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Hiking with kids is not always a fun experience but our top tips could change that around for you. Boat of Garten, Scotland is rich in natural beauty. Its rural setting lends itself to plenty of hiking opportunities for not only individuals, but also families. 

So, if you’re looking to go hiking with your kids around Boat of Garten, here are 8 great tips on how to make the best of your trip:

  1. Prep And Plan

“Every hiking trip has to be planned and prepped for,” says Madeleine Walder, a travel blogger at State of writing and Essay Roo. “This is especially important when you bring your kids along for the trip. You’ll need to plan your day with the kids in mind – when they’ll be energetic, when they’ll get tired, and so on.”

Here are things you’ll need to pack for everyone in the family:

mountain navigation course, Highlands of Scotland

A female walker seen sitting down resting and studying her map, wearing her boots and waterproof clothing, with her rucksack and walking poles, Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland.
Model Release
Photograph by David Mansell 07831 559901 mobile

2. Dress Accordingly

Next, it’s important to dress for the trip. Consider the following scenarios:

However, no matter the hiking weather, be sure to have the right clothing, including:

spring in the Cairngorms

Spring is a great time to get the kids out hiking. There’s still snow to play in but it’s not as bitterly cold as winter.

 

3. Choose Varying Trails And Terrains

Children love to explore. So, when choosing a trail, look for the following features:

For example, Frank Bruce’s Sculpture trail at Insh; Gruffalo walk in Culloden Woods; Boat of Garten to Loch Garten – plenty of fallen trees to explore as it is the RSPB policy to leave fallen wood where it lies for the other forest beasties to benefit from.

Who knows? Your kids will come up with great adventure ideas when they’re on the hike. With wild imaginations, anything is possible for kids. 

hiking with kids

What fun teetering along the trunk of a fallen tree.

4. Invite Friends

Why hike by yourselves, when you can take friends along for the trip? 

Kids might have friends that they want to invite to the trip. So, feel free to let them invite friends over for the trip. Just make sure that your child’s friend(s) are well-prepared for the trip. 

If you have a dog, then you can let them join your trip as well! But again, everyone (including Fido) will need to be prepped for the trip.

5. Take Breaks

It’s natural for people to take breaks. Now, with kids, they’ll need to take plenty of breaks, especially when they’re hiking. Even if they start complaining that they’re not tired just yet, you’ll still need to have them break. 

On the other hand, kids will complain about being tired. Again, that’s why it’s important to plan for frequent stops.

Now, when you and the family stop for a break, don’t just sit down somewhere. Also, make sure that everyone “refuels,” meaning that you all take in some food and drink before continuing the hike. A snack favorite for kids is a medley of snacks, including trail mix. Wild food/foraging could become a new favourite if you’re out at the right time in the right place.

6. Be Positive

Hiking is about enjoying yourself. Although your kids might whine about something along the way, why not spin it around with fun questions like:

The idea of asking questions is to keep your child engaged, and to prevent them from feeling bored or sad.

Also, treat your child with respect. If your child is visibly tired after a while, then it’s time to go home. 

7. Take It Easy

“When hiking with your kids, it’s okay to relax,” says Cameron O’Neill, a lifestyle writer at Lia Help and Boomessays. “Try not to think about the time passing by, when you don’t have anything else planned for the day. Focus on hiking with the family. Focus on taking in nature, and enjoying it with your kids. Remember: There’s no hurry. Take your time. Take it easy.”

8. Make Hiking A Family Tradition

Family traditions create memories that last a lifetime. So, why not make hiking a family tradition?

Whether you and the family take hiking trips monthly or yearly, this family tradition is for you to create. This family tradition also allows children to embrace nature as much as possible. 

Conclusion

As you can see, hiking in Boat of Garten, Scotland can be a fun experience for you and your child. Therefore, take these 8 tips, and have fun (and be safe) hiking with the family!

If you’re looking for more help and advice planning your walks in the Cairngorms, or if you’d like to try one of our ready-made itineraries please get in touch.

Top tip from Scot Mountain Holidays: Experience has also taught us that having animals along on the walk helps to motivate the kids to keep going. This was particularly the case when we were persuaded to try Trekking with a Donkey in France. We then took that experience to develop our own version into the Highland Wilderness Glamping Adventure – to create memories which will last a lifetime.

Elizabeth Hines is a writer and editor at UK Writings and Academized. She is also a contributing writer for Write my paper. As a content marketer, she writes articles about latest tech and marketing trends, innovations, and strategies.

Family walks in the Cairngorms

In no particular order we’ve listed 10 of our favourite family walks in the Cairngorms. We’ve concentrated on the area we know best around the northern side of the park, but we do also know of some excellent walks on the south side of the park which we’ll mention in passing with reference to more detailed information at the end of the blog.

We’ve concentrated on walks which you can do with younger children as once your kids reach a certain age, they’re capable of achieving just as much on a day hike as any other adult.

Hiking in the Cairngorms with a family

Ascending Meall a’Bhucaille with 2 x 7 year olds and 1 x 4 year old.

The walks

1. Loch an Eilean

Of the family walks available in the Cairngorms, this is one of the most popular, also frequented by some of the minibus tour companies like Rabbies.

The walk takes about 2 hours or 4.5 miles

It is a lovely walk to do. You don’t have to do the whole walk but the path is suitable for push chairs, particularly those with 3 wheels or larger wheel sizes.

The ruined castle on the island in the loch lends the situation a romantic aura. The area has featured in Outlander and the new Netflix extravaganza about King Arthur.

The optional extension around the neighbouring loch, is almost deserted. The path is wide and mostly through lovely open Caledonian pines. Even on a wet day, it is picturesque.

In summer, you can snack your way round on the wild bilberries which line the path in places.

Map of the route, courtesy of Walk Highlands.

family walks in the Highlands

One of the most popular short walks in the northern Cairngorms. (Bilberries are the summer highlight.)

2. Green Lochan (or on to Ryvoan Bothy)

An easy walk to fit into a bigger day of activities. Going up to the Green Lochan and back to your car will only take about 1 hour.

1.2 miles: 26 mins (one way)

Start at Glenmore Lodge or the Forestry Commission Visitor Information Centre in Glenmore. Parking at the end of the road by Glenmore Lodge is limited and on a fine day you may find that there is no space there. If you are parked at the end of the road, near the visitor information centre, you will end the walk at the Cobbs cafe. A cake break here makes a fine reward at the end of the day.

The path is wide and easy to find up to the Green Lochan. It starts from the road end and continues straight up to the Green Lochan. Allow time to stop at the lochan take in the views and maybe even dabble your toes in the water. There’s a great spot for photos too.

If you want a longer route

If this is not enough of a walk for you and your family the route continues on to Ryvoan Bothy. The Bothy is a basic shelter, like a refuge. It is free to use and does not have a warden. The main thing to remember is that you should not leave anything at the bothy which wasn’t there when you arrived. You can spend the night at Ryvoan Bothy, but be prepared for some competition for the “bed” space. There is a small stove in the bothy, so providing you have fuel, you should be warm enough.

Here’s a link to the map of Walk Highland’s version of this walk which can also be done as a there and back route from your car parked outside Glenmore Lodge for a shorter route.

family walks for all ages.

Perfect spot to rest up after a wee walk. Popular in the middle of the day.

3. Loch Mallachie & RSPB Loch Garten

This is a lovely walk at any time of year in almost any weather conditions. The majority of the walk is through mature Caledonian pine forest which bears no resemblance whatsoever to commercial forestry. The trees are not all straight nor are they planted in rows. The undergrowth is lush and often filled with treasures like wild blueberries, cowberries or mushrooms. You could see a red squirrel, roe deer, crested tits, ospreys etc

At Loch Garten you have the option of visiting the Osprey Hide and hearing the ongoing saga of the Osprey centre (April to August only).

Including Loch Mallachie on your circuit is a must. It is a beautiful spot and really quite peaceful. Sunrise is glorious here if you’re an early riser.

2 – 3 hours: 9km, plus walk through Boat of Garten to the car park if you are starting from Fraoch Lodge

Map courtesy of Walk Highlands

family walks in the Cairngorms

The peaceful scenery of Loch Mallachie, near Boat of Garten

4. Viewpoint walk, Grantown on Spey

This is a short way-marked circular route of 5km.

You’ll start either from the centre of Grantown, or from the caravan park (though parking is limited here). The route starts on a tarmaced track leading off left past the caravan park. You’ll then pick up signs for the Dava Way and the viewpoint walk to the right. Follow the track up the hill along the side of the stream. You’ll pass a couple of points where you can admire the view over Grantown to the Cromdale hills before reaching the ultimate viewpoint marker, atop a small rocky outcrop. Here you’ll find a viewpoint marker indicating all the mountains etc you can see.

Continue on from the viewpoint to make the walk a circular route, finishing up along the old railway track which is now part of the Dava Way.

There are opportunities to Geocache along the way if you feel the need to add a bit of interest to the walk.

For a full route description try Walk Highlands

5. River Walk, Nethy Bridge

This is a really short walk suitable for even the youngest members of the family. It follows the river Nethy from the bridge in the centre of Nethybridge up towards the Dell of Abernethy. There are also plenty of opportunities to extend the walk along the local network of paths, the majority of which are waymarked.

You can also pick up a map at the information centre in the village hall right at the start of your walk.

There are alternative routes out to Broomhill station and Castle Roy on the other side of Nethybridge.

Make more of a day out of it

Take the steam train from Boat of Garten to Broomhill. Follow the walking route into Nethybridge and either pick you way to the river where there is a wee beach where you can relax. You can paddle in the shallows too. But watch out, because there are deeper patches in the middle of the river. Don’t try to wade out to the other side.

From here you could also pick up the Speyside way and walk all the way back to Boat of Garten which is no more than 5 miles and probably less. It’s a great walk with plenty of opportunities in the summer to stop and snack on bilberries (wild blueberries).

There are plenty of Geocache possibilities in Nethybridge too to keep the kids focused.

6. Ellan Woods, Carrbridge

Ellan Woods are again filled with Geocache boxes. Even if you don’t travel that far, the kids will have a great time trying to retrieve as many prizes as they can.

Parts of the off-road route 7 cycle path also pass through Carrbridge.

If you’re looking for a longer alternative, we do include a Carrbridge circuit in our self-guided Cairngorm itinerary. You could also take a look at the week long itinerary of self-guided walks: we could adapt this trip for your group.

Another alternative: Sluggan Bridge

Sluggan bridge as a walk on it’s own is suitable for almost anyone to do. It is just a quick stretch of the legs, but can easily be extended and is such as lovely spot that you can easily spend an afternoon there with the kids. Dabble in the water and have a picnic.

7 Craigellachie Nature Reserve

This is a wee favourite of ours. A little jaunt up to a viewpoint above Aviemore, or if you have really wee ones just go to the wee lochans. You’d hardly know you’re right next to the A9.

The walk is about 5km so probably not one for really young ones. Parts of it were a wee bit icy when we did it (admittedly that was March and really only to be expected). Lovely walk which breaks out of the birch forest to provide spectacular views as below. Some steep sections but easily managed by anyone of moderate fitness. Walking poles advised if you are not used to hill walking.

Map from Walk Highlands

family walks (uphill)

Spectacular and unusual views from the viewpoint above Craigellachie Nature Reserve

8. Boat of Garten to Aviemore

Well worth a wee gander across the moor to Aviemore. You follow the route of the Strathspey Railway most of the way to Aviemore as well as the course of the river Spey. This is part of the Speyside Way. It is a well maintained wide path. You’ll be heading towards the Cairngorms so spectacular views of the mountains. The only downside is that there is very little shelter for the majority of the route though the beginning and the end are protected by trees.

Points of interest:

You can come out into Aviemore on the Dalfaber estate, right next to Cairngorm Brewery. Worth a stop? They do brewery tours! Also near here: Kilted Fudge (for the kids to pick up a treat) and Route 7 Cafe.

You can return by steam train to Boat of Garten if you time it right, or alternatively take the public bus service (no. 34) back to the village.

5 to 6 miles, depending on how far into Aviemore you go.

9. Meall a Bhuacaille

We’ve already covered this option in some detail in a previous blog. Do click on the link for full details. This is a very popular family walk. Plenty of treats for the younger kids to encourage them to the top.

10. Ascent of Cairngorm

This is quite a walk for wee kids, but don’t forget if it’s your first attempt and the kids get tired, you usually have the option of taking the funicular train back down (providing you remember your wallet).

Again it is easy to extend this walk if you want or keep it short and just pop in at the Ptarmigan restaurant at the top for snacks and refreshments.

Do not attempt this walk with young kids in the winter months.

From the ski car park to the summit is: just over 4km, 2 – 2.5 hr walking

Route map and description

Remember: there is no shelter or shade on this walk. Cairngorm is sub-arctic tundra. Most of the vegetation is less than knee high. There are trees but they are of the dwarf variety and don’t even reach you knees. You’d have to know what you’re looking at to identify them as trees!

family walks in the Cairngorms

A family day out on the summit of Cairngorm (with diversions to hunt for snow)

For maps and full route descriptions try WalkHighlands

Further reading and suggestions for family walks

For leaflets on the community trails around many of the villages in the Cairngorms click here

Visit Scotland’s suggestions for scenic family walks

Suggestions from the Hilton

Best hikes in the Cairngorms from the Guardian.

https://blog.visitcairngorms.com/six-great-walks-beginners-families/

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.

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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

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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

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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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