Travel Review: Aviemore, Scotland

Spey Valley
Spey Valley

Adventure is the buzz word in our household at the moment. The sun is shining and so it’s a case of getting outside as much as possible.

Now Ruaridh (7) and Flora (4) are getting more independent, it means they can explore more and act out their Famous Five games.

With fun being the name of the game, it’s great to have it all in one place. Aviemore in The Highlands of Scotland is a perfect base for a family as there is so much to see and do and most of it is outdoors.

It’s quite a hike up from Lancashire, but once you get there and the air is clean and the hills quiet, it is worth that long drive.

Accommodation wise, The Mcdonald Aviemore Resort, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, is a good place to stay as its just off the main street of this small town and there are several hotels to chose from, depending on what it is your after. All are served by a swimming pool, complete with a sauna and steam room and a giant flume for the children to enjoy. Just next door a new children’s centre has opened where the little ones can enjoy hours of play ranging from puppet shows for the toddlers up to chill out and games zones for the older ones, there is even a mini fitness section for them, as well as the usual climbing frames. This is in addition to an outdoor adventure play area and a 3D cinema, with a huge shopping mall for all those souvenirs.

We stayed in the Highland Hotel and our room was modern, spacious and with all the mod cons of Internet access, tea and coffee making facilities and luxury bubbles for the bath. Breakfast was a sumptuous affair with freshly cooked full breakfasts on offer next to the more healthier options of fruit and cereal.

The resort has a range of dining options from a food court and an Italian to a steak club, which is five minutes drive away from the resort next to the newly built championship golf course and serves up specially aged steaks to die for, accompanied by the traditional chips, mushrooms and tomatoes. There is an array of starters using freshly local produce and old fashioned puddings such as knickerbocker glory to tempt your tastebuds.

The resort is surrounded by ancient Caledonian pine forests and there is a nearby nature reserve with plenty of walking and bike trails.

A short drive away from Aviemore is the lovely village of Carrbridge, made famous by the World Porridge Making Championships and an ancient stone bridge which greets you as you enter.

The village is also home to The Landmark Forest Adventure Park, packed full of fun. From the Lost Labyrinth to the Wild Water Coaster, you are sure to have a good time. The designer of the park has a good sense of humour as the there are lots of witty signs as you work your way through the labyrinth and the Wonder Wood. The great thing is that all the attractions are in a forest, so even if it rains, you can still have fun.

Ruaridh loved the Tarzan Trail which gave him a chance to test out his muscles and work his way across rope bridges and wooden steps. He also worked hard to make sure he reached the top of the climbing frame, no small feat for a tiddler!

Flora was happy to play on the motorised bikes and make mum walk up the hundreds of steps to the water flume, which has three different speeds from sedate to heart in your mouth! There’s an Ant City for the younger children to explore and a Ropeworx for the older ones to try. And if the weather is bad there is a collection of illusions for all to enjoy.

The park is enclosed in such a peaceful forest it is also nice to explore the trail which gives you the chance to spot red squirrels and the fire tower, affording fine views of the area.

Once the park fun was over, it was time for some serious cycling. The area is rich in trails and its nice and safe for the children to ride out. And a good opportunity to try to new products from bike experts at Thule. Serious bike enthusiasts will love the Thule Round Trip Transition. This is basically a suitcase for your bike! There is a stand to allow you to take all the wheels, chains and other precious items off and then a hard shell box to store and transport them in. Nylon bags are also provided to protect those precious wheels!

And to make sure you are catered for when it comes to travelling with the snacks and equipment, Thule has just launched a Thule Pack ‘n’ Pedal Commuter Pannier. This waterproof carrier allows you to take the essentials and there is even a special section for your laptop – what more could two young adventurers ask for?!

Factfile:

Accommodation: The Macdonald Aviemore Resort has a series of hotels which cater for all types of travellers. The Highlands Hotel is ideal for families as it is located right next to the leisure and play facilities. The hotel village also contains a shopping mall, 3D cinema and a nearby championship golf course. For latest prices and offers on all the hotels, log onto www.MacdonaldHotels.co.uk/Aviemore or call 0844 879 9152.

Activities: The Landmark Forest Adventure Park at Carrbridge is outdoor heaven for young and old alike who love to have fun in the fresh air. Check out: www.landmarkpark.co.uk

Bike essentials: The Highlands are a haven for bike enthusiasts with plenty of trails to test out your skills. Cycle experts Thule have all the gear you need, with latest additions including a bike case to keep your machine safe during transport and a commuter pannier, to keep all those essentials in. For a full list of products and latest prices, log onto www.thule.com