For our first multi-night motorhome adventure we headed to the wonderful Cairngorms in the February half-term. We rammed the motorhome (Lolli – as named by the children) with our mountain biking, hiking and skiing paraphenlia as well as books, games, computer, tablet, magazines, colouring books and pens, cuddly toys and DVDs. As we were flying home (the grandparents were then driving Lolli back) we had to leave Rorie the Dog behind. That was difficult, and pretty much all holiday we looked at the wonderful scenery pensively and stated “Rorie would have loved this”
It’s a long old way from South Wales to Aviemore (especially with frequent stops to minimise the ‘how much longer?’ questions from the back), so we stopped off at Glentress for an overnight stay and an early morning spin on the red graded MTB route, perfect as a quick adrenaline fix for the experienced biker. Whilst the skills area is great for kids and adults, beginners and experienced alike, and a great distraction if you are tag teaming it. The showers are fabulous, the bike shop is well stocked with super-friendly staff and the café is lovely place to while away an hour drinking hot chocolate and watching inspiring mountain biking videos.
Once showered and fed, we headed up to Aviemore. I love Aviemore with lots of outdoor shops and places to eat (I especially recommend the Mountain Café with its huge plates of fresh food, huge slices of cake and the chili hot chocolate that is soooo good). The walking and riding is all around you, and all with the backdrop of the Cairngorms in your sight. It has a frontier town feeling to it as you wander past tired looking climbers, with their kit on their backs, and you can’t help but feel excited at the thought of getting out into the outdoor playground that is all around you.
We wild camped at various spots around the Aviemore area including lovely Laggan, for anyone who has read my recent Scotland mountain biking post, then you will know that the Laggan red mountain bike trail has a special place in my heart. I was excited at the thought of riding it in the snow (it was February after all), however there was no white stuff to be seen and I biked with sunglasses and shorts (In Scotland! In February!!) Nonetheless, Laggan did not disappoint and my love affair with it will continue for some years yet.
Click here for a video of Tan biking at Laggan The kids managed to pedal to the top of the bike park – with a bit of help from us – and they loved the long flowy descent. This is our five year old daughter on her first try.
We stayed at one campsite just outside Aviemore called Rothiemurchas. It’s fabulously located with the best toilets and showers I have ever seen in a British campsite. There are walking/biking trails all around the area, so no need to get in the car at all, and Gryff and Tan spent several hours b
uilding dens in the woods that surrounded th
e campsite. We did an 8km ride from there which was a family friendly route with several fun stream crossings and all traffic free
Another highlight was nearby Morlich Lake with it’s 5km walk/cycle circuit passing an impressive inland beach. Continue a bit further and you reach the end of the road at the ski centre for a stiff walk into the heart of the Cairngorm mountains.
We were lucky as the weather was kind, nonetheless we purchased a 3 day family guest pass to the McDonald Resort leisure facilities, which gave us access to the swimming pool with a slide, wave machine, Jacuzzi and sauna. At the entrance of the pool there is also soft play area with a coffee/icecream shop. It’s easy to while away a few rainy hours there.
Staying in the motorhome gave us the freedom to travel around, and to ‘camp’ wild. However you won’t do much wrong by locating yourself in or near Aviemore in one of the hotels, B&Bs, lodges or campsites, as all of the activities we did are within a short driving distance. Additionally, there is also the Highland Safari Park, the Highland Folk Museum and the Landmark Forest Adventure park all great places for the family to visit (on our list to visit for next time). And of course weather dependant….a spot of skiing.