Christmas in the Cairngorms

Our Christmas adventure of 2018 started at 5.00 am on the 23rd of December. The kids were dragged out of their beds and stuffed into the car, fully dressed in preparation for our escape. A 5 hour drive loomed ahead ending at our first destination. Edinburgh and it’s famous Christmas market. I had booked the ice rink in St Andrews Square to do a bit of ‘Bambi on ice’, and also the Big Wheel to take in a few sights of Edinburgh. Then on to Christmas in the Cairngorms!

First Stop

We arrived at Edinburgh in good time and strolled around. We were very impressed with the City and its charming array of vintage shops on wonderfully cobbled streets. It wasn’t too cold and the kids had a brilliant time flailing around on the ice, while I got considerably warm trying to stay upright!

Eventually, we got back in the car to travel up to our cottage we had rented in Aviemore. (See our review here!) We arrived in the dark and had no clue as to where we were, or the scenery around us. It was pitch black at 7pm.


The cottage is wonderful. We let ourselves in and were greeted by a homemade cake and warm interiors. A pizza was thrown in the oven and the kids set to work decorating the little cottage with a few Christmas bits I had brought along with us. We felt at home right from the moment we stepped in the door and the kids loved having a new bedroom to play hide and seek in.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, we woke to the sound of birds chirping and not much else. A peep out the window showed us the wonderful setting we were in. There are trees all around, a rope swing and the promise of hills in the distance.

We had a warm breakfast to set us up for the day, then wandered into Aviemore to stock up on vegetables for Christmas Day from the local Aldi. A Costa stop ensued to keep us toasty for the reindeer sanctuary. With the promise of Rudolph’s cousins and a sneaky Santa visit, the kids were eager to get there and experience the magic. It was very busy! For a £16 family ticket (which I thought was very reasonable) we got entrance to the reindeers’ paddocks and all the information inside. We made reindeer cards, listened to the very knowledgable staff members and went on a gnome hunt with a chocolate prize at the end.

After exhausting the reindeers, we carried on back to the cottage. Not before stopping at Loch Morlich for a little stroll on the beach. We caught an amazing glow of the sun and Finley got to throw his rocks into the water. Simple things eh?

Festive Fun

After a quick freshen up back at the cottage, we went back to Aviemore for the Christmas Eve parade. We waited to watch Santa come past with the bagpipers playing and followed them to the Cairngorm hotel for Christmas songs and fireworks. I must admit, that was the longest fireworks display I have ever witnessed! Tea was burger and chips at a place called the Skiing Doo, a very quirky little bar on the main stretch of Aviemore.

Settled in our beds, we snuggled down wondering if the big red man will arrive while we were away from home.

The Big Day

Christmas day arrived with squeals from the kids when they noticed Santa had been. He had left a simple pile of presents including Lego, board games and small action figures. They set to work assembling their toys while I prepared breakfast. Christmas dinner was prepped while we got ready in our matching outfits. We drove out to Loch An Eileen for a short stroll to increase our appetites before our majestic feast.

Christmas Day was wonderfully peaceful, with no interruptions. It gave us a chance as a family to bond and play and laugh with each other. Normally, we have a busy Christmas with lots of family members, which I LOVE, but it was a nice change to relax and sit with the children and devote myself to them.

Will we return?

If I have the chance again, I will definitely go back to Aviemore. There was a certain charm about the small town which was very inviting over the winter months. My only regret was that I didn’t book longer for our break. On Boxing Day we had a stroll around the Cairngorm mountain and headed down to Glasgow for a Cinderella pantomime on the 27th December.

In all we had 3 days of wonderful, outdoorsy fun, in a peaceful yet adventurous location. Scotland has definitely taken a piece of my heart and leaves me yearning to discover more. The kids felt like they’d had a wonderful foreign adventure and will remember our first Christmas away for years to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

We’d love to stay in touch! Please consider signing up for the monthly newsletter where you will receive #Hikerkidz updates, new routes to explore and exclusive discount codes.