Climbing hills, riding bikes, sledging and skiing – just a few of the fun activities on offer in Aviemore that will get the kids out and about whatever the season.
We spent a weekend at the town’s youth hostel in December, staying in a private family room with use of the shared kitchen and living room facilities.
The children love the hostelling experience. They enjoy the space, the freedom and even the responsibility – our older two become so much more helpful than they are at home when we’re at a hostel!
Despite the chilly weather, we managed to get out and about in the area, which has excellent off-road trails perfect for walking, cycling, running and skiing in the winter. There wasn’t any snow at low levels this time so we took a trek up Craigellachie, the 453m hill right behind Aviemore Hostel.
With a baby buggy in tow and one tiring five-year-old, Meg headed back after the ‘easier’ section of the trail (we’d actually gone beyond easy to the point where we were lifting the buggy along stretches of the path but there are sections lower down that are fine).
Clara, who is 7, and I carried on to the summit, which was a real effort for her little legs and she did a really good job clambering up the steep path through rocks and around trees – as well as avoiding mountain bikers!
She loved the views from the top, which overlook Glenmore and the Cairngorm mountains, and it was lovely to see her enthusiasm for hill walking.
In the afternoon the children enjoyed some well-earned play time in the living room at the hostel, which had a few boxes of toys and games for them to get stuck into, and allowed us to relax a little bit.
The bedrooms at the hostel had clearly been modernised since I last stayed here some 15 years ago on a mountaineering trip. The wooden beds are now comfortable and quiet – unlike back then – and the rooms are warm.
After getting the kids to clear the beds and help empty our room, we checked out and headed for the hills again. It was a frosty morning so there wasn’t too much enthusiasm to get going but with some persuasion we got them on their bikes while Meg (with the buggy) and I ran along beside, and often behind once they got going!
In the end we enjoyed a good circuit round the trails at Rothiemurchus, visiting Loch an Eilein and the Cairngorm Club Bridge on the way.
Cold fingers and toes were soon defrosted with a hot chocolate at the café before heading home from a fine weekend hostelling in the Highlands.
- John and his family were guests at Aviemore Youth Hostel for an article for the 2019 Hostelling Scotland members’ handbook.