Wednesday 19 July 2023

Scotland By Rail - Aviemore - Rothiemurchus forest

A Scotland By Rail trip to Aviemore.

This blog post doesn't explore the town itself but travels straight out to Rothiemurchus forest at Coylumbridge for wildlife, walking in prime Scottish native woodland, mountain views.

I live in Burntisland and the journey north from here to Aviemore is so good. (Even better from Edinburgh as you get to go over the Forth Rail Bridge) The gorgeous Fife coast, Lomond Hills, views across the River Tay, Perth, Dunkeld, Pitlochry, through/over the Drumochter Pass - the highest point on the UK mainline rail network at 1,484ft. Through Kingussie, past Ruthven Barracks, Loch Insh. Then arrive into Aviemore. If you're lucky a Strathspey Steam Railway steam locomotive will be there to meet you, sharing the lovely wooden chalet-style station with ScotRail and other operators.

Once you're in Aviemore you can easily get to our walk start spot - buses leave Aviemore hourly and the journey is only a few minutes. Get off in Coylumbridge and you're pretty much in the Rothiemurchus forest. We took the Glen Einich track which starts on the west side of a small woodland campsite. Or you could walk to here from Aviemore station, an approx 3km walk, not quite two miles, pavement all the way.

We spent the afternoon in the forest, just walking there and back along a main footpath.

Scots pine, ash, silver birch, rowan...

At a small lochan we watched a pair of common sandpipers and their full-size but still slightly fluffy youngster. We sat near to the lochan and watched them do their stuff. I took shaky videos including the young one among the grasses. At one point one of the adults perched in the branches of a Scots pine - listen to the sound on that video and you can hear the sandpiper's call.

listen to the call in this one

We watched a young bullfinch, a young robin, a young wren, young long-tailed tits. We heard and saw a great spotted woodpecker and a crossbill as they flew (separately) over our heads. Willow warblers sang loudly in quite a few places. We saw lots of moths and once there was the flicker of a lizard as it darted off a lichen covered rock.

We watched a wood ant slowly and jerkily pull along a metallic blue beetle, dead, many times the ant's own size and weight. A bit later we stopped at a wood ant nest, the whole large brown rounded mound alive with movement.

We looked at orchids and other flowers all alongside the track. We ate from the blaeberries which were growing in great numbers amongst the heather. Juniper lined our route a lot of the way.

An is-it-a-golden eagle quickly became a buzzard. For that first moment its wingtips had looked so long and spread, then it mewed and became the buzzard that it really was

One of our stops was looking over open land - pine and other native trees regenerating rapidly thanks to deer being fenced out. Imagine if we had wolves back here, doing it naturally.

I worked in soft pastel looking looking over the open land and past the pine tops to the exciting jagged sheer scree of the Lairig Ghru.

Many thanks to Maurizio De Vita Photography & Storytelling for the photo of me working.


Aviemore station is easy to reach by rail from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Inverness...

Check before your journey at

Thank you for reading my Scotland By Rail blog.

Spread the word and let me know about your own favourite railway days out.

Leo du Feu
ScotRail Community Rail Champion
July 2023

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