Avielochan Holidays with Wendy & Tor Södergren

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Set in the Cairngorms National Park, and only a few minutes’ drive from Aviemore, a cosy cottage on a hillside is the perfect place to escape to if you crave a hug from everything nature has to offer.

Over the past 34 years, Wendy and Tor Södergren have stayed in all four of our holiday accommodations. In earlier years they stayed in The Hide with their children, Lochside Cottage with their sister and brother-in-law who would join them from Shetland, The Croft over the years, and now they choose Hill View Cottage, where they hope to be holidaying again this year with their son and daughter-in-law and their wee pug.

“We’re so lucky we managed to squeeze in our annual visit to Avielochan last August – it has a very special place in our hearts and gives us direct access to the outside world that we love so much.”

– Wendy Södergren

Wendy and Tor in front of a tall block of snow.

I had a wee chat with Wendy to find out what it is that she and her family love so much about Avielochan and the surrounding area.

Where do you stay when you visit Avielochan?

We’ve stayed in all four of the properties at Avielochan Cottages. These days, we choose Hill View Cottage. It is a three-bedroomed, rural holiday cottage that sits on a hill overlooking Avielochan – a stunning wee loch – the green farmlands surrounding it and the Cairngorm mountains beyond that. It is well positioned for exploring the Cairngorms National Park and the Scottish Highlands.

The cottage lacks nothing. In fact, Fiona and Ronald provide everything you have at home and more, including welcoming treats such as a vase of flowers or some biscuits – sometimes we’re even treated to some home-baking on arrival. And on a dreich day… they even supply books, jigsaws and board games.

Large enough for 6 people, Hill View has a large living-room with wood-burning stove – for comfy evening chats, a kitchen-dining room to enjoy meals together, and a Boot Room – equipped with a couple of chairs, where you can sit with your morning coffee watching the birds and rabbits.

What do you eat when you're here? Do you eat in at the cottage, or have favourite places to visit?

We often walk from Avielochan to Boat of Garten along the Speyside Way. There is a great wee village shop and Post Office there that offers a splendid selection for lunch – from hot pastries and cold filled rolls to sweet treats and fruit and takeaway hot chocolates and coffee.

Smiffy’s fish & chips shop in Aviemore is a place we like to go with the rest of the family. Sometimes we take away, but quite often we sit in and watch the world go by as we’re eating. What can possibly beat good old fish ‘n’ chips?!

The Cairngorm Hotel is another regular spot for us – it has a superb menu for pensioners. It’s always busy, and you can’t book in advance, but it’s always worth it – even if you have to wait a wee while for a seat.

What do you like to do when you are here?

In years gone by, Tor used to pop over to The Croft to see Mrs Macdonald for a permit, and took to the loch to do some fly-fishing. These days, I believe you can book in for fishing lessons with Jim Cornfoot – but it’s something we’ve not done for many years. Mrs Macdonald used to keep chickens and she used to let our boys feed them. It was the highlight of their holidays – we often had to stop whatever ever we were doing because it was time to go back and feed the chickens and find the eggs!

We sponsor two of the Cairngorm Reindeer herd, and have done for fourteen years, so the reindeer centre at Glenmore is always on our itinerary. We park near the Norwegian memorial (a reminder of Tor’s roots) and we walk up to the paddock to see which of the reindeer are in residence. We also enjoy hiking out from the Sugar Bowl to see them on the hill.

We’ve followed tracks and trails in most areas of Badenoch and Strathspey now and just love visiting the beautiful lochs – there’s just something about the water, the stillness, the tranquilty. Notably, Loch an Eilean on the Rothiemurchus Estate, the walk up to Ryvoan Bothy past the Green Loch (where the fairies do their washing), Loch Garten, Loch Mallachie and Loch Pityoulish to name but a few.

Later in the year, near Loch Garten, there is a wee patch near large sheds that has a long feeder for the birds. If you take seeds with you, and stand quietly, the birds will fly straight into your hands to feed. The crested tits are too scared, but there are so many coal tits. It’s a fantastic experience.

Tell us something else that you love about the area

Avielochan is home to so many birds and animals. I can remember holidays where the osprey would fly over the loch at around 8 o’clock every evening looking to catch his tea. We’ve also caught site of many a deer as well as the rare, and very shy, Slavonian Grebe.

 

We’ve been lucky enough to stay at Avielochan in all seasons and lambing season remains a highlight. From Hill View you can see Fiona and Ronald going off to feed the lambs – I’ve often had a peep into the barn too. It’s just nice to see and hear the cows, sheep, hens and Tom Jones (the duck).

In the days when Tor smoked a pipe, he loved to stand outside at night and look up to the cloudless sky to see masses of stars. That’s not something we get to see much of living in the city.

The best bit...

Turning off the A9 and seeing the signs for Avielochan. Then following the road round and seeing the loch for the first time – that’s when we know our holiday is starting. Equally, the worst bit is driving away and knowing you won’t be back for a while.

A 7-night stay at Hill View Cottage, Avielochan in the Cairngorms National Park starts from £720.

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