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Events in the Cairngorms Family holidays Suggested things to do

10 Easter holiday ideas

Have you had any Easter holiday ideas yet? Thinking about the Easter holidays this year, it’s a wee bit of an awkward time – so early in the Spring season. It’s still an opportunity for some winter sports, but spring is on its way. If you’re travelling up to the Cairngorms National Park for this Easter holiday here are some ideas you might want to consider:

Adventures in the Cairngorms

1.Highland Wilderness Glamping Adventure – 

Embark on a journey like never before, where the breathtaking Highland landscape becomes your playground! Picture this: hiking alongside  Highland ponies during the day, and as the sun sets, indulge in the comfort of hot tent wild camping.

Experience our exclusive hot tent camping setup amidst the wilderness. Your little adventurers will be thrilled to walk alongside these magnificent ponies, creating memories that will last a lifetime. But the excitement doesn’t end there!

Prepare to be amazed as we venture off the grid, offering you and your family hot showers and sit-down toilets even amidst the remotest locations. Traverse through the spectacular Caledonian pine woods, pass by serene lochs, and be greeted by panoramic views of Cairngorm peaks.

Join us for a UK first – an adventure that combines the thrill of hiking, the magic of wild camping, and the joy of bonding with ponies. Pack Horse Supported Adventure is your ticket to an unforgettable family escapade in the heart of Scotland’s wilderness. Book now and let the adventure begin! 🏞🐴🌲


2. Snowhole Expedition –

Safely experience a night out in the winter hills. Construct your own snow shelter (not an igloo) with the Cairngorms most experienced snow hole builder. Andy has constructed 3 – 5 snow holes every year for over 20 years. He has refined his technique to such an extent that he has never had a single one collapse on him, and he’s never had to retreat due to lack of snow. He’s only once ever had to retreat, and that was due to the strength of the wind.

Contact Andy for a private quotation

Snow Hole Expedition

Digging in for a night out on the mountain.

3. Join Scot Mountain Holidays on a summit hike

We run fully inclusive guided walking holidays but we are also available for smaller personal hikes if you just want to explore briefly and safely in the countryside.

Enquire here.


walking in the Highlands

Posing amid the grandeur of the Cairngorms scenery

4. Meet the locals

a Highland Coo, a reindeer, a pine marten or a red deer. What a choice of wildlife experiences. If there are any Young Wildlife explorers in your family, then they’ll be spoilt for choice. Let us put together a full range of choices for you from sheep dog trials to the Wildlife Park or dusk wildlife watching opportunities. Feed the deer/the reindeer of the Coos. Spot the red squirrels in the forest. Get the binoculars out to see the Ospreys or the cute, wee crested tits with their tiny punk hairdos.

Contact us for an itinerary/best advice on where to go while you’re here.

self-guided walking in the Highlands

If you’re lucky you’ll pass the wee herd of Heelan Coo next to the road for a photo shoot.

Red Squirrel amongst branches

The Scottish red squirrel, photographed in the Boat of Garten woods.

5. Total whisky experience

visit Speyside Cooperage and a distillery of your choice. If you’re up a wee bit early you might catch the free distillery tour at Dalwhinnie Distillery. If you’d like a full-on whisky experience tour, including the intricacies of producing a malt whisky and where to go if you’re a whisky expert. Read our blogs

Scot Mountain Holidays can also offer a whisky day out or a tour based on Mountains and Malts if you want.

whisky tour

A cooper hard at work repairing casks at the Speyside Cooperage


6. Climb a Munro 

There are a huge number of Munros accessible from Fraoch Lodge. There are Munros to climb almost from the doorstep in the Cairngorms National Park. You can also use Fraoch Lodge as your base and venture further afield. However, with Ben Macdui (2nd highest in Scotland) and Braeriach (3rd highest in Scotland), you shouldn’t need to travel far for a good workout. Do make sure you put your safety first though. This year (2018) with Easter being so early and a good covering of snow remaining, it would be a good idea to either take a local guide or make sure you have refreshed your snow skills before you venture into the hills. Contact us for a private guiding or instruction booking.

walking in Scotland

The hikers in the sunshine deep in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park (more snow than most of January). Taken April/May 2017.

7. Take the kids on an outdoor treasure hunt (geocaching) – Easter holiday ideas for the kids

you could extend this by setting up your own cache or trail. The Easter egg hunt is always the favourite part of Easter for us in our household; far above the egg consumption. We have been known to hide the eggs more than once!

Rebecca is currently doing an online course in how to create gourmet chocolates so you could really elevate your Easter at Fraoch Lodge!


8. Check out the canoeing and kayaking or wild swimming

on Loch Morlich or Loch Insh, providing the ice has melted

Also – since we first published this list there’s been a massive growth in wild swimming. There’s no shortage of places to go around here from the Lochs mentioned above to the River Spey. There’s almost a dook around every corner! Check out or invest in the Wild Swimming guide book before you get here.

9. Go skiing

Bear in mind that snow sports could well be on offer at Easter on Cairngorm Mountain though we are still without the funicular for uplift. The team at Cairngorm Mountain are doing their best to offer

10. Enjoy an adrenaline rush

on the amazing Zip Line operated by G2 outside Aviemore (transfers available if required).

Contact us for any further details of things to do in the area or to plan your own trip, based from Fraoch Lodge, book your accommodation here.


13 things to do in Aviemore and the Cairngorms when you can’t ski (updated)

1. Mountain biking:

there are trails all round the area plus several centres with purpose-built tracks like Laggan Wolftrax and Glenlivet Bike Trails. Bikes can be hired from Mikes Bikes or Bothy Bikes in Aviemore.

mountain biking in Scotland

Enjoy the wild parts of the UK out on your bike

2. Enjoy the Zip Adventure Park 

with G2 on the Alvie Estate.

3. Go Ice Skating

Aviemore has a community ice skating rink again and you can also use the all weather rink at Loch Insh

4. Walk a section of the Speyside Way:

you could take the public bus to Boat of Garten (5 miles) or Nethybridge (8 miles) and walk back to Aviemore stopping in the Old Bridge Inn for a pint on your return.

5. Hire a Canadian canoe

and paddle the Spey;

canoe with the Moray Firth dolphins or kayak/canoe on Loch Ness.

what to do in Aviemore

Water based options might not be as appealing as you think, but water is surprisingly warm in the winter.

6. Take a tour to Loch Ness.

what to do from Aviemore

a tour to Loch Ness is a popular option for our guests at Fraoch Lodge

7. Head up to Findhorn

and check out the Findhorn Foundation or visit the Kimberley Inn for lunch and walk along the white sands of the beach.

8. Visit the ice rink in Inverness

and try out ice skating.

9. Take a swim at Inverness Aquadome.

unfortunately the Aviemore pool at the Macdonald’s resort is not currently available to the public for swimming.

10. Visit Speyside

and tour a distillery plus visit the Cooperage

what to do in Aviemore - whisky tasting

Always a wet or cold day option – a distillery visit or whisky tasting.


11. Take a detour to Knockando Wool Mill

or Johnston’s wool mill in Elgin if Knockando is closed. Tours are every hour until 3 or 4pm and are free of charge.

where you can experience the whole wool story from shorn fleece to completed material.

what to do in Aviemore

Get crafty if you’d like some time and space to knit, ask Rebecca for recommendations

12. Visit the reindeer centre at Glenmore.

reindeer in the Cairngorms

If you like to see reindeer, you should come to Aviemore, particularly in the winter which is their natural habitat.


13. Visit the Highland Wildlife Park

and/or the Highland Folk Museum

what to do in Aviemore

Traditional village which is part of the Newtonmore Highland Folk Museum


Useful links:

New website for the Cairngorms National park highlighting selected experiences within the park – cairngormsnationalpark.co.uk

Everything you need to know about the humble Highland coo!

A visit to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without catching a glimpse of the ginger-fringed and friendly Highland coo! These lovable and docile creatures are a famous picture-postcard icon of our country, but they’re more than just a pretty face. Being the nature enthusiasts that we are and regularly having the chance to see these beauties roaming freely, we thought we’d answer some regular coo FAQs!

Why do Highland cows look so different to regular cows? 

They’re a far cry from the short-haired black and white dairy cow, and that’s because these hardy souls evolved to put up with the wind, rain, snow and sub-zero temperatures that come with living outdoors through a Scottish winter. Though the classic ginger fringed cow is the star of many selfies, they actually come in a variety of colours – blonde, black, brown and a mixture! They have two coats, one longer outer coat to protect them from the elements, and a downy undercoat to keep them cosy. While most cattle would take warm shelter in harsh weather conditions, our highland coos are comfortable setting up for a night in an open shelter (called a fold). Their famous fringe (called a dossan) and long eyelashes protect their eyes from the weather and pesky midges. 

Check out VisitScotland’s Coo Cam and say hello to Thelma, Louise, Cairistiona, Breagh and Janima from Kitchen Coos and Ewes in Dumfries and Galloway and Swanston Farm in Edinburgh.

Why do they have horns?

Both male and female highland cows have horns. Although they look intimidating, they’re used to forage for food or to dig through the snow in winter – so a very tough look for a far more innocent use! You can tell a male and female coo apart by their horns. Male horns will generally come out parallel to the ground and turn up or forward slightly at the ends. Females have longer, thinner horns which have much more of an obvious curve. 

Where can I meet a Highland Cow?

First recorded in the Scottish Highlands (as early at the sixth century!) – they were named after their origins. Nowadays you can find the Highland Coo dotted all over Scotland, including the islands! VisitScotland have created a handy guide of all the places you might spot a Highland coo as and when COVID restrictions allow, from the northern tip to the borders of the country. Your safest bet would be the Highlands, and for the true rural Scottish wildlife experience we highly recommend setting up base in the Cairngorms and taking a few days to explore. Our Highland Wilderness Trips are famous for sights of deer, rare birds, badgers and of course the gorgeous Highland coo too!

If you’re keen to see a coo our recommendations would be to join us on a visit to Lynbreck Croft (to be included on the Highland Family Adventure and Cairngorm Discovery tours) or check in with Rothiemurchus estate on their coo tours for your rest day activity. There are also coo viewing opportunities when we do to Harris (Western Isles Wilderness), Skye (Superlative Skye), Knoydart (Wild Knoydart) and Torridon (Classic Torridon) – so  almost everywhere we go!

highland coo

One of the local residents observes the tourists disdainfully from his/her comfy abode.


If you love the Highland Coo/Cow we highly recommend following Lynbreck Croft on Facebook.


Family Advenutre Holidays Scotland

Family Adventure Holidays in the Cairngorms

Why come to the Cairngorms with your family?

A family adventure holiday in Scotland

It’s very easy to be complacent about your surroundings when you live permanently in a beautiful place. The scenery becomes mundane and the choice of things to do “boring” because they are options open to you every day. When visitors arrive, it’s different. They don’t have the option of postponing their activities to next week; next month or next year. They want to enjoy themselves now and see and do as much as they possibly can. Here in the Cairngorms you’re almost spoilt for choice no matter what age you/your kids are. The beauty of our natural environment here in the Cairngorms is perfect for a family adventure holiday.

The myths

“It’s always wet.”

“It’s so cold.”

pre-school_families_blog.jpgIt is a wee bit cooler here than in the balmy climate of London and the South Coast. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have the snow in winter, the reindeer living here year round; nor the polar bears in the Highland Wildlife Park as well as the Amur Tigers. (Both the polar bears and the Amur Tigers are cold climate dwellers.) However, we also have a drier climate than the west coast of Scotland and Glasgow and also can be a lot drier than in the Midlands.

If Wimbledon had been played in our local tennis club this year, we wouldn’t have had the same rain delays as at the All England Club. In fact this year, despite the moans of gardeners in England, it looks as if our own garden is going to be the most productive it has been for a long time. Plums, apples, strawberries, red currants and raspberries are all coming along nicely ready for the prime summer holiday season. (Rhubarb has been a bumper crop and is already transformed into Rhubarb Crumble ice cream and Rhubarb and Vanilla jam.)

Part one: A Pre-School Family

There’s many a parent gets stuck after the birth of their child. The challenge of just surviving the day is too much to allow for anything else in their lives. The baby is the central focus of their lives and all previously enjoyed pass-times take a back seat. Unfortunately this can then give rise to a lot of resentment as time passes on and the new mother takes on the identity of “Mum” but feels that she is losing her own identity.

Everyone needs something to look forward to and as the old saying goes “a change is as good as a rest”. Perhaps a wee break from routine would re-energise the whole family.

family adventure holiday in Scotland

Enjoy the Strathspey steam railway during your visit.

Fortunately young children (pre-school and early primary school age) are for the most part a lot more adaptable than their parents give them credit for. The majority of them will still sleep when they are tired (even in the most unlikely of places). They’ll still eat when hungry and a new environment will be stimulating enough to entertain them. That’s them sorted. The trick then is to pick somewhere to take them which appeals to you as a parent but will not introduce more hassle to your life. So somewhere which is family friendly but not just in name.

Child friendly facilities at Fraoch Lodge

There are self-catering cottages which pride themselves on being family friendly because they offer the use of cots, high chairs etc. To my mind this is not enough to be a family friendly facility. At Fraoch Lodge we have a variety of books and toys for wee ones along with a large garden for them to explore complete with a sandpit, garden tools, a digging area, a toddler trampoline and a slide; complete with personal guide (if desired) in the shape of the resident child, Gregor.

We can also offer the whole family or just the parents a chance to eat “out” while in. In other words, we can cater for you while the kids sleep upstairs, so you won’t need a babysitter, but equally can relax with a glass of wine and not have to cook yourselves. Or alternatively we can cook for the kids first and yourselves later or cook for the whole family together.

Things to do with the wee ones in Boat of Garten

When you come to Boat of Garten you don’t even need to go far to entertain the kids:

Options in the area for a family adventure holiday

There are in fact almost more choices than you’ll have time to explore. We’re happy to help you plan your stay so you get the most out of your time here and don’t forget if you’d like to book a guide, we can help. Sometimes the way to get the most our of your trip is to book a day with a guide and then explore the rest of your visit on your own. That way you’ll be able to take advantage of the guide’s local knowledge to open your eyes about what you’re seeing – it’s not just a flower, but a particular kind of flower which may be unique to the area; it’s not just a rock, but a certain kind of rock transported by a glacier perhaps ….

A family adventure holiday or 2 to consider with a younger family:

Under Your Own Steam
Cairngorms Discovery
 Get off the Beaten Track
Private Guiding

Look out for Part 2 – a family adventure holiday with kids in primary school

Guided winter walking in Scotland

What a week of Guided winter walking in Scotland – almost 4 seasons in one week! From full whiteout blizzard to stunning views for miles from the summit of Braeriach, enhanced by a broken spectre with 2 silhouettes in the middle.

From conditions like this:

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Wintry conditions on the summit of Cairngorm at the beginning of the week

To glorious views like this:

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Stunning views to compensate for the lack of snow cover in the Cairngorms (courtesy of Claire Grogan)


The weekend at the beginning of the trip offered the worst of the weather, but unfortunately if you have to get back to work … maybe next time those who couldn’t stay on will be treated to views similar to those from Braeriach at the end of the week.

Quotes and reviews:

“Thank you again for a very enjoyable week. Andy’s knowledge of the mountains and of the geology, flora and fauna, together with the welcoming and homely atmosphere and Rebecca’s cooking makes for a great combination”

Guided winter walking in Scotland – the highlights from Gentle Giants/Classic Winter Cairngorms – January 2017

These are just a selection of some of the points which have made the week so memorable and will hopefully serve as talking points when everyone gets home.



– a diverse group of individuals (including one couple) united by a common interest.

Guided winter hiking in Scotland: Wildlife highlights:

We saw a vole and it didn’t just pop out and disappear; it stayed and snuffled around searching for food. We have a really good view of it.

Sightings of ptarmigan became quite common place as the week went on. The first was exciting but by the end of the week, we’d had at least 5 sightings. Ptarmigan sightings were exciting for one of our guests whose young grandson (under 10 years old) is a keen birdwatcher, so it was something he could share with him.

We spotted golden eagle and mountain hare in the white winter plumage.

winter wildlife Cairngorms

A ptarmigan makes walking across the snow look easy

Guided winter walking in Scotland: weather highlights

Many a hiker would love to be treated to a broken spectre. It adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the day and provides a talking point. Everyone wanted to see the pics (and it certainly proved popular on our social media.


Guided winter walking in Scotland: Scenic highlights

Panoramic photos courtesy of Claire Grogan

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Stunning winter views in the Cairngorms highlighted by a slight wisp of cloud to add character to the picture

Guided winter walking in the Cairngorms

Loch A’an sparkling in the sunlight peeping through the drifting cloud

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Clear dry air in winter makes for views which stretch for miles across the Cairngorms and beyond

Guided winter walking in Scotland

Not so wintry in the Cairngorms but still enjoying the company and repartee as the group ascends the ridges in the Cairngorms


Check out our Facebook album for a fuller collection of the photos taken during our trip.

Guided winter walking in Scotland: Recipe requests

Lentil loaf – a great vegetarian recipe to have up your sleeve for parties/dinners with friends.

Other food: Recipes going live shortly:

Beetroot brownies

Banana and fruit loaf pudding

Grasmere gingerbread

Raspberry and pine nut bars

Tear and share tomato and cheese bread


A great group who enjoyed the variety of walking options during the week and did perhaps feel that they accomplished more in the week than they would have done without Andy’s guidance.

The Cairngorms with kids – on foot

The advantage of the Cairngorms with kids in tow is that the walking opportunities are almost endless at all levels depending on your child’s level of interest and energy. Almost every village in the Park has had a network of paths put in with the support of the National Park to give both locals and vistors extensive opportunties to explore through the woods, across the moorland, around the lochs etc. And if you want to do a wee bit more of an adventure you could try one of the Treasure Trails or try the permanent orienteering course at Glenmore.


There’s as wide a range of walks to do with the kids as you have time for here in the Cairngorms and the majority of the walks are circular so you don’t have to retrace your footprints. Walks vary in length but the majority are aimed at being no more than a half day’s activity so you could also do something else with the rest of the day – visit a castle, see Dolphins, go to Landmark Forest Adventure Park, go for a wild swim or a swim/slide in the swimming pool, try another activity, visit the polar bears and tigers at the Wildlife Park ….. The plethora of opportunities mean that we have trouble understanding why anyone would only want to spend one night with us; but perhaps not everyone is into the scenery and the outdoors.

Turn walking into an adventure

Treasure Trails have produced a series of mystery/adventure stories where you solve the clues/puzzles along your walking route. The trails are available all over the UK, even in the Cairngorms National Park. We have a stock of the local trails here at Fraoch Lodge so if you want to spice up a local walk instead of just admiring the scenery and seeing what nature you can spot (giant anthills, ripe bilberries, raspberries, mushrooms, red squirrels etc) you can try one of these trails or purchase your own from http://www.treasuretrails.co.uk/scotland-northeast/things-to-do.html There are trails available in Aviemore, Kingussie, Newtonmore, Forres & Grantown on Spey among others – all of which are easily accessible from our base in Boat of Garten.

The best nature trails and scenic walks for kids



Loch an Eilean – voted Britain’s most popular picnic spot. The Loch is a very attractive spot with a ruined castle on it. The path around the loch is a forest path. There are rocks and tree roots along the way but then that’s nature. The root is not really suitable for push chairs but can be managed by relatively young children. Full details are available on the link provided.

Craigellachie Nature Reserve – a lovely wee walk for all the family which passes a wee lochan and can be extended up the hill if the enthusiasm is there.

Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie – Just a wee stretch of the legs, but in season the break can be extended to include either a loop through the forest or visit to the RSPB visitor centre (open Apr – Aug) to see the Ospreys.

The Green Lochan

Farleitter Crag and Uath Lochans – This route must be access by car as there is no public transport down Glen Feshie.

Pattack Falls

The best waymarked routes near or in Boat of Garten


There are several way marked routes in the woods behind Fraoch Lodge and they are all marked out. You can even see the Capercaillie statue made from wood with the help of the pupils at the school. We also have a woodland ranger who leads walks and produces a blog for the village (on the website). The walks have a minimal charge associated with them but are extremely informative. Examples of the routes are: The Salmon trail – or the Red Squirrel trail.

Further details:

Walks around Boat of Garten woods – no transport required as these can all be accessed from our front door

Information about the Boat of Garten area

The Speyside Way (sections)

1. Boat of Garten to Aviemore – This is a lovely section of the Speyside Way which if done from Boat to Aviemore means you’re facing the Cairngorm Mountains the whole way and if you’re lucky the steam train will puff past you as you walk. The route comes into Aviemore past the Spey Valley Golf Course and Cairngorm Brewery before getting close to the centre of Aviemore.

2. Boat of Garten to Nethybridge (or extend to Grantown on Spey) – the main problem with extending the walk through to Grantown on Spey is the number of gates you have to go through along the way – but you never know that could turn it into more of an adventure for the kids. There are also several fixed information points through Balliefurth Farm explaining a little more about the countryside and the bonus is that you’ll come down to Grantown past Spey Valley Smokehouse where you can view the workers producing packs of smoked salmon to be distributed across the country.

Anagach Woods in Grantown on Spey – http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/cairngorms/anagach-woods.shtml

Glenmore to Aviemore – can be accessed by bus. Ask for details while staying at Fraoch Lodge.

For confident navigators to get off the beaten track

Ord Ban – http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/sub2000/ord-ban

Carn Eilrig – see Andy for route description and full details. May be for older kids or for a bike/hike combination.

High Mountain routes the kids can do

Meall a’Bhucaille – http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/cairngorms/meallabhuachaille.shtml

Cairngorm – from the ski car park to the summit. Children from age 5 or 6 can probably manage this walk on a fine day. The bonus is that they or all of you can summit your/their first munro without actually climbing up 3000ft.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. A great many other options are available. Andy will be very happy to discuss with you as many options as  you wish when you come to stay. He’ll then be able to tailor all his suggestions to your experience, ambitions and weather.

For some other options which you may like to read about before you visit, you could always try the Walk Highlands website. We have worked closely with Helen and Paul Webster who run the site. They too are experts on the walking opportunties in this area as they live in Grantown on Spey.



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