This time last year we were combing the Scottish countryside on a 9-day tour to soak up the landscapes and culture of Jimmy’s homeland. We spent time with family and friends in St. Andrews, went searching for Nessie in Loch Ness, and strolled along the idyllic beaches on the Isle of Lewis.
A colorful St. Andrews morning stroll
The grounds of Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness
Sheep enjoying the view, Isle of Lewis
It was a memorable trip full of warm people and cold places (it was December after all). One of our favorite days together was spent in Aviemore, a well-known holiday town in the Cairngorms National Park. Jimmy had gushed for months about how Aviemore was one of his favorite places in the world – the WORLD people. There was a lot of hype to live up to… it didn’t disappoint.
There are no shortages of things to do in Aviemore over the holidays. Many people flock to CairnGorm Mountain for skiing and snowboarding. Families can visit the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd or ride the Strathspey Steam Railway. As for us, we were looking to get outside to enjoy a hike on that bonnie day.
Glenmore Reindeer Center, Aviemore. Photo Credit.
We headed from town to the Glenmore Visitor Center, but first we had to pull over and take in the beauty that was Loch Morlich. With the mist billowing over its baltic waters, the lake had an inviting feeling as the sunshine broke over the mountains and lit the glistening snow.
First glimpse of Loch Morlich
Mist over the frozen Loch
Sunrise lit the snow ablaze
After enjoying a stroll around the lake and a quick game of don’t break the ice, we were on our way to the visitor center. If you’re not familiar with the area the center is worth a stop – if only to grab a map and ask where to start in the expansive park. We did just that and were directed to the Allt Mor trail. For a small fee we parked our car and were on our way.
Views along the Allt Mor Trail
I don’t know what it was, but hiking along the trail seemed almost magical. We commented that it felt like we just fell through the wardrobe and straight into the snow covered forest of Narnia.
The trail is aptly named given it follows the Allt Mor creek as you continue your climb up to Cairngorm Mountain car park.
Allt Mor Creek runs along the trail
Aside from the gorgeous views along the way, perhaps the reason we were so enamored with our hike was the obvious lack of people. While I’m prone to say this is likely a popular trail, we only passed a couple groups as we neared the top of the mountain. Other than that we were surrounded by the peaceful yet lively noises of the woodland trail.
You’ll “feel the burn” as you ascend to the top
And somehow, these adorable messages kept popping up along the way.
Must be from some friendly snow bunnies
As you near the top you are thrust back into reality. You’re not in Narnia, but rather you have found a busy car park at the top of the mountain for the skiers. There are facilities and a café to stock up on a snack or hot chocolate before making your way down again.
As you head back, soak in those last breathtaking views of Glenmore.
Want to check out the Allt Mor trail for yourself? Here is some general information about the trail before you go. While the map recommends 1 hour up and a 1/2 hour down, it was longer for us – primarily due to me stopping and oohing every 5 minutes.
What is one of your favorite day hikes?