One of the most beautiful areas of Scotland is The Cairngorms. The mountains form part of the Grampian mountain range which runs from the south-west to the north-west of Scotland. They account for a large area of the Scottish eastern highlands.
The Cairngorms also form part of the largest national park in Britain. With breath-taking scenery, majestic mountains and rivers winding through the valleys, this is a beautiful place to be. No matter where you are in the mountains you will have views of the granite contour. In summer they are covered with heather, showing off snowy peaks in the colder months of the year.
Keen mountain climbers will be spoilt for choice with 5 of the highest peaks in Scotland. Whether you want to climb in summer or winter there are plenty of options. Consider picking up your SIXT car in Inverness and driving the 55 miles down to the town of Newtonmore. It is on the west of the Cairngorms.
Here you can easily access A’Chailleach. It is one of the famous Munros (a mountain in Scotland that rises over 3,000 feet) within the national park. The Munro is visible from the town and can be reached via a track to begin your climb. While you are in Newtonmore you could drive the three miles to Kingussie. Once there visit the Highland Folk Museum and the Speyside Distillery. It is a small whisky distillery that has been running since the early 1990s – although the building dates back to the 1700s.
From this location, it is an easy drive of around 14 miles along the A9 up to Aviemore. It is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Cairngorms. From here you are well placed to indulge in winter or summer sports until your heart’s content. You can go for a ride on the Strathspey Steam Railway or visit the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre.
Known as the home of the first ski resort in the UK, Aviemore still provides skiing opportunities in winter. Ski down Cairn Gorm Mountain or, in the summer you can climb the same mountain to take in the views. Renowned for its range of outdoor activities you will be well-placed in Aviemore to indulge in activities from mountain-biking to kayaking or canoeing, fishing to walking in the wilderness – there is something for everyone no matter your level of expertise or fitness.
Another 14 miles or so along from Aviemore, on the A95 in Grantown-on-Spey. This town was built in the mid-1700s, a planned settlement on the banks of the River Spey. The town runs through the Cairngorms National Park. Take some time to explore the town of Grantown-on-Spey with its beautifully preserved architecture. While you are based here why not consider looking at one of the Speyside Wildlife Tours? You can arrange to be collected from your accommodation and taken into the Cairngorms with a specialised wildlife guide. They will take you to the key locations to see the more elusive birds and animals in their natural mountain habitats.
If you wish to drive along the highest public road in the UK, aptly named The Snow Roads, Grantown-on-Spey is a good place to begin this journey that runs the 90 miles between Grantown-on-Spey in the north of the national park and the pretty market town of Blairgowrie to the south of the Cairngorms National Park. All along this route, you will be able to spot the last snow patches of the season. The route can be driven from north to south or the other way around.
Tomintoul, Ballater and Braemar
If driving from north to south, the winding route takes you through the villages of Tomintoul, Ballater and Braemar where you will be able to stop and explore both the surrounding scenery and the villages themselves. The route itself takes you through some dramatic and, at times, breathtaking views of the glacial mountain ranges that form the Cairngorms. While in Tomintoul take some time out to explore the hiking and biking trails in the Glen Livet estate that lies between the River Avon and Conglass Water.
Ballatarand Nethy Bridge
Ballater is a charming Victorian village that offers visitors the opportunity to play golf on world-class courses as well as being surrounded by famous castles, including Balmoral which you pass on the way to Braemar. The last of these villages are home to the 17th century Braemar Castle and is also just 8 miles away from Glenshee which has a large ski resort so as well as the walking, biking and hiking opportunities afforded to you throughout this area you will be able to take in some culture or winter sporting activities if the time of year is right.
Before heading out on the Snow Roads, why not take a short road trip from Grantown-on-Spey along the B970 to Nethy Bridge. This small village in the Cairngorms is famous for the annual Abernethy Highland Games that usually take place in August. In addition to this spectacle, the village itself is worth a visit. A popular holiday place since the mid-1800s, Nethy Bridge is nestled between the Cairngorm mountains and acres of Abernethy forest and also boasts one of the Thomas Telford bridges that span the Nethy River in the centre of town.
You will not be disappointed if you decide to hire a car and take a road trip around the northeast of Scotland with its beautiful scenery – glass-like lochs reflecting the sky and the imposing granite mountains that surround them. At times you will feel like you are on top of the world.