SERIES – A FAMILY VACATION IN GREAT BRITAIN
Welcome to Meall a’ Bhuachaille, our first hill hike in Cairngorms National Park, located along the eastern edges of the Scottish Highlands. Join us as we attempt to bag our first munro, and experience our first taste of this stunning, storied landscape.
Though not as technical, nor as tall, as other Scottish munros, this family friendly hill hike to the summit of Meall a’ Bhuachaille is sure to get the heart pumping! The reward once there? Incredible, impressive views as far as the eye can see.
On The Trail To Maell a’Bhuachaille
Our adventure begins a short distance from the village of Aviemore, a lovely home base for an eastern Highlands adventure. Come prepared! This hill walk may be considered family friendly but don’t let that lull you into thinking it’s an easy hike!
So lace up those hiking boots, pack a snack and a water bottle, and let’s hit the trail. It starts off simply enough with a nice, easy stroll along a compacted dirt path through ancient Caledonian pine trees. Looks can be deceiving, though!
Once the pines are past, the trail begins a steady, sometimes steep, climb upwards along a narrow path. Climbing. Still climbing! All the way up to the summit at 810 meters. Hope you packed a jacket! The wind up top can get pretty fierce, and chilly too!
Made it! Our first munro has been bagged. The effort is rewarded with amazing views across wild and wonderful Cairngorms National Park, even on a cloudy day. Stand at the edge of this windswept ridge, soaking it all in, including Loch Morlich in the distance.
Highland Views On The Hike Down
Incredible views and wonderful landscapes admired. Time to head back down. Much like the trail leading up to the summit, the trail down the back side is fairly rough and rugged.
Watch your step! Loose rocks and steep sections require a close eye kept on the path ahead. Slow and steady brings one down safely, and allows time to enjoy the fabulous, expansive views of Abernathy Forest off in the distance.
The trail winds down the summit to a fork in the road marked by Ryvoan Bothy, a stone hut with a decidedly Scottish flair. A choice now to be made. Left? Right? With rain on the horizon, it’s time to chose the trail leading back to the trailhead.
The trail continues along a fairly flat, easy path, and past breath-taking An Lochan Uaine. Remember this loch? It first came into view on the hike down. Pause to admire the brilliant blue-green, crystal clear waters, the hillock’s reflection at its center.
Time for a break at the water’s edge, and a chance to cool off weary feet. Though a tad bit on the frigid side, the sparkling clear loch waters are sure to refresh and rejuvenate onself for the remainder of the hike.
All rested and ready to wrap up this hike. Though not before one final stretch of lower elevation ruggedness and beauty. Alas, the end of the trail approaches. Yes, it was a successful, fun hike had by all, and our first munro bagged!
That’s a Wrap and a Munro Bagged!
Meall a’ Bhuachaille is a wonderful trail choice for a family with older kids, and everyone in decent shape. It is easily accessible, yet providing incredible views and just enough challenge for a family’s first munro experience. And it’s a great venue for some fun antics like hide and seek amongst the pine trees!
A Few Final Travel Tips:
- Plan for 3-6 hours, depending upon how far and how fast you hike.
- Be prepared for a minimum of 5.5 miles, more depending upon your trail choice.
- Also be prepared for sections of steep elevation both up, and back down.
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes. It’s a long hike along various different terrain.
- Pack plenty of snacks and water. You won’t find any along the trail!
- Pack an extra layer. Temperatures can be vastly different from trailhead to summit.
But mostly, have fun! Enjoy the adventure. And perhaps a game of hide and seek too.
Read more about our adventures across Great Britain at:
- Snippets of a Fabulous Family Vacation in Great Britain
- Favorite Family Experiences in Old Town Edinburgh, Scotland
Stick around as there’s more to come!
All images by C.Biederman