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ACTIVE OUTDOORS: Snow and sunshine on Loch Morlich circuit

By John Davidson

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On a wintry camping trip to Glenmore, John Davidson takes his children on a scenic walk around Loch Morlich

Matthew and Jennifer content with the warmer part of the walk.
Matthew and Jennifer content with the warmer part of the walk.

Spring may have sprung, but in the Cairngorms the mountains still cling to their winter wonders. Even in Glenmore the temperatures are noticeably cooler.

I know this because I took the children camping there during the Easter holidays, waking up each morning to a crisp frost, turning the tent door into a solid gateway to the great outdoors.

Playing on the beach at Loch Morlich, we headed off – during a big snow shower – to walk this circuit around Loch Morlich.

It’s a popular route that can be walked or cycled easily enough, though can be a bit more challenging when trying to encourage a four-year-old who is enjoying building a sand castle with nothing but his bare hands!

Jennifer, Matthew and Clara at a marker post beside the bridge.
Jennifer, Matthew and Clara at a marker post beside the bridge.

We headed along the beach towards the mountains, picking up a path that leads through beautiful Scots pines to meet the Abhainn Ruigh-eunachan. The route bends left here to follow the river up to a footbridge.

With a bit of help from his big sister Jennifer, Matthew finally warmed up to the idea of walking as the snow stopped and he could march ahead.

On the other side of the river, we took the path straight ahead for a stretch before going left then right to reach the south-east corner of the loch. It’s a peaceful spot here and the sun had now come out, even sharing some of its warmth with us.

The path follows the edge of the water briefly before cutting left to climb to a track junction, where you turn right to continue on the circuit around the loch.

Matthew battles his way through the snow storm.
Matthew battles his way through the snow storm.

This wider track is well made and easy to follow, with views through the trees to the water. After it bends sharply to the left, there are amazing views back towards Meall a’ Bhuachaille to the north, capped with snow and looking very much the sizeable mountain it is, despite sometimes appearing paltry opposite its larger, more intimidating Cairngorms neighbours.

Clara and I walked ahead and Matthew and Jennifer sauntered along behind, happy to be warmed up and, dare I suggest, even enjoying themselves now.

The air is clear, there is space to run and play, and plenty for them to be captivated by.

At a junction, the loop route keeps right to cross a burn, which we did via the wooden bridge by foot but is great fun straight through the ford on a bike!

A little way further on and you reach a green gate just before another track; this one provides the access to Rothiemurchus Lodge. We paused at the gate for a sweetie and a phone chat with mum – who was stuck at home having to work.

Matthew in his stride with Meall a'Bhuachaille behind.
Matthew in his stride with Meall a'Bhuachaille behind.

Then we turned right and followed the track to the bridge over the River Luineag which flows out of Loch Morlich. Just before the road, a path is marked through the trees along the loch-side which soon emerges at the Loch Morlich car park.

The views into the Northern Corries from here are spectacular, even with the cloud hanging ominously over them as they were in fits and starts today. A paddleboarder slowly glided across the scene and a flock of ducks demanded food we didn’t have, providing the children with yet more excitement!

Tearing ourselves away from this picturesque scene, we carefully crossed the car park to follow the marked path up to the road crossing to meet the Old Logging Way on the far side.

This old route provides a wonderful off-road trail from Aviemore into the heart of Glenmore, and should be an inspiration for creating active travel routes throughout the rest of the Highlands and beyond.

We followed the excellent path back towards the visitor centre – all the while pretending Matthew was a duck with Jennifer feeding him imaginary bread crumbs to encourage him along this final stretch of the walk!

Arriving at the visitor centre, we were 10 minutes too late for the café, which to our dismay had just closed at 3.30pm – and we weren’t the only people to try the door over the next few minutes.

Still, it was only a short stroll across the road to the campsite, where I brewed up coffee and hot chocolate for the intrepid explorers, just as the snow started to fall again.

A paddleboarder glides across the loch.
A paddleboarder glides across the loch.

Route details

Loch Morlich circuit

Distance 4.5 miles / 7km

Terrain Good off-road paths and tracks, beach, road crossings

Start/finish Loch Morlich beach, Glenmore

Map OS Landranger 36; OS Explorer OL57

This popular circuit of Loch Morlich offers great view to the mountains

On the Old Logging Way for the last section of the route.
On the Old Logging Way for the last section of the route.

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