct waterproofs. Both these companies use the same material. Cioch Direct specialise in made to measure clothing. The advantage that the Nikwax analogue material has over gortex is that it is designed to be reproofed after washing so is likely to last you longer. The jackets can also be returned for repairs at little or no cost. The disadvantage is that the material is heavier and can prove to be too warm in the height of the summer – though at an average year round temperature of 0oC, the Paramo jackets are usually suitable for the Cairngorm plateau.

Hat and gloves

Always useful to include a warm hat and gloves at the bottom of your pack as it can be cool on the hill tops even in August.

Base/Mid layers

The most sensible attitude to your clothing for hiking is to make sure you have several light layers which will provide maximum flexibility rather than one or 2 choices. Make sure that your layers are not cotton options as you could cool off very rapidly, should your cotton layer become damp whereas synthetic or wool layers will either dry more rapidly or stop you from cooling down too much.

Rucksack/Backpack

The most useful size of packpack to bring with you is a 35 litre pack. This will be large enough to take all excess clothing, camera, packed lunch etc. Smaller than this may mean that you have to limit what you take on the hill, particularly in winter.

what to pack for a day hike

Wandering into the Cairngorms

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries about the clothing/gear you are intending to bring with you for your Scottish vacation.

Want to get more out of your hike?

If you’d like to book a guide for your day hike, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Andy is extremely knowledgeable about the Highlands of Scotland from history to nature and everything in between. A hike with him is an introduction to everything you wanted to know.

Email: info at scotmountainholidays.com

Tel: +44 1479 831 331

It’s all about the gear for hiking Scotland

Whether you are caught in a white-out, needing to navigate trails or provide emergency first aid, it is imperative hikers are properly equipped on their Highland adventures. Otherwise we would rely too heavily on Mountain Rescue for preventative emergencies!

27206995473_a2b6c32fa2_o

Keeping gear dry is a must. Photo courtesy of Complete Cairngorms participant, Alison Hedley

Here in Scotland’s Highlands the terrain and weather can be deceptive as our tallest peak Ben Nevis is 1,345 metres. However, the tree line in Scotland begins around 6-800 metres. Higher winds and colder and changeable weather thus occur lower down in Scotland at the same severity. This means, effectively, the environment you get at 600 metres is the same at 3,000 metres in the Alps.

21989440014_00ab1cc4f0_o

Some Full moon Snow-hole Expedition gear: snow shovel, ice axe, trekking pole, rope, rucksack

Finding the right fit for hiking Scotland

To protect ourselves from Scotland weather we prepare with the proper gear. Cioch Outdoor Clothing is a Scottish based manufacturer on the Isle of Skye, and along with being comfortable and durable they also provide excellent customer service.

22625071021_58c2d63400_o

Wild Knoydart: walkers know the value of a good pack!

Nikwax Analogy material made to measure by Cioch and Páramo clothing, an ethical manufacturer, are favourites of Andy. He values these for their waterproof and windproof properties, essential to weathering Scotland’s worst. Many are surprised by the severity of “wind chill”.  (Wind chill is the effect of the wind in cold weather, which makes the actual temperature feel so much colder than the thermometer records.) Wind chill creates a high risk of hypothermia. Extra layers are a must.

26549761466_48af85e697_o

Andy in a Nikwax Analogy smock jacket by Páramo

Key features: never go without a map and compass, and pay special attention to foot care. Proper walking boots are essential. In general the heavier the boot, the more equipped you will be, and stiffer boots are best for dealing with snow.

Scotland - ATTA - Adventure Travel World Summit

Scotland – ATTA – Adventure Travel World Summit; Spirit of the Cairngorms. Compass for navigation.

Navigating the market

How does Gore-Tex compare to its competitors? Do you need to splurge on expensive gear for a single trip? Our resident guide Andy Bateman is an expert in questions like these.

Scotland - ATTA - Adventure Travel World Summit

Scotland – ATTA – Adventure Travel World Summit; Spirit of the Cairngorms. A bike you can depend on

We provide advice on the kit you will need, because the best gear makes you forget the job it is doing, and leaves you to soak in your adventures instead.

Imagine a place where you can trek through nature while indulging in fine whisky, handcrafted arts, local music and decadent home cooked meals. Autumn in the Cairngorms is a time to celebrate good food, colourful hiking and splendid photography opportunities as the sunrise and sunset become achievable times to be out and about.

autumn2

Rainbow over the Cairngorms

Welcome to the Cairngorms National Park

A place where you can experience travel in Scotland at its finest. This is a place to discover breathtaking landscape from bagging Munros to relaxing on the beaches of Lochs Morlich, Insh and Tolmount. You will never run out of places to explore. There are activities for everyone from visiting castles and distilleries to hiking up the mountains or round the lochs. Autumn is also a time for the best mountain biking too.

P1030081

River Spey, 5 minutes from our doorstep

But when is the best time of year to visit?

Falling under autumn’s spell

At Scot Mountain Holidays, nothing beats the vivid colours, crisp air, sunny days and cool evenings of autumn, a season of change.

Stags begin the rut, grouse take flight, and pheasant hunting season begins. Mountain ash, larch, silver birch, and sedges change colour and dazzle the landscape.

P1030075

Tulloch Ghru – part of our Outlander excursions

BMW11.1

The Cairngorms National Park in the fall – the best time to come for views of sunrise and sunset

It is a time of wild mushrooms in risotto, pâtés, polenta slices and ragu. And don’t forget to top it off with the spicy taste of Cairngorm Brewery’s raisin ruby ale, Autumn Nuts!

22408102939_f335ec9018_o

From Rebecca’s kitchen – Open mushroom and aubergine lasagne

A Fraoch fall

Come soak in Autumn days and nights with us your hosts at Fraoch Lodge, where we provide everything you need for self-guided tours and home style hospitality, and be enchanted by a Highland fall.

This year we’ve timed our Highland Extravaganza hiking tour to include the Abernethy Highland Games – after all what would a visit to the Highlands be, without a chance to get to a Games.

At Scot Mountain Holidays we always look forward to the Highland Games, and here are our main reasons why!

1. It’s family friendly

Stalls of Hook-a-duck, children’s races, Fair Ground rides, souvenirs, trampolines and more provide entertainment for the whole family. Arrive by Steam Train from Boat of Garten in the Cairngorms and really thrill the kids!

9 (2)

Hook-a-duck and win a prize

2. Highland Dancing

See local girls compete in Highland dancing in their full traditional garb.

3. Tug-O-War

These athletes tour around with the Highland Games, making the rivalry real. See the challenge live and cheer on your favourite side.

4. Caber Toss

One of the most exciting and famous parts of the Games, you won’t want to miss this main event.

10

The caber toss, parade

5. Food & drink

Venison vans, burger trucks, fish and chips, pulled pork, beer tents and coffee all to treat your tastebuds while taking in the Games.

6. Ceilidhs

Why not join a fun-loving ceilidh at the end of the night? Enjoy some drinks, have a dance, and chat with locals about the day’s events.

7. Chieftain’s Parade

Led by pipe bands, this is sure to thrill. See the men in their kilts and ladies in traditional dress, accompanied by bagpipes.

8 (2)

Chieftan’s Parade

And an honorary mention goes to…

8. The Abernethy RSPB 10-mile Road Race

Every second Saturday of August the Highland Games come to Abernethy, where you can see the Abernethy Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB10 mile road race. Ideally located if you are based at Fraoch Lodge in Boat of Garten. Come see runners in action for a good cause!

Exciting news for Outlander fans!

The Starz drama based on the historical fiction and time travel series by Diana Gabaldon has been renewed for 2 more seasons, which promises to return to the Highlands.

We can always count on Outlander for intrigue, drama, stunning Scottish landscape and, of course, men in kilts! Which is why we here at Scot Mountain Holidays have accumulated a list of events to compliment your Outlander and Jacobite fever.

This summer, 2016

1. Fort George

22818701921_86e94de2ac_o

Falcon demonstration

22781654946_91b3a74d7d_o

Highlanders at the ready

22794125622_88549e7ee5_o

Military re-enactment

Close to the Inverness airport, Fort George would not exist if not for the Jacobite rebellion, which is a major feature of Claire and Jamie’s story. Their re-enactments are unbeatable:

2. Highland Folk Museum

27284975191_aff04e7fd7_o

The Old Township

26748033954_c0eba3cf9b_o

Thatch roof cottage

27284911521_2470cfff9f_o

Make your own A-frame croft and grind flour

Just outside our doorstep is Britain’s first open air museum. Check out the old township to get a feel for the Highland way of life. Oh, and did we mention Outlander was filmed here?

3. Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre

P1020597

Stills of the Culloden battlefield panorama re-enactment

P1020598

A long night’s march

P1020596

For the Stuart cause

Walk through the fields of the historic battlefield and visit its interactive centre. Learn how 1,200 Jacobites were slaughtered in under an hour brinigng an end to a Scottish era:

4. Urquhart Castle

IMG_0674

Urquhart Castle

IMG_0673

Ghosts of Urquhart’s Past

P1010910

Historical dress-up at Urquhart

Experience Old Scotland and the lead up to the rebellion through the story of Urquhart Castle and its eventual demolition:

Don’t miss out…

All of these events are within easy reach of Fraoch Lodge. Contact us for more details and come immerse yourself in the Scottish Highland history which inspired Outlander!

Calvin College (Michigan) come to the Highlands – June 2015

We were contacted to organise a Scottish extension to a long study tour for 15 people from Calvin College in early 2015. The outline brief for the trip was that it was a first time visit to Scotland for the students who would be travelling up from Edinburgh after spending a few days in London and exploring Edinburgh. They wanted to experience the beautiful Scottish scenery and visit Loch Ness and they only had a couple of days free in their itinerary.

Their trip worked out as below:

Day 1; depart Edinburgh on the train for Aviemore. This is a beautiful train ride which passes through the Cairngorms National Park. The journey ended at Aviemore station where it was the plan to pick up all the baggage and walk the group through to the Old Bridge Inn. There was a slight hiccup to the original plan in that picking up the extra van to transport the whole group took a wee bit longer than planned so we picked up the baggage as the group were finishing their pub lunch.

IMG_0538.JPG

Photo caption: the Lairig Ghru seen from the Boat of Garten end of the Speyside Way

In exchange for the baggage, maps and route information was handed over so the group could follow a section of th eSpeyside Way to hike through to Boat of Garten across the heather moors. The girls then walked the 5 miles from Aviemore to Boat of Garten along the Speyside Way. The route is waymarked and relatively easy to follow without a professional guide. A couple of boards along the way with information about which hills you’re seeing at the relevant viewpoints would be very beneficial. You do get excellent views of the Lairig Ghru along the way as well as Cairngorm and Braeriach. Also if you’re lucky enough to be crossing the moor when the steam train is making one of it’s scheduled runs to or from Aviemore, it adds something special and atmospheric to the walk.

By 5pm, everyone had finished hiking and was settling in to their rooms at the lodge after devouring the tea and cake set out to welcome them.

Later in the evening we all ate a dinner of Harissa Chicken or butternut squash dumplings with rice and vegetables, followed by Self-saucing jaffa cake pudding (recipe to follow in our recipe requests section).

Day 2: Loch Ness

After a light breakfast, the girls made up sandwiches and a picnic lunch to take on the tour to Loch Ness. Today they were tourists personified planning to do the main tourist highlights around Loch Ness. First stop – Urquhart Castle. Lunch stop at Divach Falls. Nessie Exhibition, circuit of Loch Ness through Fort Augustus past some Heilan Coo (photo opportunity not to be missed) and back through Inverness to Boat of Garten.

Whos_the_scariest_of_them_all-.png

Photo caption: Dressing up at Urquhart Castle

 

Day 3: Guided hikes: Forest Loch and Abernethy Woods or Rothiemurchus and Loch an Eilean.

Trying_to_negotiate_a_stream_in_the_Cairngorms_without_getting_wet_feet.png

The group was a large one at 15 so we offered 2 levels of hike: one for the more energetic and one for those feeling the strain of being on the road for a while.

In Andy’s group, we took the girls to Forest Lodge, where Andy was able to explain how the partnership between Scot Mountain Holidays and the RSPB works to regenerate the tree level up to 600m in this area. The RSPB have established a sapling nursery at Forest Lodge to encourage the regeneration of seeds of local provenance which they can then reintroduce across their estate to try to take the natural tree line to the level it would be at were there not so many deer in the area.

Our_hiking_students_from_Michigan_enjoying_the_delights_of_the_Cairngorm_scenery.png

Photo caption: the active group enjoying the Pass of Ryvoan

 

American_students_hiking_in_the_Cairngorms_with_Scot_Mountain_Holidays.png

Photo caption: Forest Lodge to Ryvoan Bothy with Calvin College

Monday morning: after breakfast the group departs to go back to Edinburgh and their ownward flight to Dublin.

Without the help of Scot Mountain Holidays the girls may well have missed out on their hiking opportunity and hence may not have visited the Cairngorms National Park at all. We were able to provide the missing link so that they could hit eveything on their bucket list in the limited time they had available. We hope to see a group from the college again.

All transport provided by Scot Mountain Holidays.

Tour conceived and supplied by Scot Mountain Holidays

Tailor made to the requirements of Calvin College.

 

Vacations organised by Scot Mountain Holidays

Guided hiking vacations

Multi-activity adventures

Self-guided Mountain Biking breaks

 

Useful links for planning your trip to Scotland

Email us if you think we can help plan your vacation in Scotland – we can hit all the Highland hotspots and include some off the beaten track surprises you might not know about.

For inspiration check out our Pinterest board and our Flickr account.

All content © Copyright Scot Mountain Holidays 2024

Responsive web design by Summit Web Solutions

Want to hear more?

Join our newsletter for a lifetime of hiking adventures!

Subscribe now!

Thanks!

Follow us