High-altitude Tomintoul is a gateway to the Cairngorms and plenty of outdoor thrills.
Lying on the northern slopes of the Cairngorms mountains range, within the Cairngorms National Park, Tomintoul has the distinction of being the highest village in the Highlands. It’s home to the sprawling Glenlivet Estate, which has a mountain biking centre, and the perfect base for exploring the spectacular surrounding scenery that defines this corner of Scotland. Those setting up camp nearby can enjoy close proximity to mountain trails, secluded lochs and dense, ancient forest, and can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, from hiking, climbing and kayaking to white water rafting, skiing and snowboarding.
In the middle of the village, Tomintoul Bowling Club is open to members of the public to bowl on Scotland’s highest bowling green. The bowling club also runs a small campsite with a handful of pitches for caravans and motorhomes, all hard standing and with hook ups. Also on Tomintoul’s Main Street, The Smuggler’s Hostel has tent pitches. Heading just north of Tomintoul, the small settlement of Fodderletter is home to the adults-only glamping spot, Old Pine Yurt.
The Highland resort town of Aviemore is the region’s main hub and packed full of amenities and outdoor outfitters. A peaceful getway from the buzz of town, but still within walking distance, Oakwood Camping and Caravan is in a quiet, wooded area and has hard standing pitches for caravans and motorhomes, as well as three small tent areas. Weary travellers can also opt for a heated pod at Eriskay B&B and Glamping.
Around a 40-minute drive west of Tomintoul, the freshwater Loch Morlich is a popular spot for kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. On the edge of the loch, Glenmore Campsite has pitches for tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes.
The Cairngorms is a year-round destination, though most visitors arrive in summer to take advantage of the long daylight hours and relatively warm weather. Spring and summer are best for enjoying water sports and hiking in the area, although you may have to contend with crowded trails and booked up sites in the peak season. Those who are planning to enjoy winter sports should aim for late February through March when the snowfall is heaviest.