Craigellachie Nature Reserve

Immediately to the west of Aviemore, behind the A9 bypass, stands the height of Craigellachie (490m), itself an outlier of Carn Dearg Mor about two miles away. The lower slopes of Craigellachie are liberally cloaked in natural birchwood, and it's in this area that the Craigellachie Nature Reserve has been designated.

Craigellachie includes several woodland trails, a viewpoint balcony, and a couple of picturesque lochans. It's a fair bet that few of Aviemore's visitors are even aware that Craigellachie exists, but those who are curious and who wander through the sinister corrugated iron tunnel under the A9 find a quiet world of natural forest with rewarding views across Aviemore towards the Cairngorms.

If you wander across to the southwest apex of the Aviemore centre, beyond the dry ski slope and the caravan park, you reach this peaceful little lochan.
The lochan is not named on the map. It makes a rather nice picnic spot and is surprisingly unfrequented. The cynic would argue that most of Aviemore's visitors get nervous without the sensation of concrete or tarmac under their feet, and don't stray far enough from the hotel bars to discover scenic gems like this.
I did once spot someone camped by this lochan. Strictly against the rules, but I wonder if anyone actually noticed?
The Aviemore centre's hotels are only a couple of hundred meters away but I'm the only person here. Spooky.
Beyond the A9 bypass is the Craigellachie nature reserve proper. This cairn marks a choice of forest trails - you can take the upper trail (via the viewpoint) or the lower trail (via the lochans).
Loch Puladdern, spoiled a little nowadays by the hum of traffic from the adjacent A9 but still very picturesque.
The forest trail through the nature reserve.
From the high trail adjacent the the viewing platform, the Aviemore centre and Loch Puladdern are seen nearby - but the eye is drawn beyond them to the high tops of the Cairngorms, ten miles to the east.

The greater part of the Aviemore Centre appears in this view, with the Meall a Buachaille (Shepherd's Lump, 810m) in the distance.
The second, un-named lochan, with the original village of Aviemore beyond.
Another shot of the Aviemore centre from the high trail.
Loch Puladdern's un-named neighbour, for my money the more scenic of the two lochans. Perhaps my only criticism of Craigellachie is the lack of places to sit to enjoy the view - you'd think there would be a few patches of grass or even a couple of rude log seats to park yourself on, but the lochans have to be enjoyed from a standing position. 

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This page last updated 30th December 2001