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21st June 2016 | Regional News

Explore Scotland’s National Parks

back to nature

With National Parks Week approaching next month (25th-31st July 2016), we’ve uncovered the best places to enjoy a walk in Scotland and discover a variety of spectacular scenic views.

National Parks Week is all about celebrating nature by visiting a national park, from going on a walk with your dog (ensuring dogs are kept under control at all times due to rare wildlife and sensitive vegetation), to a romantic stroll as a couple or even as an adventure-filled day out for the whole family. The summer months are the perfect time to enjoy nature at its best, so we’re encouraging people to go outdoors and explore whilst on holiday in Scotland!

The national parks of Scotland are managed areas of outstanding landscape, and at present the country has two parks, the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs.

Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park is the largest in the UK, so there is plenty to see and explore. Located in North East Scotland in the heart of the Highlands, the park was officially established in 2003.

Reported to be twice the size of the Lake District, the Cairngorms attracts skiers and snowboarders in the winter months, so a trip to the Cairngorm Mountain Centre is worth a visit.

During the summer, guided walks are offered where you can explore the beautiful natural landscape in some of the wildest parts of the Cairngorms. One of the advantages of a guided walk enables you to explore some of the lesser-known parts of the national park. The trips last all-day on hilly terrain, so due to the nature of the walk, the correct dress code is required (e.g. walking boots, clothing to suit the elements), as well as bringing your own lunch and a drink. They are suitable for families, but not for children aged 8 or below, and dogs must be kept on a lead at all times. Further information on the guided walks can be found here.

Video sourced from CairnGorm Mountain Ltd.

If you fancy sightseeing at your own pace though, be sure to have a reconnoitre at the mighty mountains and gorges, plus the Caledonian pine forest, wild open moorland and cascading rivers.

From waterfalls and tranquil streams, to stunning lochs such as Loch Garten which is full of wildlife spotting opportunities for the whole family to enjoy. The national park is home to an array of wildlife, including a quarter of the UK’s rare and endangered species. From red squirrels and golden eagles, to crested tits and snow bunting, there are so many animals to see in their natural habitat. Either keep an eye out for them yourself whilst on a scenic walk, or if you fancy a guided tour, Speyside Wildlife for example offer day tours in the Cairngorms and beyond.

Video sourced from Wilderness Scotland on Vimeo.

There is a wide variety of fantastic walking routes available for beginners to the more experienced ramblers, so check out Wilderness Scotland’s top five walking routes in the Cairngorms from Loch an Eilein to Ben Macdui to ensure you make the most of your trip.

As well as the stunning scenery there are also plenty of attractions to visit from historical castles to distilleries to stroll around.

Video sourced from The Cairngorms National Park.

If you require information on how to get there, visit here for directions and a useful map of the area.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

The first of the two national parks to be established by the Scottish Parliament, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is the fourth largest national park in the British Isles.

The major attractions of the park are its beautiful scenery, walks, and wildlife. The area makes the perfect setting for a family trip, with plenty of natural backdrops to enjoy and water sport activities such as kayaking and canoeing to discover.

From its sparkling lochs, breath-taking hill views, and quaint villages, there are a variety of walking opportunities available, from easy strolls to adrenaline-fueled routes for the more experienced walker. For tips on some of the best rambling routes available, visit Friends of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs for information on both easy walks suitable for the whole family to more strenuous, steep inclines.

You won’t find a much bigger lake than Loch Lomond, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Enjoy views of Ben Lomond and beyond from the peaceful waters, or get yourself walking on foot around the surrounding areas, with plenty of nature trails to enjoy. Whatever you decide to do, ensure you plan your trip so you don’t miss a thing by checking out this list of great visitor attractions.

Video sourced from LomondTrossachs.

Towards the southern end of Loch Lomond, there is a national park visitor centre called Loch Lomond Shores which offers useful visitor information, plus shops and restaurants.

Covering the whole of Scotland, Walkhighlands have detailed descriptions and maps of just under 2000 different walking routes, including maps of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs national park and Cairngorms national park.

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