Aviemore: Spirit of adventure

Aviemore is the perfect short break destination for anyone with a sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. There’s so much to do, superb scenery and it’s great for families, couples or groups of friends. 

Aviemore can be reached in a couple of hours drive via the A96, perhaps with a diversion to a Speyside distillery or two. Alternatively, you can give your gearbox a workout on the Braemar route, which includes the challenging Cockbridge to Tomintoul road, so familiar from winter traffic reports. Public transport options include the train or bus via Inverness.

The best choice of accommodation comes from Macdonald Hotels (macdonaldhotels.co.uk/aviemore) who have three four star hotels, well-priced restaurants, a championship golf course and some cosy woodland lodges that are perfect for a getaway if you’d rather self-cater or want to bring your dog along. Somehow, Macdonald’s extensive grounds manage to be both in the centre of the village and – simultaneously – right next door to the Craigallachie National Nature Reserve, a birch forest where you can spot buzzards and falcons as well as get a great view of the Cairngorms. 

With Cairngorm and the Lecht close by, naturally Aviemore is popular with skiers and snowboarders. Torville and Dean types can take to the ice at Macdonald’s. Kids will adore Macdonald’s giant pool complete with flumes or a trip to Landmark’s Forest Adventure Park at Carrbridge. 

Aviemore is not just a great destination in winter, there’s so much to do in every season. Try quad biking on the Rothiemurchus estate with quadtreksaviemore.com. They’ll even introduce you to some Highland cattle and ride in the river on the way back from your trek. You can also try clay shooting, fishing, pony trekking, archery and even falconry in and around the estate. If you prefer two wheels to four, try In Your Element mountain bike hire (iye.scot) who also run Tree Zone aerial adventures.

If you’d like to try paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing or windsurfing, head to Loch Morlich Watersports The less adventurous will find solace in the café, strolling along the loch’s award-winning sandy beach, or taking a trip back in time with afternoon tea on the Strathspey Railway. 

If you’d prefer to get close to nature, then book a hill trek with Cairngorm Reindeer, who have Britain’s only free-roaming herd. At just £22 for a 40 minute walk then the chance to hand feed these beautiful creatures, it’s a bit of a bargain. They also do paddock visits, including the education centre, for £4. You’ll also find the Highland Wildlife Park, home to lynx, tigers, and polar bears just a short drive away at Kincraig. 

If the area abounds in activities, then the shopping opportunities are not quite so abundant. The main street contains an alternating array of gift shops and outdoor clothing and footwear specialists. If you’re not in the market for fleece or fudge, pop into Walker’s Shortbread for crumbly local deliciousness. The farm shop at Rothiemurchus is worth a visit, as is Macdonald’s own shopping centre, where you’ll find everything from a deli and homewares to fashion and toys. There’s a Waterstones and a good old-fashioned sweetie shop in the village and it can be worth popping up to the Cairngorm Brewery for a liquid souvenir or two, or you can round off your day with a dram in Macdonald’s Laggan bar or a trip to the on-site cinema. 

In short, whether you’re looking for a cosy woodland retreat, the chance to exhaust your kids, or an action-packed adventure, Aviemore ticks all the boxes. 

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