Best walks in the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park teems with towering trees, shimmering lochs and busy wildlife. Take a hike through this vast, untamed area of Scotland with our list of the area's best walks

Loch Morlich in the Cairngorm National Park, Scotland

The Cairngorms is our largest national park – almost twice the size of the Lake District – and is home to five of the six highest mountains in Britain. 

Zip up your coat, strap on your walking boots and get ready to explore the  still lochs, rushing rivers and rugged landscape of the Cairngorms National Park.

1. Falls of Bruar, Perth and Kinross

Falls of Bruar
The Falls of Bruar lie just north of Blair Athol/Credit: Getty Images

Step carefully beneath golden larches, towering Scots pines and over magnificent mountain ash roots in pursuit of a roaring Cairngorms cascade. Map and route.

2. Glenmore Forest Park, Highland

Glenmore Forest Park
Walk alongside magnificent Loch Morlich and through the Cairngorms National Park/Credit: Getty Images

There are few better places to start your journey into the Cairngorms than via Ryvoan Pass. Lightly wooded slopes slalom between pine trees, rocky hills and untamed moor. Keep an eye out for the national park’s most elusive creatures. Map and route.

3. Loch Garten, Highland

Loch Garten
Loch Garten is hidden within Abernathy Forest ©Getty

Loch Garten’s ancient trees, tottering wood-ant nests, soaring ospreys and grazing deer make it one of Scotland’s most beautiful nature reserves. Map and route.

4Pattack Falls and Druim an Aird, Highland

Pattack Falls
The rushing gorge waterfalls of Pattack Falls/Credit: Getty Images

Take a relaxing amble through varied landscapes, passing the Pattack gorge waterfalls before exploring the ruins of the deserted village of Druim an Aird. Map and route.

5. Loch Morlich, Highland

Loch Morlich
Snowy peaks climb above wild forest beside Lake Morlich/Credit: Getty Images

There are few lochs in Scotland that have a more picture-perfect surrounding than Loch Morlich. The foreground comprises forests fringed by beaches and backdropped by snow-clad peaks. Circling the loch is a very popular walk among tourists and locals alike.  Map and route.

6. Loch an Eilein, Highland

Loch an Eilein
Ruins of a castle sit upon a small island in Loch an Eilein/Credit: Getty Image

Loch an Eilein lies still, reflecting the magnificent pines of Rothiemurchus Forest in the heart of the Cairngorms. Castle ruins inhabit a small island, making for a truly unique walk.  Map and route.

7. Ryvoan pass, Aberdeenshire

Ryvoan Pass
Untamed, autumnal moorland of the Ryvoan pass/Credit: Getty Images

Ancient Caledonian pines form a beautiful walkway leading to the green lochan – An Lochan Uaine. A gentle climb leads up the Ryvoan pass, with breathtaking views of Loch Morlich. Map and route.

8Carrbridge and Docharn circuit, Highland

Autumn sweeps through Carrbridge with hues of red, orange and brown/Credit: Getty Images

Follow a trail of pleasant pinewoods around Carrbridge, stopping to savour this magnificent rushing river and the stone that bridges over it.  Walk and route.

9. River Dee, Braemar, Aberdeenshire

Ballater Braemar Bridge
Ballater Braemar Bridge climbs over the River Dee/Credit: Getty Images

A circular walk starting from Braemar takes in the confluence of the two main rivers, the Dee and the Clunie. It then climbs gently through birch woods to return to the centre of the village.  Walk and route.

10. Loch Muick, Aberdeenshire

Loch Muick
Stunning reflection of Loch Muick/Credit: Getty Images

An unusually level walk in the Cairngorms, around Loch Muick on the Balmoral Estate. The walk provides stunning views of the Scottish scenery. You can also see Glas-allt Shiel house, built by Queen Victoria.  Map and route.


Main image ©Getty