One of the fantastic things about staying at the MacDonald Aviemore Resort is that you’ll find the Craigellachie Nature Reserve on your doorstep. With four different signposted routes, you’ll find stunning views of the Cairngorms across Aviemore and several lochans. A perfect location for one of the best dog walks in Aviemore and you may even want to pack that picnic.
Distance: 3.25 miles
Time: 2 hours (can be reduced to avoid final ascent)
Start: MacDonald Aviemore Resort or Aviemore Youth Hostel
Difficulty: Medium (n.b last section is steep and rocky)
Nearest Postcode: PH22 1PR
Parking: Aviemore Youth Hostel (free)
Craigellachie Nature Reserve: Dog Walks in Aviemore
If you are staying at the MacDonald resort then you’ll need to head in the direction of the leisure and activity centre towards the back of the main hotel. You’ll spot both a children’s outdoor playground and fishing area on your left. Keeping these on your left, make your way past both and you’ll turn left alongside the main A9 road. Note that it’s possible to have your dog off lead from this point due to fencing and banks protecting both the fishing lake and road access. In less than a minutes walk, you’ll soon come to a small underpass under the A9 taking you to Craigellachie Nature Reserve main entrance (below).
If you aren’t staying at the resort, the nature reserve is easily accessible from the main street and a great extension to the Aviemore Orbital walk. If you park up at the Aviemore Youth Hostel, where you can find walk information inside, follow the path uphill. You’ll soon reach the underpass and start of the walk.
The path is well marked out with four different routes. You can opt for a short 30-minute walk to the longer 2-hour ascent where you may be able to see peregrine falcons.
Having had a 2-hour walk around Loch an Eilein earlier in the day, I opted to miss out the final ascent. That and as I hadn’t quite planned on doing a long walk, I still had flip flops on. So here is my first tip for this walk. Wear proper shoes! The path is a steady ascent upwards with lots of steps and rocks to navigate around. It wasn’t too difficult in flip flops but shoes would have made it easier!
As you make your way forward from the entrance, ignore the path off to your right around the lochan and take the left-hand path which will be signposted.
The path is steep in sections but well maintained. You’ll find the buzz of the A9 quickly disappears as you make your way further into the reserve. There are lots of viewing points and it will level out in sections given you the chance to take a rest. The view across the resort, Aviemore and Cairngorms is one not to be missed. Camera’s at the ready!!
The path contours around the main part of the reserve acting as an amphitheatre. You’ll find your dog will love the fauna and flora. As the descent isn’t too steep, there are plenty of opportunities for them to bound off and enjoy the new smells.
Just as you feel you about to start making your way back down the circular route, you’ll be met with an option to extend your walk. If you turn left, you’ll have the option to walk up to viewpoint clear of trees. Note this path is not fully constructed and rougher being used for both your ascent and descent. When the constructed path ends, a rougher path continues up for a final ascent. This will lead you to a large cairn with spectacular views. If you do choose the extension, you will return via the same path you took to ascend.
Turning right myself at that junction, I made my way down a wider track leading me to a large pond.
There are seating options around the pond. With wildlife galore, this would be the perfect place to settle down and unpack a picnic. I saw just one other family whilst out on my walk and thus you are likely to find a private area to enjoy.
Taking right-hand forks for the rest of the walk, you’ll soon rejoin the original path and entrance to the nature reserve. You can now head back through the tunnel and forward onto the Youth Hostel. Or if you are staying at the resort, turn left after the tunnel into the resort.
By this point, you should have one happy dog and if you are anything like me, lots of pictures!
Remember, if you are looking for other dog walks in Aviemore, you might want to check out Loch an Eilein. You can find the details of the 2-hour circular walk HERE.
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