Woman walking along rocky footpath with purple heather on the left and a lake at the bottom.
Woman walking along rocky footpath with purple heather on the left and a lake at the bottom.

Aberdeenshire - Cairngorms National Park

Experience all that the Cairngorms National Park has to offer

The Cairngorms National Park is the largest and most northerly National Park in Britain. Its spectacular landscape includes heather moorlands, wild, high mountains, magnificent forests, lowland farms and crofts, wetlands, and rivers that wind through flood plains.

The Cairngorms National Park is a world-famous region where locals and tourists can take advantage of an unparalleled array of outdoor recreation opportunities that cater to all ages, abilities, and interests. There's something for everyone, from strenuous mountain hikes to rambles through ancient woodlands, dips in freshwater lochs and wildlife spotting.

A quarter of the rare and endangered species in the UK are found in the Cairngorms. It's the location of Scotland's most ambitious landscape-scale conservation action and contains some of the largest natural habitats in the UK. It has 18,500 residents and has more than two million visitors every year.

One of the many ways to see the Park's sights, nature, and wildlife is by biking and cycling. There are routes that are suitable for families, beautiful rides on quiet roads, and some of the best mountain bike trails in Scotland for riders of all abilities.

If you’re keen on road cycling, the 90-mile Snow Roads scenic route takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes on the eastern side of the Park and along the highest public roads in Britain. From Grantown-on-Spey, you can travel through Tomintoul, Ballater, Braemar, and Blairgowrie. This ride is entirely on roads and includes some of the steepest ascents and descents, particularly the Glenshee Ski Centre's Cairnwell Pass, which is 670 meters above sea level.

Two of Scotland's Great Trails pass through the park: the Speyside Way and the Cateran Trail.

You can also 'bag yourself a Munro'. Munros are mountains in Scotland with a minimum height of 3,000 feet (approximately 914 metres). They're named after Sir Hugh Thomas Munro, who was the first person to list all of these mountains in the Journal of the Scottish Mountaineering Club in 1891.

Climbing a Munro means passing through ancient Caledonian pinewoods, taking in historic sites, and reaching summits higher than anywhere else in the British Isles. The Cairngorms National Park has the most extensive range of mountains in the entire United Kingdom. These mountains are surrounded by beautiful valleys and rivers and resemble arctic-like wilderness plateaus. In order to bag a Munro, you should prepare well in advance, factor in your ability (and anyone who will be with you), the weather, and your equipment.

One of the best places to see a night sky filled with stars is the Tomintoul and Glenlivet area. The area has been given the prestigious title of International Dark Sky Park because of its spectacular vantage points and expansive horizons.

There's a lot of variety in the Cairngorms National Park - it's a living, working area from the wild high mountains to the heather moorlands and peatlands, to the woodland, the ranches and crofts, and the wetlands and waterways that wind through the flood fields.

Different parts of the Park are separated by mountains, so they each have their own culture and identity.