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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Talking, walking and talking in Aviemore

So while many parts of Scotland – and indeed my house in Glasgow – were drenched in rain on Saturday I spent the day in Aviemore walking in "mostly" sunshine during a weekend of chatting, eating, laughing and walking with great friends Little R and Big M.

Aviemore has recently charted as one of my favourite places in Scotland and Little R and Big M, who had memories of "that huge big concrete hotel thing and that oh-so-disappointing SantaLand from their childhoods", seemed to be as taken as I am with the vastly improved outdoors town.

We arrived at our house let – see here, it's fab! – on the Friday evening and managed to stay up until 2am talking and talking. Sometimes the pleasure of getting away from normal life and partners and children is the simple act of actually being able to finish conversations and see topics through to the end without being interrupted. Clearly we had a lot to talk to the end about!

Since the forecast was for heavy rain we were prepared on Saturday to pull on waterproofs for a brief outing into the wonderful outdoors around Aviemore. Amazingly, however, we awoke to sunshine and only a few threatening looking clouds. With a range of fitness levels (well, Big M ain't all that big on walking and active stuff!) I chose a flattish walk via the Speyside Way. The beauty of this section of the Way is that you can take a delightful steam train from Aviemore to Boat of Garten then alight and walk back along the Way to Aviemore.

The trail is well marked and undulating - and the views of the surrounding Cairngorms are truly wonderful. We had a bit of a head wind to walk into during the six miles but as Little R stated: "Walking into the wind means there's a bigger calorie burn so that means we can eat more cake (or whatever) at the end." Ideal!

Only twice did we feel a few spots of rain – and the walk did indeed give us a huge appetite for lunch. Check out the fab cafe Ski-ing Doo next time you're in Aviemore if you're looking for great service, good music and a range of freshly made dishes. The curly fries were a real treat!

The rest of the afternoon equalled a "nice lie down" for weary Big M and another three miles of walking and talking for Little R and I. Having heard a lot about Rotheimurchus estate, Little R was keen to go for a stroll - and I knew I could bag another castle (from a bit of a distance as it's in the middle of the loch!). We walked a complete circuit of the gorgeous Loch an Eilein following an easy-going trail through pine trees. There's a map available that details a host of walks and cycles on this stunning estate. Or why not simply get a download from the fab website Walking Highlands? See here

By now the rain had decided to move in on Aviemore and so Little R and I headed back to the holiday let. We'd thought about going out for our dinner but ended up drinking sparkling wine, ordering a takeaway and, you guessed, it talking a lot!

By Sunday Aviemore had joined the rest of the country under one big rain cloud. But that just made us feel all the more smug having already been treated to a whole day of perfect walking weather the day before. Sometimes luck is on the side of walkers in Scotland - and I even noticed a few freckles that had been brought out on my face by the spring sunshine!

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