Rothiemurchus Estate. This excellent activity center is among the best in the Cairngorms. It offers a host of organized outdoor diversions, including guided pony rides, mountain biking, fishing, gorge swimming, and whitewater rafting. They also offer ranger-guided safaris to see the park's rare and endangered wildlife, including red squirrels and "hairy heilan coos" (Highland slang for Highland cattle—docile, yaklike creatures). The Rothiemurchus Centre is the best place to get oriented and book activities; it also has a handy restaurant and a well-stocked shop selling plenty of fresh produce from the estate. One of the most beautiful parts of the estate is a nature reserve called Loch an Eilein. There are great low-level paths around the tree-rimmed loch—perfect for bikes—or longer trails to Glen Einich. A converted cottage beside Loch an Eilean serves as a visitor center, art gallery, and craft store.
The place that
best sums up Speyside's piney ambience is probably a nature reserve called Rothiemurchus Centre, On B970, Inverdruie, Aviemore, PH22 1QH. 01479/812345. www.rothiemurchus.net. Free. Daily 9:30–5:30.