Go for a stroll around this scenic loch, known for the ruined 13th-century castle at its center.
Loch an Eilein is a beautiful lake within the Rothiemurchus estate. The trail that wraps around the perimeter of the loch is said to be among the most popular short walks in the United Kingdom, attracting outdoor enthusiasts as far back as Victorian times. Wander along this serene trail, admiring the view of the mysterious ancient castle perched on an island within the loch.
Stop at the loch’s information center, located beside the visitor parking lot. Learn more about the forest’s plants and animals, check out the gift store or have coffee at the snack shop.
Follow the picturesque 4.5-mile (7-kilometer) trail that loops around the loch, considered to be among Scotland’s best low-intensity walking trails. Gaze at the views of the Cairngorm Mountains and at the lovely Scots pines bordering the trail. Try to spot red squirrels and Scottish crossbills. Walk across the small footbridge at the loch’s outflow. Bring a picnic and take a break at one of the many scenic areas overlooking the loch.
The name Loch an Eilein comes from a Gaelic expression meaning “Lake of the Island.” Notice the enchanting castle ruins on this small islet, located off the northwestern shore of the loch. The loch’s waters obscure the causeway that once led to this historic castle, which is believed to have been built in the 13th century by the Bishop of Moray. Until the early 20th century, the castle ruins were an important nesting site for ospreys. These rare birds visit the Rothiemurchus Fishery from March through August.
Consider extending your hike by making the challenging climb to the summit of Ord Ban. This 1,404-foot-high (428-meter) viewpoint offers wonderful views back over the loch and south toward the mountains in the distance.
Loch an Eilein is located 4 miles (6 kilometers) south of Aviemore. Drive here and park at the lake for a fee. Find the trail leading around the loch at the far end of the parking lot. Spend an afternoon enjoying the scenery at one of Scotland’s prettiest lochs.