Think skiing and what places spring to mind: Val d'Isere? Whistler? St Moritz? A resort in the heart of the Scottish Highlands might not evoke the glamour of such illustrious names, but Aviemore in Inverness-shire is the destination of choice for the UK's piste artistes. High on the northern fringes of the vast (1,748 sq mi) Cairngorms National Park, Aviemore is a year-round base for outdoor enthusiasts of all persuasions. From kayaking on Loch Morlich to tackling the mighty Munros of Britain's highest, coldest, and snowiest mountain range, this unspoilt landscape is a veritable smorgasbord of epic features just waiting to be explored.
And while there's a refreshing lack of exclusivity about Aviemore – which can't always be said about some of its continental counterparts – accommodation at the resort proper often falls on the pricey side. What a treat then to find Aviemore Glamping – a hassle-free pod site in the grounds of a charming B&B.
Plotted in the shadow of Craigellachie Hill, Aviemore Glamping is a the perfect base for your outdoors adventure holiday; near enough the slopes to indulge in a spot of après-ski, but a safe distance from the hustle and bustle of the resort so you can enjoy that all important r'n'r. Though you shouldn't come expecting sprawling fields (it is a little compact), this stylish site offers excellent value town-centre accommodation.
The four ingeniously-designed little timber pods comfortably sleep a couple on the fold-out double. The immaculately maintained shower/wet room is a true feat of ergonomics, and unlike some other designs, there's a real sense of space and light thanks to the massive circular window. Most importantly, these cosy cabins keep nice and toasty in those teeth-chatteringly cold Highland evenings. They're kitted out with all the kit and caboodle you could need including bedding, cutlery and utensils. Though there aren't any cooking facilities, you need only nip across the gravel path for your full-hearted Scottish breakfast, courtesy of full-hearted hostess Pat. So while this is far from 'roughing it' under canvas, glampers are provided with a communal firepit so you can toast marshmallows and stare heavenward at the pristine blanket of stars. And isn't that what it's really all about?
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RothiemurchusRothiemurchus Estate, Coylumbridge, Nr. Aviemore, Inverness-shire PH22 1QH
Trees, trees, trees. Oh the trees!… Perfect for working on your Tarzan impression.
Lazy DuckNethy Bridge, Inverness-shire PH25 3ED
The best part about the Lazy Duck is being like one. Stunning Views, hammocks and a sauna means you have no excuse but to get lazy.
Glenmore Camping in the Forest SiteAviemore, Inverness-shire PH22 1QU
A little oasis of green, and one of the finest places in Britain for wildlife spotting.
4 pods (plus the B&B). No tent or caravan pitches.
Glamping couples, kids – yes. Groups are allowed but not hen or stag parties. No dogs in the pods but there are two rooms in the B&B that permit pooches.
There are 4 units each sleeping two. Each has its own en-suite wet room as well as tea and coffee making facilities. All pods come fully equipped with bed linen, towels, cups, glasses (plus complimentary tea, coffee and milk). BBQ area outside with firepit (disposable BBQs and firewood available to buy).
The Cairngorms National Park boasts endless eye candy and outdoor activities. Take the Cairngorm Funicular Railway (01479 861261) up 3,500ft to get a true sense of its scale. It's also home to the wonderful Cairngorm Reindeer Centre (01479 861228), where under the supervision of trained staff, you can feed, stroke and walk amongst these friendly animals. Situated in the centre of the Cairngorm National Park, visitors follow the herder up to the mountain enclosure, where beautiful mountain views can also be enjoyed. Aviemore is the outdoor capital of Scotland, with everything from skiing and gorge walking to loch kayaking and winter mountaineering on offer. The site is just 10 miles from the slopes with regular shuttle buses every hour. If it's your first time, the Carrbridge ski school (01479 861319) can show you the ropes away from the clamour of Aviemore. The Glenmore Lodge (01479 861256) is a serious outdoor activity centre with courses in mountaineering for all seasons and abilities. The sprawling Rothiemurchus Forest is also waiting to be explored. Drop by the first-rate activity centre (01479 812345) for archery, pony trekking, and quad bike safaris. Loch Garten Osprey Centre (01479 831476) at Nethybridge is a fascinating look at the iconic birds of prey. For the little ones, the Landmark Forest Adventure Park (0800 7313446) boasts all manner of amusements including 'The Lost Labyrinth', 'The Runaway Timber Train', and 'The Tarzan Trail'. Ace Adventure (0330 555 0313) are a specialist White water rafting and outdoor activities provider, based near Aviemore. Jim and the team cater for a wide range of activities; from high adrenaline thrills to relaxed wilderness and wildlife experiences.
Food & Drink
You can order a delicious cooked breakfast on site for just a fiver. Choose from either a full Scottish, full vegetarian or continental selection. Macdonald Aviemore Resort (0845 125 5455) boasts a wealth of dining options. Elsewhere, The Old Bridge Inn (01479 811137) serves a sophisticated gourmet menu. Ben Macduis Inn (01479 811754) does decent, reasonably-priced meals, especially fresh fish dishes. Also on the main drag, Mountain Café (01479 812 473) serves up a range of healthy lunches and excellent breakfasts. The Kiwi owners also make some truly decadent cakes. The Ski-ing Doo and Doo Below (01479 810392) is a cool, family-friendly hangout for snowboarders. With hearty burgers and other wholesome faves on the menu (plus lots of cool stuff on the walls), this is a veritable Aviemore institution. The award-winning Cairngorm Brewery (01479 812222) offers tasting tours for ale aficionados.
From £50 per pod per night.
2 night minimum stay.
Aviemore is just off the main A9 Perth to Inverness road. From the the main street, Craig Na Gower Avenue is on the left. Once there follow the sign to the Dental Practice. Once at the Dental Practice you will see the site sign and the pods at the end of the lane.
Aviemore Railway Station and the main bus stop are 10 minutes walk away. The nearest airport is Inverness (about 35 miles away)
where car hire is available or you can get a bus into Inverness centre and a
train down to Aviemore.