Westcott is our newest lodge, a gorgeous, spacious Edwardian villa which sleeps 6, and excitingly our first in the village of Kingussie. This great little village is a brilliant base for adventurers, sporty families and lovers of great food and drink. Mix and match from some of the fantastic local activities and attractions below for a Highlands summer holiday where everyone comes home happy!
Laggan Wolftrax (25 minutes drive from Westcott)
This mountain bike trail centre features over 20 miles of purpose-built trails, from easy greens up to extremely tricky blacks. Access roads lead upwards through the forest, and at the top you get the most amazing views, as well as the fun of the descent! For more experienced riders, try the natural trails over the other side of the road. There’s a bike shop for sales and rentals, plus a friendly cafe which sells delicious coffees, hot meals and home baking. Good to know: There are also hot showers available for a small charge in case you get just too muddy to get back into the car!
If your family is happier spending time on four hooves than on two wheels, why not book a pony trek at Highland Horse Fun, just around the corner from Westcott in Kingussie? Treks last from an hour up to a full day and are a great way to see the Cairngorm landscape at a leisurely pace on their lovely Highland ponies. If you are a more experienced rider, hacks are also possible. 01540 760000
Highland Folk Museum (5 minutes drive from Westcott)
Incredibly, this fascinating open air museum is free of charge - and you could easily spend a whole day here. The 18th century township is a real magnet for Outlander fans, as some of the early episodes were actually filmed here! There are reconstructed heritage buildings - some of which are staffed with museum employees in full vintage costume and in character - watch out for the strict Victorian schoolmaster - he doesn’t like latecomers or messy handwriting! The 1930s sweet shop is always top of the list for younger visitors, where they can buy a small paper bag of sweets from the assorted jars of traditional favourites such as Soor Plooms or Liquorice Comfits - and there’s a great play park here too. Open 7 days a week April-October.
Highland Wildlife Park (10 minutes drive from Westcott)
Another favourite with young visitors, the RZSS Highland Wildlife Park is home to a huge selection of animals from sub-arctic climates, including the pair of polar bears and their famous cub Hamish - the first polar bear to be born in the UK in 25 years. You can enjoy a drive around the safari park amongst some of the larger animals like camel and bison, and then walk around all the enclosures for a closer look. Big cat fans in particular will love the Amur Tiger and the two beautiful Snow Leopards.
Loch Insh Outdoor Centre (10 minutes drive from Westcott)
There is a huge array of watersports (and some land-based ones too) on offer at Loch Insh. You can try your hand at paddle boarding, sailing, windsurfing, open Canadian canoeing, fishing, river trips, rowing and raft building. For most activities you can choose from group or private lessons, a short course, or hire of boats and equipment if you are already competent. On land you can also have a go at archery, guided mountain biking and skiing or snowboarding on the dry slope. You’re sure to work up a hearty appetite on the water, and luckily their Boathouse restaurant serves breakfast 8-10am, home baking and coffee from 10am, lunch 12-4pm and evening meals 5-8pm. Children as young as 4 can take part in Loch Insh’s private tuition - there are also two great little play parks there.
In fact Loch Insh would make an ideal place for the kids to enjoy a couple of hours of healthy outdoor fun whilst you enjoy treats of a more grown up variety. What about a wonderful three course lunch, or even an artisan baking lesson under the tutelage of a traditionally-trained French chef?
The Cross, Kingussie
This exceptional award-winning restaurant is certainly one of the best and smartest places to eat in the area and offers a three course menu at £30 with three choices at each course. If you prefer to book for dinner you can choose from either a three-course a la carte (£55) or their six-course signature tasting menu (£65, or with 4 matching wines £95). Their menus change regularly and are designed around the best of seasonal and locally sourced produce. Booking is essential on 01540 661166
The Auld Alliance, Kingussie
Gastronomes should definitely try to book a table at this well-kept Kingussie secret! Provencal chef Lydie Bocquillon was trained in Burgundy, the home of French gastronomy, with some of France’s most renowned chefs. Having previously worked in France, England and Switzerland and as a food stylist for British TV, you’ll often see her these days as a guest chef on BBC’s Kitchen Cafe. The set menu at The Auld Alliance changes each day and is matched with an all-French wine list chosen by Lydie. The restaurant is open Wednesday to Saturday from 7pm till late, and on other days by arrangement. Lydie also holds artisan bread making classes from 11-4pm on Thursdays and Sundays out of season; £55 per person including a light lunch. 01540 661506 Note: The Auld Alliance will only be open as a restaurant until the end of 2018, after which it will be offering culinary classes and catering only. So book a table whilst you can!
Hopefully all of that has whetted your appetite for food, drink and some of the best outdoor activities close by our great new lodge Westcott. Get in touch with us today to book your family break and start planning a truly amazing Cairngorms holiday!