Cairngorms National Park: Loch Callater, Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr, Carn a’ Choire Bhaidheach and Lochnagar

After pottering round Aviemore and stocking up on supplies, we headed east towards Braemar. I can’t remember exactly how Loch Callater came onto our radar, but it didn’t take long for us to find a way to fit it into our itinerary. Of all the lochs I’ve seen in Scotland so far, this is a strong contender for being my favourite. We parked the car at Auchallater, fed coins into the machine, and changed into our hiking clothes. (As it turned out, it was a popular spot for wild swimming so no one bats an eye when they see people changing between car doors.)

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Highland Wildlife Park

When we mapped out our trip to the Cairngorms National Park, we knew we’d spend the bulk of our time there Munro-bagging. But there was another spot I was keen to visit while we were in the area: Highland Wildlife Park. And so, after four days of Munro-bagging (and with four more to come afterwards), it was time for a rest day – in the form of a pootle around Highland Wildlife Park.

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Cairngorms National Park: Bynack More

Bynack More is one of those Munros that’s a bit out on a limb, and as such it’s best done as an out-and-back from Glenmore Forest Park. We had breakfast on the beach (I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done that!) at Loch Morlich, and then took down the tent and tootled up the road to Allt Mor car park. We stuffed snacks, sunblock and waterproofs (best to be prepared for all eventualities) into our day rucksacks, and set off. After three days of hauling all our kit around, it was nice to have a day with a lighter load.

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Cairngorms National Park: Beinn Mheadhoin, Derry Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

With its craggy peaks (including enough Munros to keep the avid Munro-bagger busy for a very long time*) and arctic-alpine lakes, the Cairngorms National Park is the gift that keeps on giving. Our multi-day loop concluded with a string of peaks in the vicinity of Loch Avon: Beinn Mheadhoin, Derry Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm.

*Unless you’re the guy we bumped into up Beinn Mheadoin and Cairn Gorm who’d packed eighteen into a single weekend, that is.

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Two Beinns: Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a’ Chaorainn

While we slept – or perhaps I should say while we tried to sleep, for sleep evaded me for much of the night – the wind howled. When we woke, it was still – almost eerily so. Others camped around Corrour Bothy were, for the most part, yet to surface.

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Conquering the Cairngorms’ Angels and Demons: Braeriach, The Angel’s Peak, Cairn Toul and The Devil’s Point

When it comes to planning a trip to the Cairngorms National Park, the biggest challenge is its size.

There’s a whopping 4,500sq kilometres of it. To put that into perspective for you, Greater London (i.e. the city proper, and all the suburbs that sit within the M25) is 1,583sq kilometres. Luxembourg, at 2,586sq kilometres, could almost fit into the Cairngorms National Park twice.

There’s so much to see, and that makes it hard to choose which parts to see and which to save for a subsequent trip. After much deliberation, we opted to spend the first half of our trip in the area around Cairn Gorm itself, and the latter half around Braemar.

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Snapshots of the Cairngorms National Park

If you’d asked me a couple of months ago to name my favourite national park, I’d probably have been torn between Snowdonia, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. But now?

I’d say the Cairngorms National Park, sans doute.

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A Wet Weekend at Hadrian’s Wall, Part II: Along the Whin Sill

We couldn’t stay near Hadrian’s Wall and not walk at least some of the Hadrian’s Wall Path. We’d had a taster of it the previous day, with short walks near Housesteads Roman Fort and Black Carts Turret, but we fancied doing one more walk before driving home.

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A Wet Weekend at Hadrian’s Wall, Part I: Exploring Housesteads Roman Fort

We Brits, or so the stereotype goes, like talking about the weather. And that’s how this weekend trip to Hadrian’s Wall begins. When we left Edinburgh, it was raining: fat raindrops filling the windscreen, no matter how fast the wipers tried to clear them. On the bypass, it felt as though the tarmac was going to disappear beneath swimming pool-esque puddles, as the clouds continued to empty themselves. And when we hit Northumberland National Park, it was still pelting it down.

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Farewell Islands, Hello Highlands: Loch Ainort to Fort William, via Glenfinnan Viaduct

When we woke, it was blowing a gale. Packing the tent away proved somewhat challenging, as it felt as though at any moment the parts we hadn’t yet rolled up would take flight. On the plus side, the pesky midges had all been blown away.

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