Cairngorm Adventures + Music to Our Ears!

A huge hello to all our regular guests and browsers, and, of course, to anyone coming across my ritual ramblings for the first time!!  The BoGBloG is a genuine attempt to update anyone on interesting developments and activities around Boat of Garten, Strathspey and the wider Cairngorms National Park.  It is also a great opportunity to let you know about the improvements we continually try to make to Glencoldon Cottage, both for your comfort and wellbeing, and to work towards an ever more sustainable and enjoyable self-catering experience for our guests.

Out Cycling in Cairngorms (photo courtesy Ed Smith / Cairngorm NPA)

Cairngorm Mountain Biking Trails

Let’s start with the exciting biking stuff first!  We’ve blogged many times about the cottage being a haven for cyclists, as it is situated on the Speyside Way, and is at the heart of an incredible range of cycling routes for all ages and levels of ability.  We also have a dedicated webpage with much more information about this cycling haven!  So, surely not much more we could say about this….

Indeed, when the amazing energy of the Boat of Garten community managed to raise funds and build a state-of-the-art Pump Track in the village in 2022, we didn’t think there was much more we could promote on the fantastic cycling available in the area.  But, how wrong we were…..  Cairngorm Mountain, more famous for its winter sports and climbing opportunities, has just recently opened a whole range of trails in a Mountain Bike Park; apparently voted as one of the 6 top bike trail developments for 2024 by Mountain Bike Rider Magazine!  With green, blue or red trails, all cycling abilities are catered for – the area just gets more and more exciting for the increasing number of cyclists! *

Bathing Pool – River Spey

Wild Swimming Hot Spots

More and more people have been taking up wild swimming in the sea, lochs and rivers too.  As well as being great exercise, of course, there seems to be many other clear health and wellbeing benefits associated with swimming in wild natural places.  We certainly spent the summer holidays of our youth splashing about in Loch Garten, the River Spey and Loch Vaa!  These are great spots within a couple of miles of the cottage. 

I’ve actually managed to take a decent photo (an event as rare as a Capercaillie sighting!!) of the best local spot on the Spey, with a wee map (as is a local secret, and not on maps!).  It even has a sandy beach and is actually called “Bathing Pool” on old maps of the area.  Although the pool is very tranquil usually, the Spey is apparently the fastest flowing river in Scotland (although I guess that depends where you are?!?), so please be careful if there has been a few days of rain and water levels are higher – the current can be strong midstream!

A wee bit further from the cottage, Loch Morlich has a famous sandy beach and watersports centre, and the River Feshie is very dramatic in places, with gullies, waterfalls, etc.  Also, please just remember in certain places you could still be swimming in recently melted snow right into May!!  Refreshing, to put it mildly!?!

Map to Bathing Pool from Cottage

The Aviemore Adventurer

Since the Aviemore Community Hospital opened in 2022, local public transport options, which were always pretty decent compared with many places in the Highlands, have definitely improved.  The local bus services are more frequent and reliable (pretty much hourly into Aviemore or Grantown-on-Spey – Traveline Scotland).  When you’re on holiday, you’re maybe due a break from driving too – we’re sure it is positive for everyone’s wellbeing and gives us all a chance to enjoy the wonderful scenery in the area en route. 

This is perhaps even more the case if you’re heading up towards Loch Morlich, Glenmore and Cairngorm Mountain – there is now a specially adapted Aviemore Adventurer bus running up to every hour from Aviemore.  You can sling your bike, snowboard or skis on board and take in the spectacular scenery on your way to your day’s adventure.  And, of course, this also leaves you able to have that wee apres-adventure dram!  No driving duties!

Local Live Music

To go with that wee dram, why not check out some of the local live music.  It is a staple of the Highlands, with soloists and bands performing all year round.  In the village, the Boat Hall, a community venue, organises a brilliant calendar of events: music, as well as interesting / inspiring ‘Boat Talks’, comedy nights, and Ceilidhs. 

In Aviemore, The Cairngorm Hotel offers almost daily live music, while The Old Bridge Inn hosts frequent folk sessions and fabulous live events.  Both have friendly bar atmospheres, with locals “shooting the breeze” with visitors and adventurers, as well as restaurants when hunger sets in.

A wee bit further away, traditional Scottish music, sometimes just impromptu gatherings of local musicians, also feature regularly at the Suie Bar in Kincraig; and we were recently fortunate enough to stumble across a fantastic fiddlers “jam” at the Ben Mhor Hotel on the Grantown-on-Spey High Street – a master class being given by one of Scotland’s foremost fiddlers, Paul Anderson!  Go to VisitCairngorms to see What’s On each evening.


We don’t really like to promote places and activities that we have never experienced for ourselves – I guess, part of the personal touch we like to try to provide!  So, having recently signed up some visiting friends for TreeZone – a morning out on zip wires, balance beams, hanging platforms, tight-ropes, scramble nets and white knuckle bridges, we thought we should flag up what is an amazing experience in the canopy of some ancient Caledonian Forest! 

Personally, I experienced much unnecessary ribbing for not participating myself, excusing myself due a vertigo condition I now have (for a good reason…. that nobody seemed prepared to listen to!?!?).  But, those I signed up to it will admit they had a fantastic experience!  Bear in mind that, although the advert has lots of smiling adults and children on it, one or two of the elements can maybe be described as challenging rather than just fun!!  Especially enjoyed watching that from terra firma!

Biodiversity Blether – Our Wild Nature Natter!

Obviously, in the Osprey Village, at this time of year, we have to firstly update on the local Osprey action!  Unfortunately, it looks like the long-established nest at Loch Garten may not give rise to any chicks this year!  It seems like a complicated story, but I believe Asha, the female from previous years, did successfully lay eggs with help from last year’s mate. 

However, no domestic bliss followed – various male interlopers then tried to take over the nest and court Asha, one of which ejected the eggs (jeez, no nonsense in nature when it comes to ensuring it’s your genes going forward to the next generation!!).  At the time of writing, there’s still plenty of “action” to see for anyone going to the Loch Garten RSPB centre, but there is unlikely to be any chick action this year unfortunately. 

In the past, this would have been a huge disappointment, but there are now so many pairs of birds all over the UK, all derived from the conservation efforts here at Loch Garten in the 1960s-80s, that it will make no difference to the overall population, which continues to grow (we’ve blogged about this amazing conservation history in previous posts if you’re interested + links to BBC podcasts!).

In the wild garden, the growing diversity and abundance is even more astonishing this spring / summer as nature continues to, exponentially it feels, take over where it had never been allowed to thrive in the past.  Everywhere!  But, just as an example, I now know where several families of field mice have set up home, not just because I’ve now got an eye for seeing their rapid comings and goings, but because there are now so many of them – you just can’t miss them! 

And finally, to our deer friends…… we still keep on wondering about our young deer friend(s) that frequent, or perhaps even live in, the garden!  Are they the same ones that come in year after year?  This one, which stopped to pose for a photo on the grass area, now has wee antlers, showing he’s perhaps entering his 3rd year.  Has he been using the garden for 3 years?  Is he the one in previous photos?  He certainly seems pretty fearless for a deer, so is he used to us?  Sometimes, our guests are even greeted by one when they first arrive!  There are only ever very young ones seen – is the garden some sort of deer “nursery”?  Whatever, they are now truly our longstanding deer friends!

(*We know the tracks look like a significant scar on the landscape, because they are, but, given these have been developed in an area already degraded by ski tows and decades of heavy use, they are perhaps in the best, and probably only, place acceptable on environmental grounds!).

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