Highlands Family Adventure
United Kingdom, 8 Days From $ 1,495 per person Themes
The family holiday offers the best of Scotland's fun filled activities, including mountain biking, hiking, fishing and wildlife watching. You will visit world famous attractions, such as Loch Ness, historic Urquhart Castle, the Glenlivet Distillery and Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve. On this trip, many of Soctland's traditions are treated to a family friendly twist as you'll be taken for a kilt fitting, a visit to a whisky emporium, served up a Burns Supper and have a fun day out at the Highland Games.
Your home away from home, this lodge based family adventure is the no hassle way to see Scotland. You'll be met at your point of arrival, whether it is Inverness Airport or Aviemore train station, and taken to comfortable Fraoch Lodge at Boat of Garten. There, you'll explore the fabulous landscape on a self-guided mountain biking adventure of about 9 miles that takes in a famous steam train, Caledonian pine woods and a unique osprey hide.
You'll be taken on a guided outing to visit world famous Loch Ness and impressive Urquhart Castle, followed by a cycle along the scenic and wildlife rich South Loch Ness Trail. You'll have a guided day filled with Scottish traditions, including kilt fittings, whisky making and tasting if you would like, a castle visit and a Burns Supper. There will be a self guided day filled with family friendly activities including "throwing a pot", mountain biking and the chance to try a spot of fishing; another guided day in the Torridon area for a day of walking and a day at the traditional Highland Games events that take place on different days throughout the summer.
Flexible date(s). Please Contact Us.
Hiking & Trekking
Why Authentic Ecotourism?
- Overall, the approach is to abide by the 3 R's: Reduce, Re-use, Recycling, in that order. In fact Mountain Innovations goes one stage further with a 4th R - Resourceful - sustainably, of course.
- We are the only lodge who can claim to be sustainably self-sufficient in anyway. It may only be in 3 things: herbs, kindling and compost, but it is a start. We have been self sufficient in these things since we opened in 1998. Why is it good to be self-sufficient. Well there is far less, virtually zero, inbound energy. There's no packaging and in our case, no transport involved.
- We compost all kitchen vegetable waste and non-woody garden waste i.e. all weeds, 'soft' cuttings, lawn cuttings, etc. We have over 4 cubic meters of composting capacity which is a lot but is an appropriate for the size of the grounds and amount of waist vegetable matter produced. Their size and construction allows adequate heat build up to result in the destruction of weeds and their seeds - therefore reducing the need for organic herbicides. Soil is added to form good compost. This is then spread on the garden and vegetable patch and some is riddled to produce fine potting compost. This way the nutrients are returned to the ground. We don't use horticultural peat products - the use of peat by British gardeners has resulted in the destruction of a number of bog habitats in Ireland.
- All woody garden waste resulting from tree and shrub pruning are cut up, dried and used as kindling on our wood burning stove & open fire. This avoids having to purchase kindling that inevitably has far more in-bound energy or using firelighters which have their origins in fossil fuels.
- We source as much local produce as we can, not least from out fantastic local butcher going by the name of Mr Mustard. We employ local instructors and guides and operate year round in the Highlands helping to sustain the local economy throughout the quieter periods. We have a shop in the village open 7 days a week and a fantastic post office open from 7am!
- Newspaper and cardboard - these are reused for drying boots and lighting fires. We reuse office paper by printing on the reverse for internal company use. Junk mail, waist office paper and excess newspaper, steel and aluminium cans are all placed in our black box and collected by Highland Council for recycling.
- Wood Fuel - we burn cut-offs (a saw mill waste product) in our wood burning stove and on the open fire. The wood is cut and chopped mainly by hand to minimise the use of power tools. Over the forthcoming year we plan to increase are use of wood as a fuel to reduce our demand on less environmentally friendly types of energy.
- Why is wood good? Well, as long as it's grown sustainably, it doesn't introduce more carbon into the natural carbon cycle, as do fossil fuels. This is one way Mountain Innovations reduces its carbon emissions. Basically wood is a vehicle by which we convey the sun's energy to where we want it.
- Going full circle When man first step foot on these Isles he would have used wood as a fuel. This is becoming one of the important fuels for the future here in the Highlands and we are now looking it a wood pellet burner for Fraoch Lodge.
- Wood Ash is used on the garden as a potassium fertilizer. This is riddled to separate the ash from the charcoal which is returned to the wood stove.
- Nothing left on the hill. This includes things like banana skins, orange peel, uneaten food, etc. Although all these things are ultimately biodegradable, they only do so very slowly in the mountain environment. Apart from looking unsightly, encourage scavengers like Seagulls and Crows up into an environment in which they do not belong and, come the spring/summer, they will raid the nests of species such as Ptarmigan and Snow bunting.
- Native Trees to the region are encouraged to grow in the garden of Fraoch Lodge. One area of the garden has been over planted with non-native trees. These are in the process of being thinned to create more space and light for the native trees and organic growing. Inappropriately placed self-sown native saplings are transplanted to more appropriate locations. The wood is used for heating
- Glass is recycled via the local bottle banks, though we do feel that re-use would be far more preferable to avoid the huge amount of energy used to melt the glass down to make new bottles. We have notices in our accommodation encouraging guests to recycle glass and newspapers.
- Clothes and footwear are also sent for reuse or recycling and replaced computer equipment is sent to a charity that sends it on to less developed countries. Our used printer cartridges are set away for recycling and all unwanted furniture is collected by a local charity working to help the homeless.
- Carrier bags are re-used for carrying groceries so we reduce our demand. They are also used as bin liners. We do not use large black dustbin liners preferring to regularly wash the dustbin out.
- We encourage guests to use public transport by offering free transfers between Inverness Airport and Aviemore train station and by using a minibus to transport our guests between the accommodation and the start of the route when on our guided walking holidays or courses.
Day 1 - Arrival
You'll be met at your point of arrival, whether it is Inverness Airport or Aviemore train station, and taken to comfortable Fraoch Lodge at Boat of Garten.
Day 2 - Brooomhill, Abernethy Forest
Our families can take advantage of a first day rest before being treated to a home cooked breakfast served at 8:30. Today, we provide each guest with a high quality mountain bike and a detailed map so that you can enjoy a day of exploring at your own pace. Setting off from Fraoch Lodge, you will ride to the end of the street to catch the 10.50 steam train from Boat of Garten station. Few people can resist the allure and atmosphere of a steam train and the historic Strathspey Steam Railway is a real gem.
Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2013, the train puffs along from Aviemore, via Boat of Garten, to Broomhill. Perhaps you will recognise Broomhill station as Glenbogle Station, which was featured in the popular BBC series "Monarch of the Glen". Disembarking with your bikes at Broomhill, you will ride a quiet country road to meet the delightfully scenic Speyside Way in the pretty village of Nethybridge, a long distance Highlands walking and cycling route. The riding as you head west can be as leisurely or high speed as your family dictates but you are sure to be wowed by the stunning ancient pine woods of the Abernethy Forest.
Only a few areas of Scotland can claim to boast remains of the Caledonian pines, which would once have covered most of the country. Draped in their lichens, these ancient woods feel as if they are straight out of the Hobbit! Enjoy a picnic as and when you choose. We recommend the banks of beautiful Loch Garten for the wonderful views to the hills and its tranquil atmosphere. The forest is an RSPB reserve and is famed for its ospreys. Continue your ride taking a short detour to visit the RSPB's Loch Garten Osprey Hide. There is a small charge for this attraction but for opportunities to see these magnificent birds of prey it is a must do activity. On the short ride back to Fraoch Lodge, take the time to stop at Dragonfly Pond where dragonflies and damselflies make for a fascinating diversion. Arriving back for our special Cake o'clock (tea and delicious home made cake) there will then be time to relax, chat and get ready for the evening meal. The home cooked dinner is shared with our other guests and gives plenty of opportunity for swapping adventure tales and making new friends.
Day 3 - Loch Ness
An early breakfast allows us time to drive the fantastically scenic route to Loch Ness. Famed worldwide as the home of the Loch Ness Monster - aka Nessie - adults and children alike will delight in the opportunity to take in a little Nessie spotting. The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition offers a multimedia presentation leading you through seven themed areas and 500 million years of history, natural mystery and legend revealing the unique environment of Loch Ness and its famous resident. A short transfer along the northern shore of the loch will take us to Castle Urquhart.
Once one of Scotland's largest castles and the focus of considerable conflict between the 13th and 17th centuries, the property is now owned and cared for by Historic Scotland. While in ruins today, there is still a great deal to see and it is impossible not to be moved by the fabulous location and impressive architecture. The castle's history and the noble families, including Durward, MacDonald and Grant, who variously held this stronghold are told via a family friendly exhibition and audio-visual display. The next stop on our exciting Loch Ness day is Inverfarigaig, a pretty hamlet at the mouth of the River Farigaig and this time on the southern shore of Loch Ness.
Here we enjoy a picnic lunch on a pier, which was designed by the famous Scottish engineer Thomas Telford, before picking up mountain bikes for an 10 mile ride to Dores on the South Loch Ness Trail. The trail first heads along what is known locally as the Corkscrew road to a high point at 1300ft above Loch Ness. The rewards for this muscle pumping section are spectacular views along the length of Loch Ness and directly across to Urquhart Castle. The route then heads gradually downhill to the village of Dores. You will enjoy dinner Dores Inn, famed for its traditional Scottish atmosphere, warm welcome and hearty meals. The day is rounded off with a drive home via the Upper Findhorn Valley in the richly beautiful area of Strathdearn. You will be treated to miles of stunning scenery, most often backlit by a fabulous setting sun. Keep your eyes peeled, too, for golden eagles, which have made this landscape their home, as well as mountain hares. Back at Fraoch Lodge we imagine you'll fall into bed and a deep sleep.
Day 4 - Grantown on Spey, Glenlivet
Today we celebrate many things famously Scottish with a treasure trove of treats for all ages and interests. The first stop after a home cooked breakfast is the grand town of Grantown on Spey where guests can be fitted for a kilt. There is a full Highland kilt option for men, as well as Highland wear for women and children. The reason for the kilt fitting will be revealed later but first there are a few places to visit.
A scenic drive takes us to Glenlivet at the heart of Malt Whisky country. A fascinating Wild Farm Safari offers the chance to get up close to friendly reindeer, iron-age pigs, fallow deer, Soay sheep, wild boar and Highland breeds of cattle. From the farm we climb Cairn Diamh, a hill that reveals fantastic Highland views for relatively little hiking. The vistas on a clear day, including the easily recognisable peak of the mountain of Ben Rinnes, will take your breath away. From the 570m (1,968ft) summit, we will walk downhill along another section of the iconic Speyside Way to reach the Glenlivet Distillery. For whisky lovers, a tour of Glenlivet will be relished as you find out more about the single malt and taste a few Glenlivet drams. For children and those who would prefer a non-whisky activity, we will head to nearby Drumin Castle. Although in ruins, the fortified tower house makes for a fascinating tour with the option to take in a short circular walk.
Today, our Scottish extravaganza heads next to the Tomintoul, a village on the eastern edge of the Cairngorm National Park, where we will find a gem of a shop known as the Whisky Castle. The outlet specialises in single cask whisky bottlings and is home to hundreds of whiskies. Owner Mike Drury's knowledge and love of whisky is unparalled. The Whisky Castle also boasts an array of other Scottish produce in the Highland Food Market, which is run by wife Cathy. Our day would not be complete without a traditional Burns supper. Returning to Fraoch Lodge, via Grantown to pick up your Highland wear and kilts, you'll sit down to a meal of haggis, neeps and tatties replete with a few odes written by famous Scottish poet Rabbie Burns.
Day 5 - Aviemore
After breakfast, Rothiemurchus estate, near Aviemore, is the focus of today's activities. This wonderful landscape is perfect for a range of adventures with a wealth of signposted trails, picturesque lochs and woodland, as well as a chance to spot Scottish wildlife. You will be dropped off at nearby Coylumbridge with mountain bikes and a suggested riding route, at your own speed, to beautiful Loch an Eilean. A walking and cycling trail circuits the loch. Look out for the eye catching island castle. Loch an Eilean has been voted Britain's top picnic spot so we recommend you try it and see.
After a re-energising picnic, the next suggested highlight is a pottery, Pens Pots. Owner Penny Weir will show you how to throw your own pot and create an individual piece of pottery to take home with you. Back on your bikes you could choose to ride to Rothiemurchus Fish Farm where you can have a go at fishing for rainbow trout. Alternatively, why not feed the fish? A bag of pellets can be bought from the Fishery Tackle Shop. After a fun day, you will be picked up at Coylumbridge for the return trip to Fraoch Lodge and another rewarding evening meal.
Day 6 - Torridon
With such an amazing array of fabulous places to visit in the Higlands, it can be difficult to choose a destination. We think that the northwest area known as Torridon is well worth the drive and the early rise. The mountains here are truly splendid but still offer a range of walks to suit all ages and fitness levels. We can choose as a group to walk into magnificent Coire Mhic Fhearchair, acclaimed as one of the finest corries in Scotland. The straightforward hill walk reveals a classic view of the towering Triple Buttress, which on a sunny day is reflected in the waters of a stunning lochan (small loch/lake).
An alternative is to explore the Beinn Eighe Nature Trail, billed as Britain's only waymarked mountain walk. The trail heads through a Natural Nature Reserve (NNR), which is home to a wide range of habitats including ancient Caledonian pine woods. Renowned for its wildlife, you may be lucky enough to spot the elusive pine marten. The flexible itinerary offers the opportunity for fishing on Loch Bad an Sgalaig or an adrenaline charged afternoon of white water rafting. Every family is different so we offer a wide choice to keep everyone happy. Your evening meal is served on return to Fraoch Lodge.
Day 7 - Highland Games
A Highland Games is a unique event that celebrates the best of Scottish sports and displays, including heavy weights contests, caber tossing, bag pipe playing and Highland dancing. The Games include a chance for visitors to take part in competitions, too, such as hill races. Our own Andy will be speeding off in his shorts and off-road trainers so you might like to join him and try to beat him! If you would prefer, we can organise today to suit your own desires, perhaps heading off for another self guided mountain bike ride or to try a number of other activities, such as rafting, river bugging, gorge walking or canyoning. All these can be arranged suit different ages and adrenaline desires. After a full last day, there is a chance in the evening to relax and enjoy a slideshow of photographs of your week, as well as a delicious final feast at Fraoch Lodge.
Day 8 - Departure and Transfer to Other Points in Scotland
Please contact us for discounted children's pricing and alternate pricing if your group consists of more than 4 people or if you would like to participate in additional activities.
- Accommodation at Fraoch Lodge
- Full board at Fraoch Lodge - a holiday for mum too
- Entry fees to attractions: for Highland Games, Wild Farm, Urquhart Castle etc
- Cycle hire
- Guiding & transport on relevant days
- Transfers to/from Aviemore station or Inverness airport, if required
- Water, tea, coffee & hot chocolate are provided as part of lunches. (Soft drinks/juice can be provided for an additional fee.