Getting to Aviemore from Hampshire, is never the quickest journey. However my journey was pretty relaxing and actually as quick as it could be. Flying from Heathrow to Inverness, the wind made sure there was enough turbulence to make the grey cloud more interesting! I had booked Highland Yaks to pick me up from the airport and take me to Aviemore. I couldn’t recommend Highland Yaks enough – they were very easy to contact, on time, and nice and friendly. Having booked a night at the lovely Ravenscraig B&B, I was relieved to find them so accommodating with my 11am arrival.
After a quick sort out, I headed out for a bite to eat at the café in Tiso. I decided to have my mail meal at lunchtime with having just learnt that the restaurants are currently not serving food past 6pm. It also gave the weather a chance a brighten up! Ordering a burger from Tiso certainly was not a mistake. And taking a piece of their caramel shortcake home for dinner is a must!
Craigellachie National Nature Reserve
After I had refuelled, I decide to go for a little walk around Craigellachie National Nature Reserve. This is ideally located right next to Aviemore, the other side of the A9. It is easy to access by going to the Highland Resort at the bottom end of Aviemore, walking past their play area/activity area and walking through an underpass.
Craigellachie means crag of the rocky place and it is clear to see why. There is a choice of four foothpaths, all different distances and difficulty. Three are circular, and one is linear at 4.4km long up to the summit of Craigellachie.
I chose to follow the longest one, the linear trail called the viewpoint trail, with an ascent of about 302m. This was a lovely walk, initially going past Loch Pulladern. The water was amazingly clear, and the shadows of the trees reflected beautifully in the water. I also saw numerous fish jump in the middle of the Loch. I followed the edge of this loch round, and then onto a path winding through the lovely colours of the autumn Birch.
After going over a little stream I reached the Old Reservoir. Although it was still beautiful, this time with the crags looming in the distance, it didn’t have the same woodland mystical feel to it. Nevertheless, I followed the edge of the lake, rather than taking the higher path. On reaching a track, and turning left, the steepness increased quite dramatically and was quite sustained. As I climbed past a water tank, I started to top out above the tree line and got glorious views of the birches and trees.
At the top there is a fantastic viewpoint over the Strathspey and Cairngorms National park. I could see some cloud lingering over the mountain tops in the distance, but this just added to the view. It is also home to the common buzzard and peregrine falcons. Unfortunately I didn’t see either, but keep your eyes peeled for them. It was clear the weather was starting to close in, so I decided to do a tiny bit of nav practise, and went off to find a small loch. Once this was found I decided to find a spot height. But after getting into a boggy ground I decided against this, and continued onto a saddle instead. Battling the wind, I could see why no one else was going this far. However I got a glorious view of Lochan Dubh over the other side.
I decided to not carry on to the cairn and turn around at this point. Having had a lovely stretch of the legs, I didn’t want to get caught out with the rain. So, turning around I followed the same route back more or less. The only section I did differently was towards the end where instead of going round the edge of Loch Pulladern, I took the slightly higher path and went through a lovely open glade.
Walking back through the hotel complex to Aviemore town centre, I felt like I had found a secret part of Aviemore. So, if you are wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle, and have a bit of peace then I can highly recommend a walk in Craigellachie.