The Best Scottish Walks
Cameron McNeish, apart from being an eloquent and lovely-mannered chap, holds the prestigious title of “Scotland’s most authoritative and well-known walker”. The seasoned hillwalker behind the Scottish Walks magazine makes the vast natural territory and voluptuous wilderness of Scotland accessible to all its home-dwellers in the quarterly runs of the magazine, now in its sixth year of circulation.
The temperateness of the oceanic Scottish climate means you can follow Cameron’s lead and experience true adventure all year round, but in the magazine’s latest edition he has dedicated a special spot to Aviemore in all its winter beauty. We recommend you get your hands on a free digital copy from www.scottishwalks.com or buy a print version for just £1.50 from 3000 independent retailers all over Scotland. This quarterly mag can serve equally well as a lifelong pocket guide and a coffee table interest.
Start Off in Style and Comfort
One of the best Scottish winter walks illustrated by Cameron starts right in the heart of Aviemore, where our four-star nest is located. Hilton Coylumbridge is the perfect pad from which to launch off into your splendid days of hiking. Take advantage of our winter sale with up to 25% off our accommodation packages. These include an overnight stay (or longer), dinner in one of our fabulous restaurants, full use of our indoor pool, sauna and gym, free parking, a 12pm checkout and our unlimited Hilton breakfast to get your energy levels nicely boosted for your walk.
Uncover the Wonders of Rothiemurcus
Cameron waxes lyrical about the “low-lying agricultural fields”, “open heather moorland” and “magnificent remnants of the ancient Forest of Caledonia” in Rothiemurcus. His recommended route commences outside Coylumbridge, from the signposted path that runs alongside the campground. When you meet the first fork, take the left past the large cairn. You’ll then find yourself in a clearing, venturing onwards to cross a stream and dive back into the woodland.
Further ahead, you’ll come across a conifer plantation. Keep going – the Iron Bridge will take you across Allt Druidh, Follow the path through another clearing until you reach a point where multiple paths go off. This is a good midpoint to take stock of your journey and drink in the character of the Aviemore landscapes. In classic Scottish style, a single malt dram sipped from a flask would cement the moment.
Celebrate the Start of Winter with Culture and Tradition
On the shortest – and possibly darkest – day of the year, Cameron shows us that the winter solstice is still a cause for celebration. This 21st December marks the one-year anniversary since he made this distinctive exploration of Rothiemurcus, and his playful commentary about Jesus’ historically plausible birth month being shifted to “break up the dour winter months, and replace the pagan winter solstice festival” is a humorous nod to our Christmas culture.
For those brave enough to march head-on into what on paper might seem to be the gloomiest day of the year, this walk has all the rewards. The winter solstice celebrations vary between different areas in Scotland, but in this modern era, they’re often marked by the building of a great bonfire termed “burning the clavie”. The clavie gets its fuel from split casks. One cask is pieced back together with a large nail, filled with flammable material, and lit on fire. When the burnt clavie crumbles, locals each grab a lit piece to kindle a fire in their own hearth.
This makes for quite an impressive sight in the darkness, and you can join in a ritual or perform your own in Aviemore – rekindling the burning spirits of our ancestors.
Behold the Might of Lairig Ghru
Picking up where we left off, take the path climbing south past Lairig Ghru and Braemar. Wander through the pines and follow another path leading off to the left (accompanied by a sign for Rothiemurcus Lodge). Walk past the lodge and trek back down towards Glenmore. After about a kilometre and a half, a footpath on the left leaves this track and criss-crosses through the forest to meet your initial upward route from Coylumbridge.
So, are you ready for an epic winter adventure crafted by one of the UK’s most experienced walkers? The dream is yours to snatch. Book a room at Hilton Coylumbridge and transform your winter!