If you like trees – seriously like trees – then Rothiemurchus campsite is the type of spot you might go to and never want to come back from. It’s one of the best places in Scotland to enjoy swathes of indigenous Caledonian woodland, with a flurry of forests and wood-shrouded lochs. There is a real sense of being somewhere genuinely unspoilt and pristine here.
The award-winning campsite is set within the boundaries of the Rothiemurchus Estate, which itself lies right on the edge of the remarkable Cairngorm Mountain massif, the vast mountain plateau that was recently designated the UK’s largest national park.
You can choose from the main pitches, where you will see other tents and be close to the amenities, or you can head across one of the burns that rumble through the camp. It is a sublime experience waking up on a bed of soft needles on a summer morning to the sound of rushing water with the smell of pine spiking the crisp air.
The Grant family has held the stewardship of the estate for over 400 years to the present day and its members have proved enlightened landowners, opening up the land for walkers, cyclists and tree lovers. Scotland’s lingering feudal land ownership attracts its share of controversy, but Rothiemurchus is the type of inclusive estate that the Land Reform Act of 2003 was designed to encourage.
You can hire bikes from nearby and meander around the myriad paths, with an easy circular route taking in the twin lochs of Morlich and Loch an Eilein. The latter is one of the prettiest in the country with a ruined castle sitting in the middle of the water and beaches fringing its edges. There are some more serious routes up past the outdoor activity centre at Glenmore that stretch into the mountains on old drovers’ trails opening up remote lochs and isolated bothies.
If that’s all a bit too adventurous, just climb aboard the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, the funky funicular railroad that eases up the mountainside revealing stupendous views with minimal effort. Be aware, though, that funicular users cannot walk on up to the summit.
Rothiemurchus is the sort of site that ticks so many different boxes. Forest camping at its finest, it works for those looking to get away from it all, those wanting to explore this enchanting place by bike or those who fancy a walk off into the challenging Cairngorm Mountains. And did we mention all the beautiful trees?
Several woodland and riverside pitches plus 1 on an island. 17 hardstandings for the caravans in a separate area. There’s a keycard-operated amenity block with hot showers, toilets, dishwashing area and laundry.
Tents, tourers, caravans – yes. Dogs – no (except in caravans).
The wonderful Cairngorm Reindeer Centre (01479 861228) is a short drive away, 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. Archery, hiking, canoeing and more at the Rothiemurchus Centre (01479 812345). Near Aviemore, the Macdonald Highland Resort has swimming pools and restaurants. Rothiemurchus Forest is yours to explore and enjoy. Glenmore Lodge (01479 861256) is a serious outdoor activity centre with a particular emphasis on climbing and mountaineering, being handy for the Cairngorms and some of Britain’s finest ice-climbing, as well as plenty of summer routes. Novices can either seek advice from the centre or enrol on one of its frequently run courses. 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 & DrinkThe Old Bridge Inn (01479 811137) is only 2 miles away on the road to Aviemore. This atmospheric old inn, with a fine log fire, specialises in local dishes such as peppered leg of venison, with plenty of whiskies and real ales on hand to wash it down. Mains are £12–16, though, so eating’s not cheap.
Opening TimesAll year (except November).
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