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The History of Aviemore

The History of Aviemore

Posted by Hilton Coylumbridge, March, 2014

Aviemore remains, as it has been for many years, a popular destination amongst tourists from Scotland and across the globe. How much do you actually know about the history of this perfectly positioned town though?

How old is Aviemore?

The town of Aviemore itself is only a few hundred years old, but the history of human habitation in the area goes back much further than that. Aviemore is home to a ring cairn and stone circle, estimated to be around 4400 years old! Understandably, after all this time we can’t be sure of its purpose, but theories vary between it having been a place used for communal cremation (charred bones have been found at similar sites) and it being used to mark the winter solstice. Whatever its purpose, it serves as a landmark to the long history of the Aviemore area.

When did the actual town of Aviemore come into existence?

Although we know of the Grant family being stewards of the nearby Rothiemurchus estate since at least the mid-1500s, the earliest evidence for the existence of Aviemore found so far only dates back to the 1600s, when it was being used as a staging point by travellers.

What sparked the town’s growth?

There have been two significant stages in the development and growth of Aviemore. The first of these came in the 19th century, with the advent of the railway. In the 1880s, the town was described in theOrdnance Gazetteer of Scotland as:

Aviemore (Gael. abh-more, ‘great water’), a station on the Highland railway in Duthil parish, E Invernessshire, near the left bank of the Spey and at the base of Craigellachie, 12 ½ miles SW of Grantown. Here is a post office, with money order, savings’ bank, and telegraph departments; and 3 furlongs to the N is Aviemore House.

The accessibility afforded by the railway, coupled with the natural beauty of the area, ensured the town blossomed as a tourist destination. One notable 19th century visitor to the locale was Queen Victoria, who often stayed in nearby Grantown-on-Spey. She also visited much of the surrounding area, including the Cairngorms. In 1859, she even climbed Ben MacDui, the 2nd highest mountain in Scotland and the whole of the UK! Of that experience, she noted:

"It had a sublime and solemn effect, so wild, so solitary — no one but ourselves and our little party there . . . I had a little whisky and water, as the people declared pure water would be too chilling."

We won’t actually stop you drinking pure water these days...but we’re certainly happy to recommend that you do emulate Her Majesty and try a Speyside malt!

When did Aviemore begin to develop into the town we’d recognise today?

The next growth period for Aviemore was in the 1960s, when the Cairn Gorm ski resort was established, becoming the UK’s first ski resort. As well as the ski resort, The Aviemore Centre complex was also opened in the town in the 1960s, with royals once again being drawn to the area. Prince Charles and Princess Anne both attended Royal Hunt Balls in the Centre’s Osprey Rooms in the 1970s. That was a decade when television channels came calling too, with two episodes of the BBC’s It’s a Christmas Knockout being recorded at the complex.

What’s happening in Aviemore now?

Aviemore’s still a thriving holiday destination all year round, with an abundance of outdoor activities for all seasons. Skiing, mountain biking, quad biking, fishing...these are just a small taster of what you could be doing. At the Hilton Aviemore Coylumbridge Hotel we’re ideally positioned to let you make the most of the Cairngorms, Loch Morlich, Loch Insh, Loch an Eilein, the River Spey, the River Druie and much more. 

To enjoy the perfect spring break in Aviemore, please contact us now.

01479 810661

reservations.coylumbridge@hilton.com