Land of mountains, forest, rivers, castles and wildlife, the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland has a lot to offer to visitors. Discover my road trip through the park via the scenic Old Military Road with videos and photos:
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Driving through Cairngorms National Park- Video
Established in 2003, the Cairngorms National Park Scotland is larger than the famous Lake districts park. It covers the Cairngorms mountain range and the surrounding hills.
It has a large upland plateau, many rivers, lochs and wildlife.
Let's start with a short video showing you the drive through the Cairngorms National Park Scotland on the Old Military Road from North to South:
PLANNING TIPS - Cairngorms National Park Scotland
How to get to Cairngorms National Park
- Aviemore is the main town in Cairngorms National Park Scotland
- Located between Inverness and Edinburgh
- Aviemore in the North West of the Park is 45 min drive from Inverness and 3h drive from Edinburgh
- You can find my favorite stops on the drive with their GPS coordinates in my eBook:
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Visiting Cairngorms National Park
- Cairngorms has 5 of the 6 highest mountains in the UK and 55 munroes (peaks over 3000ft). It is the main ski destination in Winter and a favorite in summer for wildlife, mountain bike, rock climbing...
- 2 roads go through Cairngorms National Park:
- The main Road is A9 to the West
- The Old Military Road goes to the East and the center. It is a scenic road which leads to Balmoral Castle and Braemar Castle
- Balmoral Castle: opened from 1st April to 21st July from 10am to 5pm - Adult entry is £11.50 (as of 2016)
- Braemar Castle: Opened Easter to October from 10am to 5pm - Adult entry is £8 (as of 2016)
- Official Website of Cairngorms
Cairngorms Road - Highlands (North)
Beginning of the drive (arriving from Inverness)
Before arriving to the ski resort of Lecht, I noticed a small sign for the Well of Lecht. We stopped and enjoyed the vivid colors. You can do a hike from there or just enjoy a nice picnic.
Well of Lecht
Lecht Ski Area
Of course, the ski area in summer is not the most beautiful place. The equipment does not really enhance the scenery. But as we were now on the upland plateau, the views started to be really beautiful with all those patches of colors typical of the park.
Cairngorms Drive - on the upland plateau
Then the road stays on the upland plateau of the Cairngorms National Park. The views are stunning and the road goes up and down.
North of Gairnshiel, I spotted this art piece of fake monolith.
Cairngorms Drive - Lowlands (South)
Most of the Old Military Road through Cairngorms is dual lane. However sometimes you have narrower spots; One of the most famous is the Gairnshiel Bridge. Only One vehicle at the time... but the problem is you cannot really see if one is coming because of the shape of the bridge!
Take the time to stop to enjoy the peaceful scenery:
After that the Old Military Road winds though lower lands and forest. Not much to see except trees, trees, and trees!
Inside that forest, the Balmoral Castle is indicated.
There is a large parking with a cafe and toilets.
Access to the castle is via the bridge. Yyou cannot see the castle from the road.
Admission charges include parking, access to the formal and vegetable gardens, the exhibitions in the stable area and largest room in the Castle, the Ballroom. The rest is not accessible as it is the Queen's summer house.
Considering the high quantity of tourist, I decided not to visit.
Later you discover the Braemar Castle with is very visible from the road. Built in 1628, it is a really strange looking castle with an L-shape. It was used as a base for hunting parties.
You can visit the castle from Easter to October. Short in time, I decided to keep going.
As we had been through a lot of forest, I thought we were over with beautiful scenery. But the South of Cairngorms National Park Scotland still had much to offer. South of the castles, the old military road enters Glen Clunie. Discover it in photos:
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