Every morning we could watch a male pheasant trying to impress a female pheasant balancing on the fence at the back of a cottage we were renting out for our week in Scotland. In the evening you could even spot a young deer slowly appearing with a settling dust for his evening meal, feeling safer in fading sunset, leaving secure haven of the nearby woods. The cottage and its location was everything you could ask for after busy day – quiet and lovely surroundings, beautiful sunset and long evenings in front of a fireplace.
Scotland is the best place I know for calming your senses. But do not stop at Edinburgh – go further, towards Invarness, Aviemore, to discover more amazing landscapes and hidden gems. Going further will give you a real taste for Scottish wilderness, its incredible relationships with mankind. In here you can truly understand how people can live in a harmony with nature without breaking it and destroying.
As we were staying in the middle of this part of the United Kingdom, we could travel around quite nicely, we could visit Edinburgh and Glasgow, do the whisky trail and take advantage of taking a steam railway! And believe me – it is fun for everyone, regardless the age!
Strathspey Steam Railway has a quite incredible history – the idea for the line, which was opened in 1863, came from local landowners, who felt the need to promote construction of it and wanted to connect Perth with Invarness via Aviemore, Grantown and Forres. In 1865 Highland Railway Company took over operating these routes and in 1898 direct line from Aviemore to Invarness, via Carrbridge was opened, leaving the line through Grantown-on-Spey as a secondary route.
The 20th Century delivered few major events such as nationalisation of all UK lines to become British Railways in 1948, withdrawn of passenger service on the Aviemore – Grantown – Forres line in 1965 and final closure in 1968.
In 1971 the Strathspey Railway Company came into existence. A year later the Strathspey Railway Association – voluntary supporting group – was created. The Company purchased the line from Aviemore to Grantown from British Rail in 1972 and after much needed renovation and restoration the line from Aviemore to Boat of Garent came to live again in 1978.
The inside of the train reminds unchanged and allows you to move in time. Finding yourself inside the train and looking through windows, catching the signs of steam coming out of the locomotive at the front, waiving to friendly people enjoying the view of old steam train was a highlight of our day in Aviemore.
You can take a morning train from Aviemore to Boat of Garten and explore its lovely soundings or you can stay on a train and enjoy the whole trip in one go. The train will take you through Cairngorms National Park and you will be able to discover and admire stunning views along the way.
The whole journey is 9 and a half miles and starts in Aviemore on platform 3. Aviemore is located in the heart of Monadhliath and Cairngorm Mountains – a great area for any outdoors lovers! The line will take you through modern architecture of the town first and then you will decent into moores and woodlands alongside River Spy. Next station will be Boat!
Boat of Garten, also known as The Osprey Village, has its own Golf Club, built by locals and railwaymen. There is RSPB observation which is worth a shot in Summer if you want to see Ospreys coming back from Africa.
And then another 5 miles of glorious views taking you to Broomhill Station – the forests in here offer diversity of wildlife and nature lovers can really appreciate it!
Steam rail is an amazing glimpse into the past, taking you to your childhood, or providing the best memories for the times you were traveling with your mum on a train towards seaside (like I and my sister did) or to your family. Slow pace, calmness and beautiful views – you do not need anything else for a chill-out day!