Aviemore Ski Resort Information
Remarkably, Aviemore can perhaps offer more activities and attractions than any other ski resort in the world. Along with the royal palaces, ancient battle grounds, mythical monsters and world-famous distilleries, other possible outings include the Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart (home of the Scottish Open) golf courses, stunning beaches such as those at Nairn (much loved by Charlie Chaplin), and one of the world's most scenic rail trips to John O'Groats – the most northerly settlement on the British mainland.
Aviemore town itself has a long list of facilities and activities on its doorstep. Outdoor pursuits include a fishing lake, many beautiful walks, hiking and mountain biking trails, a steam train line, and the more unusual attractions of all-weather dog sledding and a reindeer farm. Indoors, visitors can make use of the town’s swimming pool complex and cinema.
Aviemore is very much a family-friendly resort with high-quality accommodation and excellent leisure facilities, from a swimming pool to steam train rides. The Hilton Coylumbridge Resort (tel: +44 1479 810 661; www.hilton.co.uk) has particularly good facilities, including a great soft play area for younger children.
On the ski slopes, the resort tries hard to be family orientated, with well-trained and friendly staff, but practical problems can include long queues, overcrowded restaurants, old lifts, extreme weather and hazard-strewn ski runs that can make the experience challenging for some families. This is even more noticeable for visitors who have previously been ‘pampered’ on immaculately smooth, relatively empty runs with comfortable modern lifts in Europe or North America.
On the other hand, Britain's best skiers, including its only Olympic medallist Alain Baxter, learned their skills on Cairngorm Mountain, and there's a thriving youth ski racing club here.
Aviemore has a good selection of about 25 shops covering all holiday essentials, as well as a smattering of souvenir and gift retailers selling local products. There are also half a dozen well-equipped sports shops throughout the resort, where skiers and boarders can buy ski gear and accessories.
The Rothiemurchus Estate (tel: +44 1479 812 345; www.rothiemurchus.net) controls much of the land around Aviemore and offers dozens of activities, including clay pigeon shooting for anyone 12 years and over (children accompanied by adults), and will happily take beginners. Different packages are available; the best being the ‘gold experience’ for two hours, which includes gun, cartridges, clay targets, protective eyewear and hearing protection with professional safety instruction.