Excitement abounds when looking out from the Highland town of Aviemore to the mighty Cairngorms mountains, beloved by snowboarders, skiers and winter climbers.
It’s the visceral reaction to the size and rawness of these granite giants that makes this landscape such a compelling place for all nature lovers.
Nowhere else in Britain has the same scale of tundra-like plateaux and sub-Arctic habitats. Snow covers the numerous 1,000m summits for more than 100 days a year, and icy tentacles stretch across the lochs that bejewel the foot of the range. It’s here, cloaked in Scots pine trees, that one of the finest remnants of the ancient Caledonian Forest resides, home to golden eagles, red squirrels, pine martens, badgers and deer.
Bustling Aviemore, with its choice of hip or traditional bars, a good Italian restaurant and swish, hotel-run wooden cabins, is the ideal base for a wintry foray around the northern fringes of the park and its most beautiful lochs – not least Loch Morlich.
Loch Morlich walk
3.1 miles/5km | 1.5 hours | easy
Make your way up the ‘ski road’ from your Aviemore lodgings past Coylumbridge to see glistening Loch Morlich. In winter conditions this can freeze over, making the relatively flat 5.1km walk around its waters even more like a magical fairytale scene.
Follow red markers south from Beach Car Park through the woods, soon meeting a burn; walk beside this for 100m before crossing a bridge. Crisp snow underfoot transforms the forest to a winter wonderland.
2. Ice-age remains
At a junction, follow the red markers to the right. A glacier once sat here; enormous blocks calved off to form the depression that remains today.
3. Corries to Café
Join the Old Logging Trail back to the start. This is arguably the best part of the walk, with views up to the snow-plastered Northern Corries. Round off the trip with a warming hot chocolate in the Red Squirrel Café.