With the UK government declaring a state of ‘climate emergency’, there is growing concern about taking responsibility as individuals for living sustainably. That includes on holiday.
But what does a sustainable holiday in the Cairngorms actually look and feel like?
Check out this list of top tips that www.visitcairngorms.com has put together.
1) Take the Train
Many find train travel much less stressful, with the added bonus of being able to enjoy the spectacular Highland scenery during the day, or the time-saving gains if you travel by night. Find the right train ticket for you here .
2) Get on yer bike!
Not only is biking good for you, it’s also a fantastic way to see the sights and enjoy the nature. The Cairngorms is brimming with brilliant bike paths such as the Old Logging Way that leads seamlessly from Aviemore up to Loch Morlich.
There are some exceptional bike hire shops in the area with friendly, highly knowledgeable staff, such as Mike’s Bikes in Aviemore. You can also hire the increasingly popular electric bikes, or ‘ebikes’, which cost around £40 for a day or £30 for 3 hours.
3) Stay in Aviemore where all the facilities you need are on your doorstep
Aviemore has all the luxuries and necessities you’ll possibly need on holiday, from eateries to supermarkets to pharmacies, easily accessible by foot and bike. It also has a wealth of diverse, high quality accommodation. For inspiration, see here .
4) Stay in accommodation which is accredited by the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS)
The GTBS has checked out and ranked accommodation on the basis of how sustainable they are, to make it easy for tourists to identify green options, looking at details such as waste management and energy efficiency. There are plenty of eco-friendly hosts in the Cairngorms, see here for our list.
5) Get on the buses!
Some of the major, must-see attractions in the Cairngorms are outwith Aviemore, such as Cairngorm Mountain , Loch Morlich (Glenmore), the Highland Wildlife Park (Kincraig), the Folk Museum (Newtonmore) and Landmark Adventure Park (Carrbridge). Luckily, there is a comprehensive and regular bus service, via Stagecoach, serving all these areas. For example, there is an hourly service to Glenmore, Loch Morlich and Cairngorm Mountain giving access to idyllic forest walks, a unique beach with a mountain backdrop and a bird’s eye view of the entire valley. Plan your journey here .
6) Eat local and enjoy a ‘near beer’!
The Cairngorms prides itself on its delicious local produce, such as its velvety venison, delicious Highland beef and fabulous fudge. Not only is eating local environmentally friendly by reducing carbon footprints, but it also immerses you in the culture of the area and can introduce you to hidden gems you would never know existed if you just stuck to the global chains! For instance, have you ever tried Irn Bru flavour at the Kilted Fudge Company ? Or Ferrero Roche flavoured ice cream at Miele’s Gelateria ? Or awesome Alvie strawberries from Rothiemurchus Estate Farm Shop ?
The valley is also increasingly well known for its craft beers and artisan gins, such as Cairngorm Brewery’s ales and Caorunn Gin made by Balmenach Distillery . Similarly, the Cairngorms has a growing reputation for its heather honeys and local cheeses - to find these and other local produce, check out the area’s local farmers markets which happen in Grantown and Ballater.
7) Go plastic free
Instead of buying single-use bottles while you’re on holiday, why not invest in one that is going to last and remind you of your trip? Alternatively, look out for compostable water bottles which take just a few weeks to biodegrade (plastic bottles can take 450 years!).
Another easy way to avoid the plastic piling up when you’re away is to bring Tupperware containers and reusable shopping bags with you and to say no to disposable straws and cutlery. Bring your own, or look out for increasingly common bamboo variants. (The Rothiemurchus Estate Farm Shop even sells bamboo socks, which would make a great, eco-friendly holiday gift!).
8) Reduce, reuse, recycle
Just because we’re on holiday doesn’t mean we should ditch our good habits. As you would at home, separate your rubbish for recycling then reuse and recycle what you can. Similarly, switch off electrical appliances when you’re not using them, such as lights and air conditioning. Save water when possible too, including not opting for your towels to be washed every day if staying in a hotel or B&B.
9) Rewild your child
Staying in the Cairngorms is the perfect opportunity to educate children about why looking after nature is so important. The more that the next generation grows up with a respect and love for their natural environment, the more they are likely to live sustainably.
10) Leave the beautiful Cairngorms National Park in a better state than you found it
The Cairngorms boasts some of the cleanest air and most beautiful views in the world - let’s ensure it stays this way by always clearing up after us, staying on marked trails as much as possible and never littering. See the Scottish Outdoor Access Code here .
Thank you, and enjoy your sustainable stay!
This blog was written by Cairngorms National Park. ScotRail accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies within this blog.
Image credit: VisitScotland / Damian Shields