Below are some personal recommendations to get you started!
There are many marvellous spots round here to jump in for a few minutes or if you feel like it stay in longer and swim. The first requires no wetsuit, the second probably does. You can swim in the River Spey down by the station, along the Coffin Road, or up from the house up near to Shepherd’s bridge at the opening to Glen Banchor or over at Loch Insh. Further afield Loch Morlich has a super beach and is great for a dip with the Cairngorms as your back drop.
Swimwilduk.com run by Alice Goodridge, who is based in Newtonmore, offers a half day experience where she takes you to secret swimming holes for dips. It costs £85 but is worth every penny.
A special place to swim is the Green Loch up from Glenmore Lodge. In fact always have your swim stuff in the car or on the bike!
All of the lochs are paddle board possible.
- Loch Morlich has very easy access from either the big or small beach. You can also rent paddle boards and equipment from there and get instruction. If you want one to one instruction more locally try Jason on 07816413860 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s £35 for 2 hours
individual instruction. He will meet you wherever you want or will suggest a place locally for instruction.
Check out what he has to offer on his website (www.element67.co.uk) - the river trip starting at Kingussie, which is very easy to access from here, looks great fun.
- Loch Insh has a great selection of watersports and formal instruction but if you want to just use your own paddle board, drive through the village of Kincraig and just over the bridge, there is a parking spot for about 5 cars. Park there, cross the road and go in with your paddle board there. Also you can have a great swim there.
There is a super cafe nearby in Kincraig which makes wonderful sandwiches - the Old Post Office, Kincraig.
- There is a beautiful loch on the road to Nethy Bridge just past the Coylumbridge Hotel. Drive along there for about 5 minutes and you will come to Pityoulish Loch. Drive on until you come to a lay-by on the left and across the road there is a gate that gives you direct access to the loch. Again great for a swim.
- Loch Garten is very beautiful and a lot of people are Paddle Boarding up there but try to avoid from April to beginning of August as it is a very bird sensitive area.
There are a lot more places and you can find some on the internet but the above are my favourites.
- From the house cycle down to the main road, turn right and cycle c1.5 miles until you get to the sign for Ralia cafe. Take it and continue on this car free path until you come to the road-signposted Glen Truim. It is little hilly but you wind up, past the campsite and when you reach the top, you arrive at the centre of Scotland! A fabulous viewpoint and you just come back the same way-round trip 1 hour.
- Another great cycle is from the house to Blair Atholl. Not as huge as you might think. Start off as above and then instead of turning off on the Glen Truim Rd carry onto Dalwhinnie on the back road, through Dalwhinnie and just before you reach the A9, you will see a sign for the cycle track on the right. A little uphill until the Drumochter Pass (1516 ft above sea-level) and then downhill all the way-about 2 and half hours (on tracks or on the old A9). Go and have lunch at the Old Watermill at Blair Atholl and get the train back to Newtonmore and if the train does not stop at Newtonmore, all trains stop at Kingussie and there is a cycle track from Kingussie to Newtonmore which is only 3 miles!
- Drive to Laggan-10 minutes and then take the sign to Garva. Park the car in the car park on the left and then just get on your bike and cycle until you are tired! Beautiful, quiet road-about an hour until the end. Have a picnic and cycle back. Nice wee coffee shop on the corner.
- Cycle to Aviemore on the back road. Take the cycle track to Kingussie, take the road to Ruthven Barracks and keep going-past Insh and then down to Feshiebridge and on you go until the road ends at Inverdruie. Turn left onto a cycle track and you are in Aviemore within 5 minutes. Get the train back to Newtonmore if possible or Kingussie if not. If this sounds too long, turn left at the sign for Loch Insh and go into their cafe for a snack or a drink. Return the same way.
- Glen Tromie is a good cycle too. You cycle the above road until you get to the bridge at the River Tromie.(not as far as Insh). Take a right and you are now on a very good gravel road. Keep going as far as you can. Lovely by the river. It stops at the reservoir-about an hour on the gravel road.
If you find a fabulous spot for swimming or paddle boarding, please let us know!
When the glaciers had finished with the Monadhliath Mountains, they had created a hauntingly beautiful range with ice-smoothed flanks, deep side glens and thick moraines of rubble through which streams and rivers push. Today the River Calder in the flat lower strath of Glen Banchor and its tributary Allt Fionndrigh were rumbling and roaring, rain-swollen torrents shifting boulders and pebbles from their glacial banks by the ton. Rain moved in rippling curtains through the vees of the side glens, hanging in the throat of Fionndrigh’s cleft before moving away on the west wind.
I passed the old cattle-raising and raiding settlement of Glenbanchor, now nothing more than mossy stones, and made north up the stony track where Glenbanchor’s cattle were driven each spring to sweeter grass high in the mountains. The Allt Fionndrigh came crashing down out of the hills and I walked upstream to find a footbridge. Red deer stags moved along the ridge 1,000ft overhead, only their antlers visible against the grey sky.
Under the rocky bluffs of Geal Charn I found a flimsy wooden bridge and crossed the river. A sodden and squelchy path led up and over a saddle of high moorland. I followed a line of old fence posts, descending a long slope towards the hissing torrent of Allt Ballach. On the far side the hills rose to humpback peaks — Carn Dearg and Carn Macoul, with a jumble of darkly magnificent mountains to the edge of sight beyond.
Down by the River Calder I turned for home. A frantic squealing in the upper air drew my binoculars. A pair of peregrines circled me, driving the intruder out of their private wilderness.
8 miles. Trackless and boggy from footbridge in Fionndrigh Glen onwards; best avoided when ground sodden. Take map (OS Explorer OL56), compass, GPS, hillwalking gear, stick.
From Newtonmore follow Glen Road to Shepherd’s Bridge car park. Cross Shepherd’s Bridge; on for ½ mile. Just before footbridge to Glenballoch (681993), right up Allt Fionndrigh River; join track up Fionndrigh glen. In 2 miles, descend left to cross footbridge (659019); follow track up cleft for 500m. At top (657015), a more easily visible track swings right, but continue 50m then bear left up faint grassy 4x4 track, aiming for Creag Liath peak. In 100m, track swings right; in 200m, it reaches old fence posts (657012). Follow them to right (tricky underfoot — keep well left of the posts till past peat hags). Follow posts down to Allt Balloch River (652005); left beside river for 1¼ miles to confluence with River Calder (652986). Left to Glenballoch and car park.
Information: Aviemore TIC (01479 810930); visitscotland.com; christophersomerville.co.uk
Taken from The Times Britain’s Best Walks: 200 Classic Walks from The Times, by Christopher Somerville