If you like trees – seriously like trees – then Rothiemurchus campsite is the type of spot you might go to and never want to come back from. It’s one of the best places in Scotland to enjoy swathes of indigenous Caledonian woodland, with a flurry of forests and wood-shrouded lochs. There is a real sense of being somewhere genuinely unspoilt and pristine here.
The award-winning campsite is set within the boundaries of the Rothiemurchus Estate, which itself lies right on the edge of the remarkable Cairngorm Mountain massif, the vast mountain plateau that was recently designated the UK’s largest national park.
You can choose from the main pitches, where you will see other tents and be close to the amenities, or you can head across one of the burns that rumble through the camp. It is a sublime experience waking up on a bed of soft needles on a summer morning to the sound of rushing water with the smell of pine spiking the crisp air.
The Grant family has held the stewardship of the estate for over 400 years to the present day and its members have proved enlightened landowners, opening up the land for walkers, cyclists and tree lovers. Scotland’s lingering feudal land ownership attracts its share of controversy, but Rothiemurchus is the type of inclusive estate that the Land Reform Act of 2003 was designed to encourage.
You can hire bikes from nearby and meander around the myriad paths, with an easy circular route taking in the twin lochs of Morlich and Loch an Eilein. The latter is one of the prettiest in the country with a ruined castle sitting in the middle of the water and beaches fringing its edges. There are some more serious routes up past the outdoor activity centre at Glenmore that stretch into the mountains on old drovers’ trails opening up remote lochs and isolated bothies.
If that’s all a bit too adventurous, just climb aboard the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, the funky funicular railroad that eases up the mountainside revealing stupendous views with minimal effort. Be aware, though, that funicular users cannot walk on up to the summit.
Rothiemurchus is the sort of site that ticks so many different boxes. Forest camping at its finest, it works for those looking to get away from it all, those wanting to explore this enchanting place by bike or those who fancy a walk off into the challenging Cairngorm Mountains. And did we mention all the beautiful trees?
Several woodland and riverside pitches plus 1 on an island. 17 hardstandings for the caravans in a separate area. There’s a keycard-operated amenity block with hot showers, toilets, dishwashing area and laundry.
Tents, tourers, caravans – yes. Dogs – no (except in caravans).
The wonderful Cairngorm Reindeer Centre (01479 861228) is a short drive away, where under the supervision of trained staff, you can feed, stroke and walk amongst these friendly animals. Situated in the centre of the Cairngorm National Park, visitors follow the herder up to the mountain enclosure, where beautiful mountain views can also be enjoyed. Archery, hiking, canoeing and more at the Rothiemurchus Centre (01479 812345). Near Aviemore, the Macdonald Highland Resort has swimming pools and restaurants. Rothiemurchus Forest is yours to explore and enjoy. Glenmore Lodge (01479 861256) is a serious outdoor activity centre with a particular emphasis on climbing and mountaineering, being handy for the Cairngorms and some of Britain’s finest ice-climbing, as well as plenty of summer routes. Novices can either seek advice from the centre or enrol on one of its frequently run courses. Ace Adventure (0330 555 0313) are a specialist White water rafting and outdoor activities provider, based near Aviemore. Jim and the team cater for a wide range of activities; from high adrenaline thrills to relaxed wilderness and wildlife experiences.
Food & DrinkThe Old Bridge Inn (01479 811137) is only 2 miles away on the road to Aviemore. This atmospheric old inn, with a fine log fire, specialises in local dishes such as peppered leg of venison, with plenty of whiskies and real ales on hand to wash it down. Mains are £12–16, though, so eating’s not cheap.
Opening TimesAll year (except November).
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Rated ★★★★★ over 12 reviews
The best facilities of any campsite in Scotland!
Fabulous location tucked away in the trees next to a flowing stream. It's close to Aviemore and all the amenities you could wish to use there but you do have to drive otherwise you would have a long walk down an unlit road. We camped on the island and it was really lovely to wake up to the sound of the stream every morning. The showers, toilets and washing up areas are the best at any campsite we have ever visited - lovely and warm, very clean and modern, well maintained, spacious and secure (accessed via key card). The staff are lovely, really friendly and helpful, particularly when, on our first night there, one of our tent poles snapped. The lady who was on reception at the time managed to find a cable tie and some tape and, with a bit of ingenuity, we managed to fashion a repair which kept our tent aloft for our three night stay! The only negative is the masses of midges - they were so aggressive and troublesome despite it being mid September - but try not to let that put you off. We would highly recommend the campsite and would love to return ourselves but maybe in a camper van next time rather than a tent to avoid getting bitten so much!
Fab for families
I've been here for a family camping trip twice now and we've had an amazing time on both occasions. My kids are 5 and 8 and love to be camped amongst the trees with easy access to the river and smaller streams. When they were younger this would probably have caused a bit of anxiety but it's great to see them play the now.
The shower block is very well maintained and modern.
There is great access to the local mountain bike tracks which is the big attraction for us. My kids view the Rothiemurchus estate as somewhere to go for adventure. There are varied options depending on your expertise and stamina but there's enough to do to make you want to keep coming back.
The site is 2 miles approx from aviemore, easy enough on a bike and the track takes you past the Old Bridge Inn, which is a fine pub.
Also we've seen red squirrels both times we've been there and a mind boggling assortment of wild fungi. It's great for a bit of exposure to the wild, with the luxury of a good shower at the end of the day.
Fantastic campsite in an outstanding area of Scotland
We stayed at this campsite in the summer and had an amazing time. The site itself feels very private due the spread of trees and our children loved the fact that we were staying in a 'forest'. The facilities were excellent and child friendly. The location of the site was amazing as well with cycle paths nearby as well as a multitude of outdoor activities from horse riding to canoeing. Aviemore is a great tourist town with plenty to do, shops for all you will need during your stay as well as some nice places to eat. The train station means that its easy to get around for the day without having to drive. Stunning scenery, fantastic outdoor pursuits and a lovely campsite....
Under the old Scot's Pines
Rothiemurchus campsite is just two miles outside Aviemore. I phone ahead and booked a pitch for our van and was glad I did because we got the last one and they were turning vans away at the gate. The site is set in the old Caledonian pine forest with pitches located in nooks and crannies giving the impression of exclusivity to the woods. The park felt secure with kids cycling their bikes round the one way system and a burn gurgling over a small rise just by our pitch. The toilets and showers, accessed by key fob, were in pristine condition. In the morning as we ate breakfast al fresco, the site owner offered us another, better pitch; he had an early leaver, but we were settled and decided to stay put. We cycled into the wilds (Loch Einich) straight from the campsite, did a spot of geocaching, then cycled to the pub when the day was done. Great for families, hill lovers and nature lovers. Good recycling too.
We camped here as a family, just at the side of one of the streams. Magical. Organised many activities for our boys ranging from tennis to treetop climbing trail to canoeing to clay pigeon shooting to horseback riding - it was great to be able to do so much together within such a short distance of where we were based. Exceptionally amenable hosts and beautifully laid out. Easy drive into Aviemore for absolutely anything needed. Highly recommended!
A quiet spot by the river
I have to say this is one of the best campsites we have been in for ages. We managed to pitch our tent right next to the river. They don't allow too many tents to there is no chance of overcrowding. We even saw a red squirrel while we were here. It is so peaceful, just the sound of the River and the birds to keep you company.
Wild camping with a bathroom!
I loved this campsite, it's so lovely here amongst the trees, with a real feeling of privacy and wilderness - although there are amazing bathroom facilities just around the corner. Our tent is pretty big, but we still managed to squeeze between the trees on the island and loved going to sleep to the sound of the rushing water.
The only downsides I would say is that there is no shop to pick up any bits you have forgotten and the nearest pub is a fairly long walk away (unless you count the Hilton bar, which was OK), though The Old Bridge Inn is worth the walk.
There are lots of local walks in the area and just about any outdoor activity you could want is available on the estate or close by.
Stunning and friendly
On our arrival Val checked us in and was instantly friendly. We later met her husband Hugh, who was equally friendly and energetic about the campsite. If you are into Pine forests and natural running streams this is a place for you! We found this was the first instance where money did not take priority over the campers comfort. There were many evenings where more tents could have been pitched but the sign on reception said campsite full. They even have a mosquito repellent machine which warns off the mosquitoes. This worked for us at 25 degrees, by the waters edge.
If you want your camera/ phone charged this was not a problem free of charge. Hugh even asked if I wanted to use my hair dryer he would open the cupboard with a power point in the shower block for me. On the subject of shower blocks, imagine a clean and modern environment with on suite facilities. Hot water with plenty of pressure. Overall an amazing stay and beautiful campsite.
Many Thanks from Ash and Jen
Rothiemurchus Camp Site
This is a brilliant site, its what camping is about, you pitch your tent under and amongst the trees, if your luck (or unlucky on a rainy night) to pitch next to the river! Its not posh but its enjoyable. If you do go, make sure you have a decent groundsheet, not all areas are grass, mostly its pine needles haha
The staff are lovely, (although they are a friend of a friend) they still help and are welcoming and fully understood why we left a night early due to the constant rain!
The toilet blocks are ones that we constantly compare to and tough to beat, in one cubicle, you have your shower, toilet, sink and mirror, great for when its cold and wet out, you can clean off and wash down and keep that way till your in your clean dry clothes! But watch when opening the shower door after your bathed, it drips over the floor!! small issue.
the surrounding area is beautiful, Rothiemurchus Estate is always worth the effort, such a stunning place and great for walks and photographing, always inspiration about.
All in all, we are going back again, but will choose better weather if possible (i know, it is Scotland after all!)
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