Craigellachie Nature Reserve and the Mountain Cafe, Aviemore

There is so much to do in Aviemore it’s hard to know where to start, so I decided to break myself in gently by starting small and working my way up to the more adventurous sights.

Nestled in the Cairngorm National Park, Aviemore is a busy town all year round with tourists and locals doing various activities by land, mountain, water, snow and tree (yes, they have zip wires – I cannot wait for that one to happen!).

Our first trip was the easy-to-find Craigellachie National Nature Reserve, just off the main road from the centre of Aviemore where the car park is shared with the YHA hostel. As someone with a shockingly bad sense of direction (I have a bad habit of just going in straight lines), this was a winner.

Forest trail2

We took the viewpoint trail (one out of four options – this one being the longest) which took us a 5km route up through a forest followed by a relatively steep ascending path to the cairns at the top. When reaching the summit, we were met with panoramic views over Strathspey and the Cairngorm Mountains. Even on a slightly hazy day, the scenery did not disappoint.

Although the trail is only minutes from the A9, it’s impossible to hear traffic once you set out on the path and the sound of birds was a constant presence. This was no gentle meander, however. Coming back down required series concentration and definitely some decent grip on our shoes.

Our next stop was to try out the award winning Mountain Cafe for a caffeine fix. This is known throughout the Highlands as a ‘go to’ place in Aviemore for great locally sourced food and real coffee.

We had a fifteen minute wait for a table but the time was taken up mainly by reading the hundreds of posters and adverts pinned to the wall displaying all that was on offer in the area. Yoga, massage, kayaking, folk music nights… the list was endless. Did I mention there is a lot to do here?

Situated on the first floor of a mountain equipment shop, the exterior does not reflect what you are met with inside. This is more of a small bistro style restaurant with professional looking baristas and a vibrant atmosphere.

There is a good menu offering options for lunch, a huge display counter of every type of cake you could think of and a variety of beverages (both stimulating and non-stimulating 😉).

The staff were friendly, coffee was great and it was clear that this would become a regular haunt for future trips.

All of this is only 30 minutes away from Inverness by car or 45 mins by train.

The only hard part is deciding what to do next…

For more information on the Mountain Cafe you can follow them on Facebook or check out their website. More info on Craigellachie can be found at Scotland’s National Nature Reserves.



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