Last week we set out on our first holiday since lockdown began here in March. After 17 weeks at home with only our daily exercise to look forward to it was fantastic to escape from our bubble into the big wide world!
We visit the Aviemore area every year around this time as we love it there, but we were unsure if the Government guidelines would allow us to go, or even if we’d be welcome! Watching and reading the news in the countdown to our trip we saw popular locations swarmed by tourists, with some destinations urging people to stay away for fear of spreading Coronavirus, as well as people damaging the beautiful areas they call home. Luckily it all came together at the right time and off we went.
We knew things would be different but we weren’t sure how. The first thing we noticed was how quiet it was. Aviemore is usually very, very busy at this time of year, but the streets were obviously quieter and many attractions and businesses were still closed.
We had booked two things before we left, a restaurant for the night we arrived and a family favourite, the Highland Wildlife Park. We wanted a quiet break, but knew we’d have to plan ahead due to restricted availability. Although both experiences were amended slightly, none of them were negatively affected in my eyes. Eating out was barely different, but there were a few more changes at the wildlife park. Part of the park is a drive-through safari in your own vehicle anyway, and the remainder was one way where necessary. There were no talks at feeding sessions and the red pandas and wildcats were sectioned off for their protection. The cafe is also takeaway or open air only.
The rest of the trip we stuck to the great outdoors and the fresh air, enjoying a walk around Loch Morlich and some time on the beach there, and climbing our third Munro as a family, Cairn Gorm.
Although quiet during our visit, things were starting to pick up when we left at the weekend, the great weather bringing people to the mountains and filling the carparks in the Cairngorms National Park with caravans and campervans.
If you are planning a trip or staycation soon I’d recommend you plan ahead so you know what’s available and avoid disappointment, but also be respectful of the current guidelines, the area you’re visiting, other visitors and the people who live there. For many people this is their first chance to go somewhere or encounter others so be kind!