Inverness to Cairngorms National Park

Inverness to Cairngorms

Discover the beauty of Cairngorms

It’s time to discover and experience the UK’s largest National Park. We have put together this road trip itinerary to explore from Inverness to Cairngorms National Park. If you love walking, nature and exploring the great outdoors we highly recommend a visit during a stay with us at The Kingsmills in Inverness.

Breakfast: Kingsmills Hotel

Start your day off right with a delicious Scottish breakfast at the Kingsmills Hotel. We’ll make sure you have a hearty and satisfying meal. A tasty hot-cooked breakfast and a variety of continental options to keep you fueled for the day ahead.

Exterior Day - credit captivating photography
The Kingsmills Hotel provides a perfect base for exploring near Inverness.

Morning: Carrbridge

From Inverness, your first stop is just 30 minutes away to the beautiful Carrbridge. Head east out of Inverness and take the A9 all the way there. Here, you will arrive at Carrbridge and you can take a short walk to Carrbridge Pack Horse Bridge scenic spot. Carrbridge is renowned for its 18th-century packhorse bridge and stands out as an ideal destination for nature lovers. It is considered one of the best spots in Scotland to observe red squirrels and other wildlife in their natural habitat.

Carrbridge, Cairngorms, Highlands, Scotland.
Carrbridge, Cairngorms, Highlands, Scotland.

Morning: Castle Roy

From Carrbridge, it’s just a 30-minute drive to the picturesque village of Nethy Bridge. Nethy Bridge is close to all parts of the Cairngorms National Park, making it easy for you to see everything around. From here you can take a 1-mile flat walk to Castle Roy. Castle Roy is a fortress constructed in the 12th century by the Clan Comyn on a small glacial mound north of Nethy Bridge and boasts a rich history. In 1420, the Clan Grant took over the area and continues to be the clan associated with this region. The castle remains a formidable structure with walls standing at an impressive 25 feet high. Retaining its simple, irregular four-sided design, Castle Roy has undergone minimal changes over the centuries. Recent carbon dating suggests that it stands as one of the oldest, largely unchanged castles of its kind in Scotland.

Aerial views of Castle Roy, 12th century fortress built by the Clan Comyn on a glacial mound north of the village of Nethy Bridge, Scotland.
Aerial views of Castle Roy, a 12th-century fortress built by the Clan Comyn.

Lunch: Abernethy National Nature Reserve

Next, head back down to Neathy Bridge and a few minutes away is Abernethy National Nature Reserve. You’ll be able to find a nice spot for a picnic here or head to the visitors centre. Abernethy is a breathtaking place that showcases some of Scotland’s most incredible wildlife. This reserve is a mix of ancient Caledonian pinewood, moorland, bog and mountains. It offers something for everyone. Keep an eye out for the lively red squirrel and the yellow siskin, residents of the pinewood. If you head to Loch Garten, you might witness the impressive ospreys nesting high in the tree tops, making it a must-see for nature enthusiasts.

A red squirrel standing on a branch.
Keep an eye out for red squirrels in the Abernethy National Nature Reserve.

Afternoon: Tomintoul

Just 30 minutes from Abernethy National Nature Reserve, you’ll find Tomintoul. This is the highest village in the Highlands, sitting at 1,165 feet above sea level. Explore one of the six available walks in the area, such as the Bridge of Avon Link. Take a stroll through woodlands and farmlands to reach the Old Bridge of Avon, a journey lasting approximately 2 hours. Alternatively consider the Tomintoul Circular Walk, which provides excellent views of the surrounding landscape in Tomintoul. You’ll also have the dded chance to spot wader birds during the spring season.

View toward Tomintoul from the foothills of the cairngorm mountains. Ben Rinnes rising in the background.
View toward Tomintoul from the foothills of the Cairngorm mountains.

Afternoon: Head Home

From Tomintoul, head back towards Inverness. It’s a one-hour drive back to Inverness via the A9.

Beautiful view over the Cairngorms National Park.
Beautiful view over the Cairngorms National Park.

Evening: Kingsmills Hotel

After such a busy day exploring the magnificent Cairngorms National Park, it’s back to the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness for some top-notch food in one of our restaurants, and perhaps some after dinner drinks in the Whisky Bar.

Hand holding a whisky glass
Choose from over 100 single malt whiskies at The Kingsmills Whisky Bar.

We hope this Cairngorms National Park road trip itinerary has inspired you. To find out more about things to do during your stay with us, see our Inverness Guide.

Explore the Highlands with the Kingsmills

After a busy day of following our itineraries, head back to the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness and relax. Get in touch to choose your perfect room or give our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1463 257 100 for more information.

Explore Rooms