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Walking the Cairngorms

Amble, stroll and hike your way around the UK’s largest National Park

The Highlands on foot

Renowned for its spectacular and staggeringly diverse landscapes, the Cairngorms National Park is a true walker’s paradise.

Walking boots at the ready – here are some of our favourite tried-and-tested routes for exploring what this incredible region has to offer.

Balmoral Castle and the Dee

This circular route begins by crossing the River Dee to the gateway into Balmoral Castle. Discover cairns and monuments on your route – including Prince Albert’s huge pyramidal memorial – as you take in the stunning grounds of this famous Royal favourite.

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Blair Castle and Glen Tilt

Follow in the footsteps of Robert the Bruce and Queen Victoria on your journey through what has been a natural highway since humans first arrived in the Cairngorms. Keep an eye out for signage during deer-stalking season (mid-August to October).

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Boat of Garten and the Spey

Amble along one of the great rivers of Scotland on this route that features part of the Speyside Way. If you rest at one of the benches you might be lucky enough to spot a kingfisher before continuing on through the regenerating Caledonian Forest.

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Crombie Water and Whisky Hills

Whisky was part of the Highlands’ economy long before the coming of licensed distilleries. This walk through a green valley and bare heather moor takes ramblers through former smugglers’ country.

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Loch an Eilein's castle and Ord Ban

Discover an island castle surrounded by ancient pines and backdropped by breathtaking mountains on this beautiful walk around Loch an Eilein. This route is rich in history – the castle was built by John Comryn II in the 13th century to guard against cattle stealing.

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Meall a' Bhuachaille

Known as the Hill of the Herdsman, Meall a’ Bhuachaille occupies a grand outlook to the bare Cairngorms across Glen More. Enjoy views down to Lochan Uaine on the way up before finishing your hike at the Glenmore Visitor Centre.

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Morrone Birkwood

With ancient birchwood on one side and the great River Dee on the other, this is a true walk of two halves. Follow the ‘Birkwood Circular’ signposts before continuing down towards the Dee where you’ll find slabs of bare rock, a fine viewpoint and a picnic place.

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Slopes of Ben Vrackie

The climb up the slopes of Ben Vrackie rewards walkers with fabulous views of Blair Castle an Pitlochry. Featuring high heathery hill slopes and wooded riverbank, allow five hours for this brilliantly varied walk.

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Speyside Way (Tominoul Spur): Ballindalloch Station to Glenlivet

This challenging route crossing the high flank of Ben Rinnes is one for the mountain lovers. Starting at Ballindalloch Station, this hike traverses the region’s wonderfully patchwork landscape over Carnacay and the Hill of Deskie, finishing up in Glenlivet.

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The Pass of Ryvoan and the Thieves' Road

The Pass of Ryvoan has all the characteristics of a classic Cairngorm through-route. Five miles in total, this walk takes in the end of the Thieves’ Road as well as Lochan Uaine – meaning ‘Green Loch’ – said to be so-coloured because of the Highland Fairies washing their green garments.

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