Loch an Eilein

Loch an Eilein

This wee loch, 3 miles south of Aviemore, is reputedly Scotland's most popular picnic spot – but when we were there it was as still as a winter dawn, with just one giggling family enjoying the outdoor air along its shores. A picturesque puddle in the arms of the Rothiemurchus Forest Conservation Area, the loch boasts an atmospheric ruined castle on a little island not far from the information centre. The island was once connected to the shore by a land bridge, but the water level rose and now its so-near-but-so-far inaccessibility makes it all the more mysterious and alluring. The 15th-century castle was once the property of the infamous Alexander Stewart, AKA the 'Wolf of Badenoch', but now it forms a perfect refuge for the many birds that live here (until recently it was home to one of the last surviving osprey eeries in Scotland). Rob Roy was another famous visitor. He apparently used Loch an Eilein during his cattle rustling activities, and one side of the loch is called 'Robbers Way'. With the peaks of the Cairngorms forming a beautiful backdrop, a 4.5-mile trail loops the loch, and other tracks lead off through the woods into the heart of the Cairngorms towards Loch Gamhna, Loch Morlich and the Larig Ghru (the famous pass that cleaves through the Cairngorms) that you can either walk or cycle. 

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