Deciding on a destination for a family holiday can seem like an impossible task. Finding somewhere to satisfy the range of ages and tastes in your group seems to rule out almost every destination – until, that is, you consider the Cairngorms National Park. This huge part of Scotland – twice the size of the Lake District – contains so many treasures and activities that it’s one of the few places that can really be said to have it all. In fact, last year, an incredible 98% of visitors said they would recommend a visit – with 96% saying they loved it, and over half saying that there wasn’t anything at all that could be improved (http://cairngorms.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/150831CairngormsVisitorSurveySummary1.0.pdf)!
In the Cairngorms, there’s something for everyone, regardless of who you are – and if you don’t believe us, here’s a list of just a handful of the things you can do.
The Cairngorms National Park is the UK’s most popular ski resort, and it’s not hard to see why. The snowy plateaus around the park contain three ski centres. Cairngorm Mountain boasts an extensive winter sports school, The Lecht is designed to be family-friendly with a range of activities, and the sheer variety at Glenshee will keep even the most determined skiers occupied with new routes.
Two major rivers, the Spey and Dee, run through the Cairngorms, and both boast some of the finest salmon and trout fishing in the world – it’s no surprise that the area is internationally renowned with fishers the world over.
There are plenty of opportunities for more tasking outdoor activities, too. Loch Insh, for example, boasts a huge variety of outdoor sports, including kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, mountain biking and abseiling. The whole of the area contains many of the most breathtaking bicycle routes in the UK, some of which have to be seen to be believed. For those who prefer a more relaxing game, the area contains the famous Boat of Garten golf course.
Hiking and mountain climbing
Four of the UK’s five highest mountains are all within the Cairngorms National Park, and there are few better places in the world to go for a hike. There are 43 ‘munros’ – mountains over 3,000 ft – in the park, so you’ll never be lost for exploring. The routes range from the difficult and challenging to those suitable for all ages, and you won’t need to be a professional climber to take in the breathtaking scenery. The landscapes here have been inspiring people for generations: for example, did you know that the famous ‘Higgs Boson’ particle was first imagined by the scientist Peter Higgs while he was walking through the Cairngorms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairngorms#Leisure)?
Food and drink
No trip anywhere in Scotland would be complete without sampling the local produce, and the Cairngorms doesn’t disappoint. The famous Glenlivet distillery is just one of many in the area with extensive tours available, and the area boasts some of Scotland’s finest produce, as well as top-end fine dining in the hotels and restaurants dotted around.
The Cairngorms National Park is one of the best places in Scotland to come for natural beauty, and the Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve is perhaps the best site. Boasting a huge variety of rare plants and animals, it’s a must-see for nature lovers.
The famous Strathspey Steam Railway allows you to take in some of the finest scenery in the world in old-fashioned style and comfort – the 20-mile trip takes in rivers, woodland, moorland and mountains, and can be enjoyed by young and old alike.
The Cairngorms also boast Balmoral Castle, the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family for centuries. Extensive tours are available of the grounds while exhibitions are regularly held for visitors. For those looking to go a bit further from the beaten track, there are some incredible older castles dotted around the landscape, too – Loch an Eilein, near Aviemore, contains a breathtakingly atmospheric ruined castle over 500 years old.
Whatever you’re looking for on your holiday, it’s impossible not to find something perfect for you in the Cairngorms. With outdoor activities, sport, nature, and plenty of great food, drink and a warm welcome, it’s the perfect destination for almost any group of people. Basing yourself in Aviemore and letting your wanderlust take you to wherever you want to go really can be a dream getaway: we have several self-catering properties in the area which are perfect for groups, so check our availability and see how you can have the holiday of a lifetime.