Established in 2003, Cairngorms National Park is more than double the size of the Lake District, and offers incredible mountain views, distilleries, wildlife, and rivers around every corner.
Containing five out of six of the largest mountains in the United Kingdom, this region has been on the lucky side of Mother Nature. Whilst it might seem like weather conditions are harsh, (the mountains sit upon the coldest and snowiest plateau in Britain) this has opened up a whole industry for skiing.
We made the journey from the Scottish Borders, a lovely drive on both sides of Edinburgh, stopping at Queensferry along the way. We have never driven mountain roads before so weren’t really sure of what to expect, the roads seemed fine… or so we thought! No they aren’t too bad, but when it’s pitch black and there are no road lights (which is a good thing!), it can be a little daunting…especially when you have no phone signal and haven’t printed out a map.
However, we did make it in one piece, having passed a few stags and scary looking mountains along the way. We had booked into Morven Cottage, a gorgeous wooden cottage featured by Sykes Cottages. Sykes Cottages are a UK based letting company who have organised thousands of holidays for people all across Britain, and our cosy cottage did not disappoint.
Nestled on the River Gairn, and just six miles from Ballater, Morven Cottage is a spacious, two bedroom lodge perfect for couples or families, and equipped with its own hot tub! I would highly recommend cottage accommodation in this area as they are situated in beautiful locations where hotels just don’t fit in.
The next morning we got up, enjoyed breakfast, and went off to explore. We had no plan in mind, but decided to back track where we had driven the night before.
I would recommend having some sort of plan if you are here only for a few days, the area is huge and there is so much to see. Morven Cottage was located in the eastern part of the National Park, this suited me just perfectly. There are a fair few castles dotted around, we are talking about Scotland after all.. However, the most famous has got to be Balmoral, right? Just fifteen minutes from the door of our cottage and we were looking at one of the most famous residences of the Royal Family, pretty cool huh?
Take a drive further down the road west of Crathie and you will find a parking area at Auchallater. Park up and follow the designated walkway, you will find yourself surrounded by rugged, almost baron landscape, with a few friendly birds along the way. But keep going, as over the brow of the hill is Loch Callater, a lesser known, very quiet loch, with just a single house perched on its edge.
With a heavy camera bag on my bag, I was pretty tired and sore after the long walk, so we jumped in the car and drove to nearby Braemar, the third coldest low lying place in the UK! It wasn’t too cold to be fair, but most things were shut so it was only a quick stop before taking off for another scenic drive to Ballater.
After cooing over some Highland Cows we decided to have a play around with the drone. What you can see on ground level is pretty epic, but it’s even better from above…
I do miss the Cairngorms, it has a ruralness (yes I know that’s not a real word) I have never quite seen before in the UK. If you are looking for rugged landscapes, great walking opportunities and the windiest roads you can find in Britain, this is your place!
If you are interested in renting a cottage through Sykes Cottages or staying at Morven Cottage, please click here.