Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers - Hooked on Freedom

Aviemore

On the beach at Loch Morlich
On the beach at Loch Morlich
Picnic time
Picnic time
Bee's snow bunting
Bee's snow bunting
  Snow in May
Snow in May
Off we go!
Off we go!
Call us crazy!
Call us crazy!
  Tiger tiger
Tiger tiger
Enjoying a chat
Enjoying a chat
Warming up by the fire! With ice cream..
Warming up by the fire! With ice cream..

Disabled Ramblers Tackle the Trails.

Disappointed at the cancellation of the annual Aviemore Walking Festival a group of intrepid disabled ramblers from Fife decided to go it alone and travelled to Aviemore to sample the excellent network of accessible trails in the area. The eleven holidaymakers, who are all members of Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers, spent a week in the area staying in a mixture of accessible self-catering and B & B accommodation. Seven of the ramblers use mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs to access the outdoors, whilst the other 4 are volunteers and carers. Thanks to the excellent scooter hire scheme run by the Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport Company several of the rambles on this holiday were made possible.


Loch Morlich all-abilities trail
On the beach at Loch Morlich

The first day's rambling was around the all-abilities Loch Morlich and Allt Mhor trails. To get there take the ski road from Aviemore towards the Cairngorms and after six miles you will reach Glenmore Forest Park. The Watersports car park is situated on the right at the far end of Loch Morlich. The Watersports Centre is the large wooden building on the beach beside the loch. There is a disabled toilet in the forest near the start of the walk and another on opposite side of the road at Glenmore Visitor Centre alongside the cafeteria and shop. From the Watersports car park, follow the brown waymarkers parallel with the loch edge through some very old Scots pine trees. The route is circular and is virtually level all the way. This is an easy all abilities trail, partly alongside Loch Morlich and passing through old Scots pines. There are stunning views over the loch to the Cairngorms, which were snow-capped at the time of the visit. Towards the end of Loch Morlich the path turns left away from the loch and follows the banks of the Abhainn Ruigh-eunachan through pine, birch, and alder trees. Nature abounds with dipper, wagtail, heron and sandpiper to be spotted along the riverbank. The path then bears to the left before reaching the pavement beside the road. Follow this to the entrance to the Glenmore Campsite on the left or pop in to the Glenmore Visitor Centre on the right for coffee and a browse in the shop. Turn into the camp site and continue through it to return to the start.


Allt Mhor all-abilities trail
Picnic time

This path starts at the Allt Mhor car park, which is on the left hand side of the road past the Glenmore Visitor Centre as you approach from Aviemore. It has an aggregate surface and interpretation panels telling the story of the native pinewood habitat. With stunning views up to the Cairngorm northern corries the path runs through pine trees with an abundance of heather, blaeberries and juniper along the way. The route returns via the river bank, giving a feeling of rugged terrain. There is a resting place and some picnic benches by the riverside. As the surface is good on the forest tracks the group did an extended version of the Allt Mhor trail having crossed the road from the Loch Morlich path, making it somewhere between three and four miles in total before returning to the Glenmore Visitor Centre for the by now ritual coffee and cake!


Cairngorm Funicular
Bee's snow bunting

The following day the adventurous bunch took a trip on the funicular railway to the top of Cairngorm. There are numerous disabled parking spaces at the top end of the car park plus an accessible toilet. There are manual wheelchairs available for use if required just after the ticket office. There is level access to the bottom carriage and it is possible to travel up to Ptarmigan Station seated in a wheelchair. The journey takes around 8 minutes. Once inside there is access to all areas via lifts - an exhibition area, a shop, an outdoor viewing platform and a restaurant. There is a steepish ramp out onto the viewing platform. From the viewpoint a ptarmigan and a snow bunting were spotted, much to the delight of the party. The temperature and the biting wind meant that no one lingered long - but long enough for Bee to capture a stunning photograph of a snow bunting.


Glen More Visitor Centre to the Green Loch
Snow in May

The second day's rambling started with flurries of snow outside Glenmore Visitor Centre but this did not deter the hardy bunch from setting out for the Green Loch in fairly cold conditions.

Off we go!

The route runs on tarmac past Glenmore Lodge then narrows to become a path, which runs all the way to the loch. The path surface has been greatly improved in recent years making it a more comfortable run. There are a few gradients along the way.

Call us crazy

The loch is so called because the water is green. Legend has it that this is because the pixies used to wash their clothes in it. Following a stop for a picnic lunch it was a long 2 miles back after one of the scooters broke down at the loch and Helena had to be pushed all the way to the start but everyone deemed it a wonderful ramble!


The Highland Wildlife Park
Tiger, tiger.

A trip to the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig was next on the agenda to see Mercedes the polar bear and the tiger cubs, which had celebrated their first birthday earlier in the week.
Our resident adrenalin junkies, Maria and Leslie then went gliding at Glenfeshie, where Leslie did his first ever loop-the -loop! Well done Leslie - he'd celebrated his 70th birthday last November! A BBQ in the evening at the Capability Scotland chalet at Dalraddy Holiday Park, where 5 of the participants were staying, finished off another perfect day.


Inverdruie to Loch an Eilean
Enjoying a chat

Loch an Eilean was the group's third ramble destination. The start is at the car park opposite the Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre at Inverdruie and the route runs out via Black Park to Loch an Eilean.


Warming up by the fire..

A freezing cold wind was blowing down the loch but after a quick picnic lunch everyone managed to warm up by the fire in the visitor centre before the arduous route back via Lochan Mor - the Lily Loch... Some of the path surface had been washed away by the hard winter snows, making it quite an adventure! The inevitable coffee and cake at the Rothuiemurchus Visitor Centre finished off the day and all was soon forgotten.


RSPB Loch Garten

A leisurely final afternoon was spent observing the ospreys at the RSPB Loch Garten site. Ospreys have been returning to Loch Garten for a number of years. When they first returned to Scotland to breed, this ancient Caledonian pinewood was where they made their home and they have returned every year since.
There are two car parks. The Osprey Centre car park has a rolled, even surface and there are three disabled parking bays. By prior arrangement cars may be driven to the centre entrance. Loch Mallachie car park has a natural, even surface.
There are toilet facilities behind the ticket desk at the start, one of which is unisex and wheelchair accessible. It is 25 m from the Osprey Centre car park and 325 m from the Osprey Centre. The visitor centre is 350 m from the car park along a wide, rolled stone path with a short section of 1:15 gradient. The access ramp into the centre is 1:20. Once inside, the Osprey Centre is on one level and has no steps or ramps. There are telescopes at varying heights plus interpretative materials for wheelchair users. There are also a number of different height viewing slots that provide excellent views of the nesting ospreys.
Live CCTV pictures of the nest are displayed on elevated TV screens and RSPB staff can describe what is happening. Telescopes and binoculars are also available for use. Seats are available. Information displays with some tactile elements are easily accessible. The shop is fully accessible to wheelchair users and staff can assist with purchases.
There is a wheelchair available for loan from the Osprey Centre. It is advisable to telephone to pre-book or ask at reception on arrival. Staff are on hand to help wheelchair users. Osprey nest microphones provide help for those with a hearing impairment. Staff assistance is also available to provide descriptions of the CCTV pictures.
There are also some excellent paths on the reserve, with red squirrels, dragonflies, woodpeckers and crested tits and more to be spotted. The Aviemore area offers a multitude of trails, many of which are ideal for wheelchair, power chair and scooter users. It is also well ahead of other areas in the provision of other facilities for people with disabilities and in particular a good range of accessible accommodation and excellent disabled toilets everywhere.



CONTACT DETAILS:

Dalraddy Chalet, Dalraddy Holiday Park, Alvie Estate, Aviemore (book via Capability Scotland )
Chalet providing accessible, self-catering accommodation for six people in Dalraddy Holiday Park two miles outside Aviemore on Alvie Estate.
For details contact:
Capability Scotland
11 Ellersly Road
Edinburgh
EH12 6HY
Tel: 0131 347 1067
E-mail: phil.brown@capability-scotland.org.uk

Ravenscraig Guest House
Grampian Road,
Aviemore, -
PH22 1RP
E-mail: www.aviemoreonline.com/
Tel: 01479 810 278

Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport Company
Scooter hire scheme in Aviemore and at Glen More Visitor Centre.
Tel: 01479 810004

Glenmore Visitor Centre
Glenmore By Aviemore Inverness-shire
PH22 1QU
Tel: 01479 861220
E-mail: www.forestry.gov.uk

Highland Wildlife Park
Kincraig
Kingussie
Tel: 01540 651270
E-mail: www.highlandwildlifepark.org

RSPB Loch Garten
01479 831476
E-mail: www.rspb.org.uk/

Cairngorm Funicular
Tel: 01479 861261
E-mail: www.cairngormmountain.co.uk/