Heading up to the Scottish Highlands, with its beautifully rugged landscape and snow capped peaks, was a wonderful experience for us during the Easter holidays. We spent a lot of our time within the Cairngorms National Park as it is not only picturesque but also has lots to offer in terms of family attractions and activities. If you’re planning a trip to the Cairngorms, have a browse through the photos below for a glimpse of what you can expect.
If you’re interested in highland heritage, visit Blair Castle and Gardens, Blair Atholl
Arriving to the sound of bagpipes, we knew this was a day out which would give us an insight into the history of the Scottish highlands. Stretching from the medieval period, the castle has been adapted throughout the years, to suit the needs of the Atholl family. Chapel ruins, pretty stone bridges, woodland and a red deer meadow also lie within the castle grounds, as well as a very cool adventure playground. Read more about our trip to Blair Castle and Gardens.
For a fun family day out, visit Landmark Forest Adventure Park, Carrbridge
The adventure park has a really good mix of attractions for families with children of all ages, from the Ant City play area for younger kids, to the Skydive parachute jump simulation for thrill seeking teens! As well as the main attractions, there are walks through the forest including a tree top trail and a wildlife feeding area. The huge Forest Tower also gives amazing 360 degree views of the park and forest as well as the mountains in the distance – that is, if you’re brave enough to venture to the top! The butterfly house is well worth a visit too, with a pretty pond and tropical plants to admire. Read more about our day at Landmark Forest Adventure Park.
While you’re in the village of Carrbridge, it’s definitely worth seeing the very pretty 300 year old Bridge of Carr, the oldest stone bridge in the highlands.
To see an unusual range of animals, visit the Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie
It was great to see a range of different animals we hadn’t encountered at other zoos, such as polar bears and super-cute arctic foxes. Being within the Cairngorms National Park, the land is naturally rugged and hilly, creating interesting enclosures for the animals to explore. There were also some great viewpoints around the park, to take in the amazing sights of the snowy peaks in the distance. Read more about our visit to the Highland Wildlife Park.
To enjoy the views over the Cairngorms, visit Cairngorm Mountain Funicular Railway, Aviemore
The funicular railway transported us up the Cairngorm mountain to the top station and the Ptarmigan restaurant and viewing platform. Unfortunately there wasn’t much to see from the viewing platform on this occasion, but an information board showed us what we would have seen if it had been a clear day! Nevertheless, the funicular train had been a fun experience and we were able to send some postcards to family and friends from the highest post box in the British Isles. Read more about our experience of the Cairngorm Mountain Funicular Railway.
To meet Britain’s only free-ranging reindeer herd, visit Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, Glenmore
The Cairngorm reindeer herd was introduced to the Cairngorms from Sweden in 1952, the sub-arctic qualities of the mountains being an ideal home for the reindeer. The trip began at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre in Glenmore, from here we drove in convoy for around one mile, followed by a 30 minute walk up to where some of the reindeer were gathered. We were then able to approach them, hand feed them and even stroke the ones who were willing to be stroked. They were so gentle and friendly, and it was a wonderful experience to visit them in their natural environment. Read more about our adventure on the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre hill trip.
To relax (and maybe indulge in a spot of afternoon tea), visit Strathspey Railway, Aviemore
Departing from Aviemore, the train took us on a very picturesque journey through the Cairngorms National Park, passing through Boat of Garten and on to Broomhill Station, while we enjoyed a selection of delicious sandwiches, scones and cakes, plus tea. After allowing us to stretch our legs and take in the scenery, the train made the return journey to Aviemore, approximately a 2 hour all round trip. Read more about our indulgent afternoon on the Strathspey Railway.
What about the weather?
Our trip to Scotland took place in April and hats and gloves were a must! Going from a scorching hot day at Chester Zoo one day, to shivering our way around the Highland Wildlife Park the following day was quite a shock to the system! Luckily we had packed base layers, which got a lot of use over the week. We found walking boots and waterproof trousers very useful too. There was actually very little snow left on the mountains during our trip (which was a little disappointing as we haven’t had ‘proper’ snow at home for a few years), but when we returned home the following week we were surprised to hear there was heavy snowfall and the highlands had been covered in a fresh scattering of snow!