The Cairngorms National Park, at 4,528sq km, is the biggest National Park in the UK. The sheer size, scale and remoteness of the Cairngorms make them one of the most dramatic mountain environments in Britain. There’s a reason National Geographic magazine voted it one of the top 20 places to visit in the world.
With all this space and all these peaks it’s not surprising that walking is by far the most popular activity enjoyed by locals and visitors. It’s a great way to explore the area – whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro. You certainly don’t need to undertake a serious expedition to enjoy the Cairngorms, there’s something for everyone from old drove roads and tranquil forest trails to long distance treks or one of the 43 Munros.
The opportunities to explore the beauty of the Cairngorms are endless with footpaths that pass through almost every type of walking route imaginable from moor and woodland, riverside to loch edge and beautiful farmland.
If you have a passion for walking, The Cairngorms Explorer is a must read for you. Pick up a copy at the start of your stay. There are several outdoor activity providers who provide guided summer and winter walks and expeditions in the area.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on your walking adventures in the Cairngorms National Park…
Meet the Countryside Rangers…
Countryside Rangers not only help to look after the wildlife and landscape, they welcome visitors to the countryside and help people discover what’s around them. Pop into any of the twelve Ranger Bases to find out more about the local area. Countryside Rangers often run guided walks and put on events to help you learn more about the Park, so keep an eye on www.visitcairngorms.com for up to date information.
Looking for a challenge? There are several long distance routes in the Cairngorms National Park including the Speyside Way which starts in Aviemore and wynds 65 miles all the way to Spey Bay in the Moray Firth. Other routes include the Deeside Way, the Cateran Trail, the Badenoch Way, National Cycle Route 7 and the Dava Way. All have stunning views and offer the chance to explore the Park at your own pace.
A great option for seeing more of the Cairngorms is to join in with one of the area’s walking festivals. The Cairngorms National Park plays host to a wide range of walking festivals throughout the year. Walks range from short, low-level, ranger-led walks to strenuous hikes bagging some the UK’s highest peaks. What’s On brings you the lowdown on the very best Walking Festivals happening in the Park this month.
Angus Glens Walking Festival 5-8 June
The Angus Glens are in the south of the Cairngorms National Park, and consist of five glens from West to East, offering breathtaking landscapes and impressive coastal views. Now in its 12th year, the Angus Glens Walking Festival is firmly established in Scotland’s outdoor activities calendar, offering 4 days of walks and evening entertainment. All the walks are guided by experienced mountain leaders and are joined by Countryside Rangers, Estate Managers and Ecologists, so there’s no end of knowledge on hand! If you’ve still got the energy after a day in the outdoors, there are evening talks and a suitably energetic ceilidh on Saturday night.
Cairngorm Mountain Walking Festival 23-27 June
This year sees the launch of the first Walking festival at Cairngorm Mountain. Rangers and guides will take you around the mountain trails and to see the unique wildlife the area is famous for. There are two grades of walk: Hill Walks starting at 10am, bring your boots and kit for a full day out; and Medium walks which can be enjoyed in boots or good sturdy shoes. The medium walks are a bit shorter and start at 1.30pm. Make sure you book in advance.
Moray Walking Festival 19-23 June
Scotland’s Midsummer Walking Festival based in the Moray region has over 40 walks and events encompassing hills, forests, rivers and town walks. There’s a walk for everyone including awe-inspiring sights of osprey, dolphins and red squirrels. For those partial to a wee dram try the Glenlivet Smugglers Walk where you follow in the footsteps of the old whisky smugglers, taking in Carn Daimh summit (569m/1866ft) and have a tour of The Glenlivet Distillery afterwards.
Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Sponsored Walk 7th June
Every year the Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team holds a sponsored walk to raise much needed funds. This year’s walk is on the Glen Tannar estate and takes in 23km and some of the finest mountain and hill scenery in Deeside. It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience a stunning part of the Cairngorms, meet new people and help raise funds for a vital volunteer rescue service.
Whatever you do and wherever you explore, make sure you are well prepared with good footwear and appropriate clothing.
Remember – you can walk, cycle, ride a horse or paddle a canoe in the National Park but you must do so responsibly and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
If you want to take part in any of the organised walks mentioned above make sure you book in advance. Details can be found at www.visitcairngorms.com/whatson
Keep an eye on www.visitcairngorms.com for more walking festivals and events throughout the year and for everything you need to plan your visit to the Cairngorms National Park.
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