Not long ago I had the pleasure of promoting the start of #ScotSpirit campaign with one of my photos. In exchange, we received a month ASVA pass from
The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions which enabled us free entrance to over 400 hundred tourist attractions across Scotland.
That was a perfect excuse to go wild and plan a nice weekend getaway for me and my family to Aviemore. Why there? I never visited the place before and we heard a lot about it. Of course, I also wanted to reach the Cairngorm Mountain by funicular train!
We started our trip on a Saturday afternoon just after I finished my work (unfortunately, we are among those unfortunate people that need to work on a Saturday).
Our first day included a short walk around Perth, Exploring Blair Castle and finally arriving at Aviemore and sleepover at SYHA Hostel. On the second day was all about funicular train straight after getting up, breakfast on the top and exploring RZSS Highland Wildlife Park afterwards.
From Livingston where we stay, it takes around 2.5h to reach Aviemore by car. To break up the journey we decided to stop at Perth and it took us around an hour to get there. To stretch our legs we went for a quick walk along the River Tay.
Starting from Fergusson Gallery crossing the river by train viaduct with a footpath through to Moncrieffe Island. There we stumbled upon the Perth sculpture trail. One mile trail for walkers and bikers embellished by 24 sculptures by different artists.
We enjoyed Heather Collection and Millais’ Viewpoint in particular which is a huge half ‘frame’ which frames view Kinnoull Kirkyard.
When we went back to the car we went towards Blair Atholl; home of snow-white Blair Castle owned by the Dukes and Earls of Atholl.
The beautiful castle, although 700 years old, is still in perfect condition. We were fascinated by the splendour of great halls bedrooms, furniture, and paintings.
There was a strange feeling about this place just like it would stop in time for us to tell a story about its past.
After exploring the all that the castle had to offer (and buying souvenirs) We went off to see the castle gardens. It did not last long because our 4-year-old daughter discovered the adventure playground and obviously there were no getting past it.
After we examined the playground from top to toe we were ready to move on. We went to see the red deers and we encountered the proud peacock on the wrong side of the fence trying unsuccessfully to get back home.
We saw some highland cows along the way and suddenly a Red Squirrel crossed our path. It was amazing since we were never lucky enough to see one in Scotland yet!
The gardens are massive and have some amazing views over the Cairngorms.
We stayed well over the castle closing time so we had to run to the car and headed towards our final destination - Aviemore.
We finally booked in SYHA Aviemore. Basically, it was the first time we stayed at a youth hostel and we really enjoyed it. We entered our room and discovered that our room included a bunk bed which was an amazing surprise for our daughter. You can guess who wanted sleep on the top.
The building we stayed in included a massive kitchen where you could cook your own meals, canteen, reception and play room with sofas and tv’s fireplace and pool table.
CAIRNGORM MOUNTAIN RAILWAY
After getting up and having a coffee we went straight to Cairngorm Mountain for breakfast. To get to the station we had to follow a narrow windy picturesque road uphill. To get to the top we took the UK only funicular railway which goes 3500 feet up the mountain.
At this time in the morning, we were the only ones without the skiing gear and looked a bit odd in our casual clothes.
Even people at the Ptarmigan Restaurant were a bit surprised and confused when we came to order breakfast and they opened the restaurant only seconds ago. The downside was that we did not really have any decent views from the top as it was really cloudy at the time.
HIGHLANDS WILDLIFE PARK
After breakfast, we went down and straight to RZSS Highlands Wildlife Park where we stayed for the rest of the day. It is an enormous Safari Park and a Zoo that is home to amazing Scottish Wildlife like Scottish wildcats, red deers, and red squirrels.
The best bit was obviously the safari drive through. We were amazed by the Eurasian elks (they are so massive), we also met one too curious Przewalski's Wild Horse that wanted to check out our car from the inside as they do.
The safari includes a variety of different amazing animals like the Polar Bear, Snow Leopard, Red Pandas and Japanese Macaque.
It has proven to be amazing two days that we will remember for a long time. If we were to recommend one of the places that we saw in the course of the two days that will have to be the RZSS Highlands Wildlife Park.
It is amazing how many animals they house. It is a great place to visit with family that will not disappoint anybody.