Walkabout Scotland
Heart of the Highlands

Heart of the Highlands

The Cairngorm mountains and surrounding area have recently been designated as Scotland's second National Park. The scenery throughout this area is characterised by broad, gentle high mountain plateaus cut by deep glens and corries, with lower slopes of ancient woodland and lochs lying deep in the mountains. We'll be based for the week in the area of Newtonmore, lying at the head of the Spey valley and geographically more or less at the centre of Scotland.
From here we have access to some of the best Scottish mountains - the magnificent Cairngorm plateau to the east, the beauty of Loch Laggan and the Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve to the west and the wilderness of the Monadhliath just a stone's throw away.
There will be opportunity within this trip to see some of the broad range of flora and fauna for which this area is renowned. These include crested tits and the protected capercaillie in the lower wooded areas, eagles, sea eagles, and osprey, with ptarmigan and snow bunting, together with a wide range of sub-arctic plants on the Cairngorm plateau itself.
In addition to some fine mountain scenery, this area also provided the scenic setting for the BBC series 'Monarch of the Glen'; our week would not be complete without an exploration of some of the country in and around the famous 'Glen Bogle' - the fictional estate filmed around Loch Laggan and the Strathspey area.
This holiday includes 6 days of fully guided walking and 6 nights full board accommodation in the Newtonmore area. Departure will be from Edinburgh at 8.30 am on the first Sunday of the holiday, returning around 1pm the following Saturday
We will be walking for around 6-8 hours on each day, except one day midweek when we generally have an easier day of shorter walks and perhaps some sightseeing. There are a large number of walks we can do in this area so our itinerary is fairly flexible - the programme given below gives you an idea of what you can expect from the week.

Detailed Itinerary Day 1 (Sunday): Depart Edinburgh for Ben Vrackie - We depart from Edinburgh city centre at 9.00am and on our way north will stop to take in the peak of Ben Vrackie just outside Pitlochry - a small picturesque town that has been attracting visitors since the days of Queen Victoria's excursions to the Highlands. Ben Vrackie is a beautiful little mountain, with a good path all the way and tremendous views from the top - but there is always the lure of the Moulin Inn nestled back at the foot of the hill!. After our day's walking we continue northwards to our hotel and base for the week where dinner awaits.
600m/1970ft, 5m/8km, good path, 4-5 hrs

Day 2 (Monday): Cairngorm Mountain Wander - Today we introduce you to the delights of the Cairngorms with a thoroughly enjoyable walk of hugely varied character into the foothills of the Cairngorm mountains. We head up through the beautiful Caledonian Forest above Loch Morlich and then into the Larig Ghru - a famous pass cutting right through the heart of the Cairngorms.
Taking in a small summit along the way we then traverse the lower fringes of the mountains before a gradual easy descent back down to the shores of Loch Morlich.
470m/1540ft, 10m16km,  mostly good paths, 6-7hrs

Day 3 (Tuesday): Hills of Glen Feshie - These mountains lie immediately east of our accommodation in Newtonmore and form a stunning viewpoint on the western edge of the Cairngorms. We start our approach from Auchleen in Glen Feshie - surely a contender for one of Scotland's most attractive Glens. Ospreys have recently taken up residence by the river and the higher reaches of the glen are popular spots to see red deer and eagles. Excellent paths take us up 730 metres (2400ft) to Carn Ban Mor, where extensive views open out over the Moine Mor (Great Moss) towards some of Scotland’s highest mountains - Braeriach, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Cairn Toul and, further away, Ben MacDui -all over 4000ft! We then swing north along a broad ridge to the summit of Sgor Gaoith - "Peak of the Wind" - perched high above Loch Einich 2000 ft below. This is an incredible vantage point and there will be plenty of time to soak up the wide vistas before descending back down into the glen.
780m/2560ft, 10m/16km, mountain path, 7 hrs

Day 4 (Wednesday): Easy Walking Day - Today we'll take things at an easier pace with the chance for a bit of a rest if needed or a lower level excursion - we may visit the Falls of Pattack at Loch Laggan or explore some of the forest trails around Loch Morlich. If you would like a complete break from walking then there are plenty of other activities on offer in and around Newtonmore - cycling, water sports, horse riding or perhaps we may enjoy a bit of sightseeing along Scotland's whisky trail! On the other hand, if everyone is feeling fit, we might indulge in some blatant Munro-bagging!

Day 5: (Thursday): Monarch of the Glen Country - Loch Laggan and Creag Meagiadh - A few years ago, the area of Loch Laggan formed the setting for the fictional BBC series 'Monarch of the Glen'. From the shores of Loch Laggan we'll catch a glimpse of the estate itself before heading up into the hills. Our route takes us through National Nature Reserve, where recently planted woodland now has a firm hold, up to Lochan a Choire, which lies encircled in Corrie Ardair by the great cliffs of Creag Meagaidh. This is a beautiful, eerie place made all the more dramatic by the steepness of Creag Meagaidh's eastern buttresses mirrored in the lochan. If we are feeling energetic, there may be the option of continuing all the way to the summit of Creag Meagaidh itself (3,700ft summit) or we may just idly descend back down to Loch Laggan.
400m/1200ft, 6m10km, good path, 6 hrs

Day 6 (Friday): Cairngorms and Ben Macdui - A suitable finale to the week is Ben Macdui - right in the heart of the Cairngorms and Scotland's second highest mountain at 4290ft. The Cairngorm plateau is a large granite massif at a height of around 4000ft, cut by deep glens and steep corries and on its northern edge lies one of Scotland's key skiing areas. The central cairngorms area is particularly beautiful and while not far in distance from the ski centre feels very remote. Here on these high and rocky tops is the ideal place to spot ptarmigan. Unlike their cousins the red grouse, these birds are unafraid, seemingly curious when humans are present and are unlikely to make a hasty retreat.
The plateau offers generally easy walking in summer weather (but can be extremely wild in winter!) and we have a choice of routes for the day, all on good paths. Although high, the route up and onto the plateau is not overly strenuous as we are aided by the ski access road which reaches all the way to 2400 ft before starting! The hardest work done we then take the return trek out to Ben MacDui at an easy pace, marvelling at the views into some of the corries fringing the plateau.
600m/2000ft, 11m/17km, good path, 7-8 hrs
Day 7: (Saturday): Return to Edinburgh - After breakfast you will travel back to Edinburgh, arriving back to the city at around 1 pm.

Accommodation and Meals
We base ourselves for the week in large family run guest house/small hotel accommodation in the Newtonmore area, with a mixture of rooms available from singles, doubles, twin (or triple). All meals are freshly cooked and over the years our guests to this area have enjoyed a comfortable stay and a warm and hospitable welcome. Vegetarians will always be catered for and other specific dietary requirements can normally be catered for if we know in advance. Packed lunches are not included.

Grading of Walks
The walking throughout this tour we class as “moderate” – suitable for people of reasonable fitness who enjoy walking or the outdoors but who needn’t necessarily have any previous hiking experience. Walks each day are between 5-7 hours, with some lower level walks with little ascent and more challenging days involving some mountain ascent (see above). You will be on pathed terrain throughout the week, but this will vary to being quite rugged or sometimes boggy. If you have any doubts about your suitability for the trip please just ask! Please read our grading guide here.

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WS Adventures t/a Walkabout Scotland

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Ph: 0131 243 2664