Cafés in the Cairngorms National Park
Aviemore Gallery Coffee Shop
The Aviemore Gallery is the place to admire the works of Scottish artists – paintings, ceramics, sculptures and jewellery – and to pick up locally produced crafts including candles, textiles and toys. The coffee shop, though, is the place to drop those shopping bags and settle in with a tea or coffee (Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified) and a cake or sinful scone. Outside tables provide views of the Caledonian pinewoods, while in winter the big woodburner belts out the warmth.
Bridge of Brown Tearoom
This small, whitewashed tearoom might reasonably be described as hiding in the middle of nowhere. And that’s its big appeal: tucked away off the old military road between Grantown-on-Spey and Tomintoul, in the north-east of the park, it’s a wild, lonesome place with striking views. A place to stop off at while hiking or cycling through the park, to fuel up with a Fairtrade coffee or tea, homemade soup or a hot snack, a cake and a huddle by the roaring fire.
Mor @ Glenmore
Glenmore Forest Park is an island of ancient Caledonian pine forest carpeting the hillside above Loch Morlich and its wonderfully broad sandy beach. The visitor centre is the place to find out about the pinewood, and the activities on offer around the park – but also to tuck into a hot drink, light meal or home-baked treat at its café, produced with locally sourced ingredients. The views from the café are pretty spectacular, too.
The Glenlivet Distillery Coffee Shop
Perhaps the idea of visiting a whisky distillery to drink coffee seems a little odd. And not just any whisky: The Glenlivet has been created here for nearly two centuries (legally, that is – whisky has been produced here since long before George Smith was granted his licence). But with a tempting menu of snacks, homemade soup, rolls, baked spuds and confectionaries – including the famous Glenlivet whisky cake – as well as fine Fairtrade coffee and juices, it’s well worth stopping off for a bite or (non-alcoholic) drink after a tour of the distillery. There’s also an interesting new exhibition about the tipple.
If you hadn’t guessed, Cafaidh is Gaelic for café – which tells you a little about the ambience and menu of this friendly place in Aviemore. Freshly prepared soups, cakes, crêpes, burgers and mountain platters are prepared with proudly Scottish ingredients (there are local beers and, naturally, whiskies, too), and there’s top-notch coffee. But there’s more than just chow here – browse the bookshop and Scottish music collection, and admire the art displayed around the walls. There’s free wifi, too.
Clootie Dumpling Restaurant at the Speyside Centre
What, you may ask, is a clootie dumpling? It’s a traditional pudding wrapped in cloth (‘clootie’) and boiled in a pot over an open fire for several hours – a bit like Christmas pudding, but with ingredients that here include carrots, apples, raisins and various spices. A slice at this friendly restaurant is served with a choice of no fewer than 21 accompaniments, from simple cream or custard to sausage, bacon, fried egg and tomato. There are plenty of other options, too, from soups and sandwiches to more substantial meals, and the Speyside Centre is a fine place at which to while away a few hours, learning about heather, and shopping for paintings, antiques and local gifts.
Rocksalt & Snails
A branch of the longstanding favourite café in Aberdeen, this Ballater coffee shop dishes up much more than just coffee (though the Ipanema Espresso, named one of the world’s top brews by the Rainforest Alliance, is worth stopping in for). Paninis and sandwiches introduce unusual combinations, while salads, quiches and soups use proudly local produce. As for the fresh-baked breads, croissants and cakes… oh, the cakes. The diet can wait another day. And no, snails aren’t on the menu.
A bright, cheerful café in Braemar, taste.. is about as close to the centre of the park as you’ll get without being on top of Ben Macdui. The menu is short but sweet (literally – note the homemade cakes, especially the sponges for which owner-cook Ros is renowned), with fresh soup, bacon rolls and a handful of tasty sandwiches made with local bread on offer daily, plus Fairtrade teas and Rainforest Alliance coffees.
The Druie Restaurant Café
Why, when you’re near a spot that’s been voted Britain’s best picnic site, would you choose to eat indoors? Well, this welcoming café – named for the burn flowing behind – there’s a menuful of answers, many incorporating Highland beef, wild venison and rainbow trout produced or caught right here on Rothiemurcus Estate. Lighter options are plentiful, including breakfasts, lunches, locally roasted coffee and homemade cakes, plus an array of other local produce. The Druie is adorned with a changing display of art, and the adjoining farm shop and deli is a treasure trove of treats – artisan cheeses and honey alongside those estate-nurtured meats and fish.