The leaves have turned, the dark has drawn in and the temperature has dropped. At this time of year, there’s nothing better than a bracing walk to blow away the cobwebs followed by a warming whisky or hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire, or even in a hot tub! We reveal some of the best places to do this in the Cairngorms National Park.
1.Loch then Hot Choc
Walk around Loch an Eilein in Rothiemurchus, an easy family-friendly route of about 5K. Then head for the nearby Druie cafe, where you can warm up cupping a scrumptious hot chocolate with all the works. You can also pop into the farm shop next door & pick up some local delicacies.
2. Stay in a Luxury Lodge with a Roaring Fire
The Cairngorms is bursting with beautiful lodges for rent, many with roaring fires to snuggle up in front of after an invigorating winter walk. Companies with many such lodges on their books include Handpicked Lodges, Great North Lodges & Highland Hideouts in the west and Cairngorms Lodges & Glen Clova Hotel Luxury Lodges in the east. For Blair Atholl area, try Atholl Estates Highland Lodges.
3. Whisky Tour, then Luxury Hotel for a Warm Welcome
Take a tour around Royal Lochnagar Distillery on Royal Deeside, then relax at the five star hotel the Fife Arms in Braemar. There’s an inviting open fire in its main lounge or, if you’re after real luxury, hire the ‘Fire Room’ for private dining. This sumptuous room is modelled on a cosy Scottish croft complete with sheepskin rugs and an impressive fireplace.
4. Walk, Warming Drink, then Steam Train Back
Walk or bike from Boat of Garten to Aviemore, via the Speyside way, and enjoy unspoilt, majestic views of the Cairngorm mountain range in all its glory. The well marked track is about 10km and passes through heather-clad moorland, running parallel to the railway track. When in Aviemore, there are a few great pub options for cosying up in front of the fire, such as the Old Bridge Inn and the Cairngorm Hotel. Both of these are near the quaint Aviemore railway station, from which you can take the charming steam train back to Boat of Garten. Of course, you can also do this route in reverse, re-fuelling at the Boat Hotel or Anderson’s Restaurant.
5. Gorgeous Glen Walk then Cosy Hotel Fire
According to walking bible Walk Highlands, Glen Tilt is one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland. Walk the clearly marked loop around this glen (9.25 miles), which delivers stunning views at its highest point, then warm up fireside in the snug lounge bar of the Atholl Arms Hotel, Blair Atholl.
6. Pick a Property with a Hot Tub
Perhaps the most enjoyable way to warm up after a brisk, cobweb-blowing walk is by relaxing in a hot tub. There are many amazing places to stay here that boast a tub (again contact the companies mentioned on the previous page). For both a hot tub and a sauna, the lovely Downie’s Cottage, near Braemar, is a great choice. Or, if you’re staying in MacDonald Aviemore Resort, remember it also has a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
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