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Overnight Breaks

Overnight Breaks, Travel

Things To Do In Aviemore

red squirrels aviemore

rothiemurchus

I’ve been going to Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands on holiday on a semi-regular basis since I was a little girl, and needless to say it’s one of my favourite parts of Scotland.  We were most recently there in late autumn last year, where we spent a week fitting in all of our favourite things to do in Aviemore, and it never disappoints.

I had actually started to put this post together after we got back but completely ran out of steam and the post has sat in my drafts folder since November.  Time to turn this ship around!  There are a ton of things to do in Aviemore, most of which are family friendly, so today I thought I’d (finally!) share some of my favourites.

Things To Do In Aviemore

The Mountain Cafe

Let’s kick this guide off starting with food, because what’s a holiday without knowing where the best places to eat are?!

Our all time favourite place to eat in Aviemore is the Mountain Cafe.  They are only open until 5pm or 5:30pm depending on the day (best to check their website before you visit), so it’s only good for breakfast or lunch, but my, the lunches are delicious.  As vegetarians we were really well catered for, with bountiful options (I went for a halloumi flatbread this time, which was delicious, but their veggie burgers are highly recommended!).  Meat eaters are also well catered for, as are vegans and those that are gluten intolerant.

It’s not just the lunches, and the cosy atmosphere that attract us to the Mountain Cafe.  The Mountain Cafe has one of the best selection of homemade cake I’ve ever seen – think 20 plus delicious cakes to choose from!  We are always too full from lunch to manage cake afterwards, but we always get some to takeaway to enjoy later!  Portion sizes are very generous too, and we always find a slice lasts two days (and from someone who loves cake then this is saying something!).  I’ve even been known to swing past the Mountain Cafe to grab some takeaway cake before boarding the train home to Edinburgh, ’tis that good.

Inshriach Nursery

Inshriach Nursery

Another favourite for tea and cake is the Potting Shed at Inshriach Nursery.  They, again, have an amazing selection of delicious homemade cake (my absolute favourite is the peanut cake!).  And while the cake would be a big enough draw in itself, the Potting Shed has an amazing viewing area that overlooks an array of squirrel and bird feeders.  It’s definitely one of life’s great pleasures, sitting eating your cake and observing the birds and red squirrels feeding.  We saw two red squirrels on our most recent trip there, which most impressed my daughter.

To burn off the cake, you can then have an amble around the nursery.  It sells a vast array of hardy alpine plants, and it’s always a joy to walk around this beautiful nursery.

Rothiemurchus Centre

Another Aviemore favourite is the Rothiemurchus Centre.  We always make a point of walking there and enjoying a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a slice of homemade cake in the cosy cafe, however the lunches do look very very good!  Whilst you’re there you can also visit the farm shop, and book any activities held on the Rothiemurchus Estate that take your fancy.  Quad biking anyone?

My daughter said she enjoyed the Rothiemurchus Centre most, out of all the things we did in Aviemore on this trip, which is quite the compliment!  I think it was the hot chocolate, cake selection and very friendly staff that swung it for her!

The Old Bridge Inn

We didn’t do any drinking on our last trip to Aviemore on account of me being pregnant, but somewhere we have thoroughly enjoyed in the past is the Old Bridge Inn.  It’s a really cosy bar, with a friendly laid back atmosphere.  We’ve spent many an evening in the past, meeting up with friends and having a few drinks in front of their log fire, and occasionally caught the odd live band.  They do serve food as well, but we’ve yet to give this a go!

I’ve also heard from friends in the area that the Cairngorm Hotel is good for a drink, and that the buffet at La Taverna is pretty good!  Next time we’re in Aviemore both are on our list!

Landmark Centre

Landmark Centre Carrbridge

We visited the Landmark Centre in Carrbridge (a few miles from Aviemore) this time around – a forest fun park.  I’d been a couple of times as a kid and had such fond memories of the place, but hadn’t been back in well over 25 years.  Visiting again as an adult did not disappoint.

It’s fantastic for families: there’s so much for kids to do, and for adults to enjoy too.  We all enjoyed the red squirrel trail (above) and my daughter loved all of the play parks, mazes and more.  We went off season where it was only £6.25 entry per adult (under four’s get in free), which was incredibly good value.  The rollercoaster, aerial assault course, and water ride were all closed, but my daughter wasn’t tall enough to go on those rides, and I wasn’t able to go on them either so the fact that they were closed made no difference to our trip (and saved us £11 each off high season prices).

Walk/Cycle

things to do in Aviemore

You’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to walking and cycling in and around Aviemore.  There are so many stunning walks and trails that it’s impossible for me to list them all here.

The very photogenic Loch An Eilein is very highly recommended for walking or cycling around.  This stunning Loch is about 4.5 miles in circumference, so makes for a good short walk/cycle.  I’ve walked it a few times, and mountain biked it and both were really enjoyable.  I am not a mountain biker by any stretch of the imagination (I’m an A to B cyclist, or a leisurely cyclist) but the trail is very gentle and ideal for beginners (or leisure cyclists like me!).  There are heaps of bike rental companies in and around Aviemore offering competitive prices on bike hire, either by the day or for longer periods of time so you don’t have to bring your own bike to enjoy the trails in and around Aviemore.

We’ve done a few walks in Glenmore, which offered stunning views, as well as around Loch Morlich and Loch Insh.  We’ve also done a few walks/cycles on the Old Logging Way.  Try the Walk Highlands website for other suggestions/routes.

Water Sports

Loch Insh Aviemore

Water sports are not my bag, but if they are yours then you’re spoiled for choice in Aviemore.  Try Loch Insh, where you can sail, kayak, canoe, and windsurf, and Loch Morlich, where you can do all of the above as well as mountain bike if you’ve had your fill of water!

Red Squirrel Spotting

red squirrels aviemore

You can’t go to Aviemore and not go red squirrel spotting.  Thankfully it’s not that hard to spot our native furry friends, but always a treat!  Spend any amount of time in any woodland in or around Aviemore and I promise you you’ll see a squirrel!  I’ve always found early morning or late afternoon best red squirrel spotting time.

Outside of Aviemore

Leakey's bookshop Inverness

If you find you’ve had your fill of Aviemore, the bright lights of Inverness aren’t far away.  When in the city I always make a point of heading straight to Leakey’s Bookshop – Scotland’s largest (and I’d say best) secondhand bookshop.  If you love old books, old maps and antique prints, then this is the place for you.  Situated in a converted church, this charming bookshop is stocked floor to ceiling with secondhand books.  A woodburner in the middle of the shop adds to the ambiance, and the upstairs cafe serving tea, cakes and lunches means you could easily spend the best part of a day in Leakey’s.

Of course, it goes without saying that Loch Ness isn’t far away either, and the charming Fort Augustus, but you don’t have to stray too far away from Aviemore to have a varied and fun packed holiday.  We’ll certainly be back soon,

Have you been to Aviemore?  What are your favourite things to do in Aviemore?

Day Trips, Overnight Breaks, Travel

Some More of Fife: Earthships & More!

Dysart Fife

Dysart Fife

The last post I did on our  holiday was getting quite lengthy (you can see part one here), so I thought I’d break it up into parts.  Here is part two: we fitted in a bit more as there is a surprising amount of things to do in Fife!

One of the things we were keen to do in Fife was take a trip to the Earthship at Kinghorn.  I had already been to the Earthship, about 9 years ago, so it was interesting to go back to see how it has changed since then.  My other half has never been before, but has a very very healthy interest in earthships, so it was good for him to see one in action.

If you don’t know, earthships are low impact eco homes made of tyres rammed with earth and stacked up on top of each other.  They are typically built into hillsides to take advantage of the geothermal mass, and tend to have large south facing windows for maximum solar gain.  If you ever get a chance to visit one, like this one in Fife, then you really should – they are fascinating!

earthship Scotland

 

Earthship Kinghorn

Since I was there last they’ve added a yurt, above, and really expanded on their gardens.  I have seen plastic bottle greenhouses all over the internet so it was great to see one up to close to see how they work:

plastic bottle greenhouse

There’s also a huge polytunnel where Earthship volunteers are growing their own produce.  My little ‘un is really into her veggies so she found the polytunnel more interesting than the Earthship!  I couldn’t get her out of the polytunnel!

polytunnelmassive vegetable

Look at the size of that squash!  It’s a monster!

tomatoes on the vineKinghorn Fife

It’s free to get in and have a look around, although donations are encouraged, and you can book guided tours (at a cost) for groups who want to know more about Earthships.  They also run courses all year round on all aspects of sustainable living too, which is pretty cool!

On our last full day in Fife we were at a bit of a loose end, so armed with fishing nets, we took a walk along a coastal path from Ravenscraig Park in Kirkcaldy to Dysart.  We didn’t really have high hopes for the walk as Kirkcaldy isn’t exactly known for it’s stunning scenery but I have to say we were very pleasantly surprised!

Kirkcaldy FifeWendy Graham

Dysart Harbour Fife

Dysart

Pan Ha Dysartfishing with nets

Dysart Harbour is really lovely and although there isn’t much to do in Dysart itself, we whiled away quite a while fishing (for stones!) on the seafront!  We ended up the day back in Ravenscraig Park, which it, itself is really pretty with a great playground for kids.

There are heaps more things to do in Fife – we didn’t touch St Andrews or the villages of Pittenweem or Anstruther – they’re on our list for next time!  And have you been to Fife?  Is there anywhere we’ve missed that you’d recommend?