The Cairngorms National Park is world-renowned as one of the best locations to spot rare and endangered wildlife in Scotland. Various nature reserves and promoted walks offer fantastic opportunities to stop off and catch sight of special animals and insects, all peppered with beautiful flora and fauna. The Cairngorms National Park is home to a quarter of Scotland’s native forest and, hidden in plain sight along the route, is magnificent Scots Pine trees which were originally part of the ancient Caledonia Forest.
The SnowRoads runs through the heart of the park and, as you travel, you should keep an eye out for Mountain Hare, Red Squirrels, Osprey, Eagles, Deer and Otters which are frequently spotted along the route. It is also home to the illusive Capercaillie and Scottish Wildcat.
DAY 1: BLAIRGOWRIE
You can take a circular walk Blairgowrie through the countryside and woods which are carpeted with bluebells in the early summer. This route also takes in some lochs where wildlife spotting is easy. Take a visit to the Bamff Estate near Alyth, where you can learn about the re-introduction of beavers into the wilds of Scotland. When journeying from Blairgowrie to Braemar keep an eye out for red deer in this wildlife hotspot. Auchentaple Loch, Blairgowrie
DAY 2: BRAEMAR
Head to the Mar Lodge Estate from the village of Braemar. It’s made up of more than 29,000 hectares of astonishing Scottish landscape, heather-covered moorland, Caledonian Pine forest, towering mountains and the Quoich Wetlands, home to wading birds and otters. The estate is one of the most important areas for nature conservation in the British Isles and in 2017 it was awarded National Nature Reserve status – making it the largest NNR in the UK. Spot some iconic Scottish wildlife including red deer, ptarmigan, pine martens, golden eagles and mountain hares and follow in Queen Victoria’s footsteps who picnicked at the Linn of Dee. Mar Lodge Estate, Braemar
DAY 3: BALLATER
There are many wildlife guides and tour operators in the area who can take you out in their 4x4 to learn about the land. Nearby Glen Tanar Estate also offers woodland walks and sports. Just at the edge of the village of Dinnet, The Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve offers signposted walks through beautiful Deeside woodland and around waterlily clothed Loch Kinord. It is a great place for spotting wildlife, birds and insects and also native flora and fauna and woodland wildflowers. The waymarked walks guide you to impressive geological features such as the Burn O' Vat and historical stones and buildings. The Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve, Dinnet
DAY 4: TOMINTOUL
Before heading into the village, pay a visit to the Tomintoul bird hide to see how many Curlew, Lapwing (Peesies), Oystercatcher, Snipe and Redshank you can spot in one of the best breeding areas for waders in the North East of Scotland. Tomitoul Bird Hide
A short distance from Tomintoul is the Ailnack Gorge, Scotland's largest glacial melt water channel at 600 ft wide, 300 ft deep and 6 miles long. You can walk from the village on a good walking path and the wooded slopes around the gorge are home to red squirrel and roe deer, while the moors above are the haunt of red deer and mountain hare. The Water of Ailnack runs through the gorge and makes for wonderful photo opportunities. The Ailnack Gorge
DAY 5: GRANTOWN
The village of Grantown is surrounded by woodland. Anagach Woods are a beautiful natural Scots pinewood. There are several waymarked trails through the woods and views of the River Spey are wonderful. The woods are home to the illusive Capercaillie although it’s very rare to spot them. Anagach Woods, Grantown