Marching forward into Spring and Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Whilst it’s great to spoil and pamper Mum, it’s also the perfect opportunity for the family to get together to try out a new activity, bond or just simply spend some quality time together. The Cairngorms is one of the most fortunate places on the planet during the Spring months – with snow on the mountain tops, daffodils showing their vibrant yellow faces in the valleys and so much to do, see and explore.
So, this month What’s On thought we would help your discover some of the best things to do in the UK’s largest National Park as a family – no matter what your age you are sure to enjoy one, if not all, of the activities below….
Winter Olympics Inspiration
If, like many of us, you have been inspired by the immense talents of the athletes at the Winter Olympics in Sochi then why not give it a go yourself? With three ski areas in the National Park you’ll be spoilt for choice and each one has their own identity and plus points so you’ll not be disappointed. There’s over 90km of pisted runs and heaps of off piste terrain to explore if you know your stuff.
CairnGorm Mountain offers maximum variety with a terrain park full of kickers and rails as well as a host of simple to challenging runs. The Lecht is particularly good for families and beginners with excellent nursery slopes and even a magic carpet to help get you started!
Glenshee is the largest ski and snowboard area in Scotland and home to the infamous Tiger, one of the most challenging black runs around. Glenshee also has lots of terrain – both natural and manmade – to keep all abilities happy with endless gullies, bowls, jumps and hits to explore.
If you feel the need to brush up on your skills then book a lesson with one of the great ski schools. The knowledgeable and friendly guys and girls at Freshtrack Glenshee and The Ski School at Cairngorm Mountain will soon have you enjoying the feeling of boarding or skiing down the mountain.
Take a swing through the trees
With an exhilarating 100 metre zip wire finale, rope bridges and Tarzan swings, TreeZone Aerial Adventure on Aviemore’s Rothiemurchus Estate is a must for anyone wanting an adrenalin filled couple of hours or simply the chance to spot a few red squirrels in the trees! It’s the best way to see the Park from a completely different view point and the fantastic team of instructors make sure that each and every one of you will have an amazing experience as you literally swing, climb, scramble and fly through the treetops with a big grin on your face!
Turn up and have a go…
Archery is the classic ‘turn up and have a go’ activity. It’s great fun and the majority of people can demonstrate an aptitude for archery when they get the chance to try it. You don’t even need to don green tights and a peaked hat to become good enough within the hour to hit the bull’s-eye! There are a host of activity centres: Loch Insh, Alvie Estate, Craggan Outdoors, Rothiemurchus Estate and Deeside Activity Park that allow you to learn this skillful and ancient sport which is great fun at all times of the year and very popular if its too wet or windy to do other things.
You want to ride your bicycle?
There are absolutely masses of cycle routes both off and on road around the Cairngorms National Park… it’s one of the best ways to see so much of the area. As you cycle along, keep your eyes open for red squirrels, stags and capercaillie on your travels. With over 64km of off road trail biking, the Cairngorms National Park must be one of the safest and most scenic places to ride your bike, and what’s more, Scotland was voted the best place in the world for mountain biking – for two years in a row! There are plenty of places to hire bikes, child seats and trailers suitable for the whole family.
Taking a complete biking holiday is easy, as the Park is accessed by a direct train service from most UK cities and once here you can circumnavigate the entire region on your bike! Alternatively, if it’s the thrill of the wind in your hair as you race downhill – pay a visit to the Glenlivet Estate’s new trails or Laggan Wolftrax.
Walk on the Wild Side
In order to meet some of the areas resident wildlife you will need to head to the Highland Wildlife Park. Here you will meet Walker and Arktos (the UK’s only resident polar bears in a public collection), Elara and Puika – the wolves and wildcats, Arctic foxes, bison, snow monkeys and elk. You can also time it right and see the Amur tigers, wildcats and red pandas getting their afternoon snack; listen to the keepers talk about the uniqueness of each and every animal in the Park; or take a tour around the Park on a Land Rover guided safari. It’s a day you’ll never forget!
That’s just a snapshot of the fantastic activities on offer in the Cairngorms National Park for the entire family. Check out www.visitcairngorms.com to find out more, let your imagination take flight and your adventure begin!
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