On the beach at Loch Morlich
Bee's snow bunting
Snow in May
Off we go!
Call us crazy!
Enjoying a chat
Warming up by the fire! With ice cream..
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
11 Ellersly Road
Tel: 0131 347 1067
Ravenscraig Guest House
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
Tel: 01479 861220
Highland Wildlife Park
Tel: 01540 651270
RSPB Loch Garten
Tel: 01479 861261