Aviemore Area (Scotland)
7 reviews from the community
Review of "Aviemore Area (Scotland)"
The Landmark Forest Heritage Park, on the B9153 near Aviemore, has to be one of the best attractions for the whole family in Scotland. As you’re probably used to reading by now in my ciao opinions, there is no specific category for it, so I have had to put in under 'Aviemore Area' – well I think it fits in quite well here.The Landmark centre is a forest park, situated in a 30 acre natural ancient pine wood, and it aims to both educate and entertain. I’ve been here so many times that I’ve lost count, and have always thoroughly enjoyed it, as have the rest of my family. Unfortunately I can find no up to date prices for this attraction, but I remember it as being fairly pricey last summer – about seven pounds for adults (though in my humble opinion it’s certainly worth it). However, I do recommend that you look in local papers, tourist information offices, and even on the back of some car park tickets, as it’s possible to come across some 2 for 1 offers which cut the cost enormously. There is also the opportunity to buy a family ticket which again will save you some money.
There are various attractions within the park, and I have decided to subdivide this opinion, so that I can write a little on each one.Wild Water Coaster
This is probably the first thing that you’ll see when you enter the park – giant red water slides, which you can go down in a little yellow, rubber boat. There are three of these, one known as the Otter, which is largely in the dark, twisting and curving round, another is the Wildcat, which is much faster, with a double hump that you feel you’re going to fly off of, and finally there is the Falcon, which looks almost vertical! I’m not too keen on this last one, but my Dad and sister love it. Being a bit of a wuss, I prefer the other two, especially the Otter. Queues are generally quite short, and the ride is very safe, with trained staff at the top to supervise the loading of the boats which each hold two adults or three children.
The Adventure Playground
This is for children of all ages, and those who are still young at heart! There’s a fantastic assault course with rope swings, tunnels, three wire bridges, logs to balance on, and much more. Mum and I usually prefer to take photos of the others on this – we’re not the most active of people! Still, everyone who takes part in it always looks as if they’re having fun. There is also a tube slide, and various climbing activities in the playground – all made out of thick natural wood. One part of the playground is specifically for the under 5s, so they don’t feel left out whilst their older siblings are having fun.
This used to be my favourite part of the Landmark. It’s not a traditional hedge maze, but with wooden slatted paths – and it is a lot trickier than it looks! As you wander along, there are also some surprises… although I’m not telling you what they are…and when you reach the middle, you go up on to a viewing platform, which is designed as if it was an eagle’s nest. It’s always quite amusing to look down on those who are still lost in the maze!
The Fire Tower
Climb up the many, many wooden steps (105!) of this tall structure for absolutely fantastic views across the area – towards the Cairngorm mountains for example. This is the tallest timber tower in the country but the views make up for the long climb up. Telescopes on the viewing platform allow you to see even further, and if you take a camera, you’ll get some great photographs. This is not however something I’d want to go up if the weather was windy – whilst it is certainly very solid, I think I’d feel a bit uneasy at the top!
The Tree Top Trail
I always have great difficulty saying this – it usually comes out as Tree Trop Trail, lucky I’m only writing it here then! This is one of the best bits of the park, as it is a wooden walkway which literally climbs up between the tops of the trees. Not recommended for those who don’t like heights, but you get a great view of the forest from a different angle to usual, and may also see some wildlife from this vantage point. Try to keep as quiet as possible when walking along here and chances are you will see much more – red squirrels and local birds for example. There are viewpoints and information boards along the trail, and this, as well as being enjoyable, also has an educational aspect. Inhale deeply when you’re up here, and you’ll smell the gorgeous scent of the pine trees.
The Nature Trail
If you don’t like heights, don’t despair, as there’s also a nature trail on the ground, taking you on a walk round the forest, where trees have been growing for over 10,000 years. Like the maze, you follow a slatted wooden trail, although there’s only one choice of route to take here! Along the way you will come across information points, which are on wooden display boards – you need to lift them up to read the well presented information underneath. Near the rowan trees for example, there is information about the actual tree itself, and also the fact that they were planted to keep witches at bay! Other interesting features on the trail are pointed out to you, such as the scar round a tree hit by lightning, the type of wildlife you might see, and some historical and geographical background. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a red squirrel, as we did on our last visit. If you look on the ground, you’ll see the remains of the pine cones that they’ve eaten – so you’ll know if there have been any about.
A relatively new attraction, and one which is inside, this allows you to get up close to bugs and insects! And I mean close – the emphasis here is on magnification, so that you can see them in great detail. It’s not only bugs that you see however, but magnification of many natural objects – human hair for example. Some of the exhibits in here are interactive, and be prepared for a few surprises! I won’t tell you what these are, as that would spoil your fun – and you will certainly have a lot of fun in here! The idea behind microworld appears to be learning through enjoyment – by participating in the various interactive games and experiments, you will be learning without even realising. It makes great use of computer technology, which is a contrast to the rest of the park.
Here, there are many activities and exhibitions about the actual use of the forest wood. For example, there is a steam powered sawmill (the only working one in Britain) where you can watch the logs being sawn. Nearby is Lex, the Clydesdale horse, who is absolutely massive, and who hauls the logs along to the mill. There are also recreations of the bothies where the firemen and workers would live, and an exhibition where you can discover the history and background of the men and machines who worked in the forestry industry in Scotland.
Finally in this area, you get the chance to try out some activities for yourself – my sister and I once had a go at sawing a log using a two man cross saw for instance. (We were also given the bit of log to take home – and I think many years after the event, my parents still have it in their airing cupboard where we put it to dry out!)
General points and advice:
· Try to visit on a sunny day! Pretty much everything here is outside, so you don’t want the trip spoiled by bad weather.
· Bring a spare change of clothes for children – it’s all too easy to fall into the mud as my sister and I know only too well from our younger days. You can get very wet on the wild water coasters too!
· Take a picnic. They do sell food here, but the restaurant can be busy during the day, and the snack bar doesn’t sell the most healthy of food. When you buy your ticket, you get your hand stamped, so it’s possible to go back to the car and get your food – saves you carrying it round all day and will save money too. There are picnic tables in the car park, but there’s a little car park a couple of miles down the road which is much less crowded and is where we usually eat.
· Don’t despair if you see lots of cars in the car park. There are so many things to do here that the visitors are normally spread fairly well between the attractions – even in the height of summer we’ve had no real problems with the number of other visitors and have been able to spend plenty of time doing what we wanted.
· Finally, bring some extra money for the shop – it sells a fantastic range of unusual craft items, ornaments, jewellery, books and things for children, and is ideal for buying holiday souvenirs either for yourself or those back home.
Overall then, this is an absolutely fantastic place to visit, well worth going to if you’re in the area. There’s plenty to do, a brilliant mixture of fun and education, and something for everyone. A safe place for children to let off steam and a great introduction to Scottish nature and wildlife. I would give it more than five stars if I could!
Product Information : Aviemore Area (Scotland)
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Listed on Ciao since: 26/07/2000