Scotland Tour: Dusk drive high into the Cairngorms

It started on Burns Night 2019 – a family promise that we would definitely tour Scotland this year.

My husband was raised in England though is actually Scottish, our children are therefore half-Scottish and in the late 1800s my ancestors on my father’s side lived in Scotland too.  We definitely felt the mountains calling.

In early spring, during the Easter break, we suddenly decided – lets do it!  We found some last minute bookings and off we went, in our electric car (not knowing how reliable the chargers would be in the Highlands), with five children (including two sons with profound autism and our seven month old baby daughter), before we had time to convince ourselves otherwise.

Our first stop would be in Aviemore, in the Cairngorm National Park, where we had been able to get a booking 48 hours earlier at the Macdonald Highland Resort.  To make sure the long day of travel still felt like a special holiday event, we chose to take the scenic route.

Do you know that child-like feeling when you are driving to the seaside and you get your first glimpse of the ocean?  Suddenly we spotted our first snowy peak and it was just the same excited buzz from everyone in our car.

Living in the very centre of England, there are two things we really crave – a glimpse of ocean and snowfall.  We wondered how close we might be able to get to the top of the mountains.

After the briefest tantalising glimpse of snow-capped summits, the route dipped downwards, and we journeyed alongside rivers, watching them wind their way through the valleys.

The sun even made a brief appearance before dusk fell, glinting off rushing waterfalls, swollen with the run off from melting ice and snow.

As the light started to fade, the road once again started to climb.

At a scenic viewing spot at the very highest point, we were able to park up and safely get out of the car for the briefest snowball fight … but the fog was descending, the temperature was steadily dropping and we needed to get moving.

Just before dark we arrived at Aviemore and were delighted to find the town lit up all the way down the main thoroughfare with twinkling white fairy lights.  It seemed very welcoming to seven weary travellers who had spent a full day travelling North.


    1. I checked them out just now 😀 You’ll never believe it but your photo of the multicoloured shops in Old Town from the 1st story walkway? They’d have been an old door behind you whilst you took the shot – and that’s the doorway to the flat we stayed in just a few weeks before 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I loved Scotland when I was there in 1976, 1978/79. I love the moors and treeless landscape which was so different to my own in Australia. Loved the people and little villages too. We (2 friends and I) stayed in 2 different castle youth hostels which were fabulous. Hopefully my ‘follow’ sign-up worked (3rd try) and I can enjoy the rest of your journey with you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I totally get what you mean about the rugged landscape. I live in the centre of England in the middle of an ancient forest – I’m so used to trees everywhere … and completely fell in love with all the treeless, stark, heather covered mountains in the North West 🏔

      If the follow doesn’t work (but fingers crossed it does!) I post every other day at 6pm GMT 😃 I hope you’ll be back

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much – my family love reading your blog, so we were all made up to see your comment on ours.

      When we first got the EV, it was five years ago, quite rare and people were always coming up to us to ask about it (we never minded) … but now, wonderfully, it’s really taking off.


  2. Some of my favourite countryside. The light always changing and something new around every bend and on the horizon..
    Lovely photos, We have travelled up to Scotland and the Highlands for many years, Last year we went exploring Wales for a change… But nothing beats these views even on a damp misty day… The Cairngorms hold a magic of their own.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We love Wales but charging our Electric car was so difficult in Snowdonia …. Scotland is amazingly supportive and we had no trouble at all, not even in the far north west.

      I’d love to go back and explore the Islands, and see the South West … and The Borders. We spent over half a month up there last year, but it wasn’t long enough ♥️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a pleasant little windscreen tour of the area. I was familiar with the Cairngorm Mountains from reading Nan Shepherd’s book, “The Living Mountain.” It was very nice to see images of what she had represented so wonderfully in word.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad 🙂 The book we took was the very old “Black’s Guide to Scotland” – I’ll definitely look up “The Living Mountain” (being a librarian, I cannot resist a book recommendation) 🙂


      1. I have a bit of a thing for travelling with books – especially really old tourist books or fiction from hundreds of years ago. I’m whimsical and it makes me feel like I’m stepping into a story 🙂 Definitely recommend the Blacks book – it has all the old fashioned Victorian tours in it, that used to be done by coach and horses.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A beautiful road trip! Scotland is calling our names as well!

    Oh! And I should add that the second part of our tour will be published at 6pm tonight (22/01/20) 🌿 I’ve just finished writing it! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! I’ve just finished the next Scotland post – Loch Ness to Nairn (up tonight 6pm 22/01) – which took hours as we got very nostalgic picking through all of the photographs 🙂 I hope to get back there very soon, there was so much we didn’t get to see and I’m longing to hike those mountains and travel on the Aviemore train.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry – these photos are from Easter time – and I remember there was a period of very heavy snow in the weeks leading up to our trip because we were a bit relieved when the weather cleared just before we left (with five children in tow, two with special needs and a baby! ♥️)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I absolutely LOVE you and your sweet family, and the fact that your autistic boys are an integral part of your life and you did not try to hide them away. I worked with autistic children at a substitute paraeducator/aide/teacher for more than 15 years and the children have been the joy and love of my life. Many of mine had physical challenges as well, and most all of them were fairly severe and all types of autism. I am a freelance mentor/advocate/tutor for children and adults as well. I elected never to become a permanent teacher because I don’t want to be tied up with all of those meetings and reports, but rather to see what quality and joy can be brought into the heart and mind of every single child or adult.

    I think you and your husband are the most wonderful people for giving all of your children this wealth of seeing/learning/experiencing things that all children should receive in this life. The most important thing is that they all need to experience the world in all its glory and to be loved by their family and an integral part of it every day and you are doing that. What an absolute joy to meet you with your lovely big family and your special needs boys and your baby too. My goodness, what an unexpected joy! I live on the other side of the pond, and I am very much aware of and follow the latest innovative treatments for autistic children. One woman who has had a lot of success gives her two boys a choice of two things and she does it quickly, for their minds seem able to distinguish between the two things. For example, Do you want Cheerios or Corn Puffs? They can quickly make simple choices and then you can move to a little more difficult choices: Do you want the red book or the blue book? You may know all of these things already. I bet the two of you are wonderful parents and how wonderful for you to give ALL of your children special trips, etc. Every child, regardless of the level, needs stimulation from a variety of environments, all while in the safety of the family they know and love. Thank you for this joyful encounter. I am 78 now, and I will be following your posts, though I might not always get to responding. I am caregiver for my husband and I have my own challenges too so I appreciate hearing the stories of other people and what they are doing in their own lives with their own challenges. This gives me new-found hope. Peace and blessings for all of you, Anne always


    1. Hello Anne, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a lovely long message – we were very moved and I read it out to everyone 🙂 It’s especially heartening as it took me a long time to write about our family, since I didn’t want to write a full-on autism blog (that’s my day job and our experience only makes me an expert in my own children’s autism, not the condition itself 🙂 ) but I cannot write about my family without talking about how autism affects how we go about things. I hope I have struck a balance, and that the blog is a happy, joyful place, without sidestepping the difficulties.

      Funnily enough, the first word we worked on was “choose” with our two children. Learning that they could have control, and could make choices in their life, was a really important starting point for helping them to cope with bigger issues later on.

      Our two autistic children are profoundly autistic, physically and mentally – but we find it’s never insurmountable with enough will and a bit of optimism.

      I have absolute respect and admiration for you, working with special needs children as a career choice, and now looking after your husband – what a wonderful, caring, compassionate and above all, patient, lady you must be x


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