Loch Morlich is a stunning freshwater loch located deep in the heart of the Cairngorms near Glenmore Forest in the Scottish Highlands. The loch features a sand beach, a sports centre, and a yacht club.
There are lots of paths surrounding the loch that run through the forest, and the Glenmore Forest Visitor Centre and the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre are just a 10-minute walk away.
|Parking:||Paid car park on-site:
£2 for up to 1 hour
£3 for up to 3 hours
£4 for all-day (vehicles up to 7 seats)
£12 for minibus or coach all-day
Blue Badge holders park for free
01479 861 221
|Facilities:||Cafe, toilets, partial disabled access, picnic area, watersports hire|
Loch Morlich is a stunning freshwater loch nestled in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Renowned for its golden sand beach and watersport activities, it offers a unique Highland experience. Encompassed by lush forests and the snow-capped Cairngorm Mountains, it’s a haven for nature lovers, adventurers, and tranquillity seekers alike.
Located deep in the heart of Scotland’s beautiful Strathspey area is Loch Morlich, a natural freshwater loch that’s considered one of the finest in the Highlands.
There’s so much do at the loch and in the surrounding area that I can safely say it’s impossible not to have a great time, and yet Loch Morlich is almost criminally unknown about by many of Scotland’s visitors.
First off, there’s the location at the bottom of the Cairngorm mountain range just a few miles from Aviemore, and second, there’s the lovely Glenmore Forest which surrounds it on all sides.
Not only have you got mountain sports and hill walking trails within easy reach but you’ve also got superb walking and cycling routes running through the nearby forest. And that’s before you’ve even ventured onto the loch to enjoy the wide range of water sports on offer.
It’s the view that first hits you though, and you’ll probably have trouble taking it all in as you walk out of the adjoining car park and set foot onto the golden sand beach with the waves of the crystal clear loch gently lapping at the shoreline. If you close your eyes you could momentarily be forgiven for thinking you’re on some remote exotic beach in a far-off country.
However, opening your eyes again only confirms that you’re still in Scotland, with the immense snow-capped peaks of the Cairngorms rising high into the clouds on one side and the deep-green Scottish pines of Glenmore Forest sweeping away into the distance in the other direction.
If you’re a tourist in search of the best outdoor experiences that Scotland has to offer you could do a lot worse than take a trip to Loch Morlich.
1: The beach and loch are very clean. No problem letting the kids go wild at Loch Morlich.
2: The views are incredible – mountains to one side, forest to the other, water and beach to the front. Loch Morlich makes a truly great base to explore both the Cairngorms and Glenmore.
3: The watersports on offer at the loch are excellent thanks to the watersports centre on the beach. Plus, the equipment rental charge is reasonable.
1: Take a pair of flip-flops so you can potter about in the loch after walking through the woodland.
2: Combine your visit with a walk into the nearby Cairngorm range. Be aware the funicular is frequently closed but the walking trails are almost always open. See this article: The Cairngorm Funicular for more information.
3: There are a couple of woodland walks you can reach via car parks further up the road towards the Cairngorms ski centre. If you’d like to find more forest walks read this article: Guide to Forest Walks in Scotland.
A visit to this very special part of Scotland has to include a walk through the nearby Cairngorm mountains. There’s possibly no better way to experience that stunning mountain range than by taking a ride in the Cairngorm Funicular Railway which will whisk you to the top of the northern slope in double-quick time.
From there you can head on out into the mountain range with its world-class walking trails and sports activities that are available throughout the year.
In winter there’s a host of snow sports to enjoy including skiing and snowboarding and in summer there’s a whole network of downhill mountain biking trails, while the railway top station has a restaurant with some of the finest views in Scotland.
Heading back down the mountain towards Loch Morlich you’ll find yourself in the expansive Glenmore Forest Park, an ancient fir and pine forest that covers the landscape almost to the horizon in every direction.
This forest has been designated as a National Nature Reserve and there’s a vast number of wildflowers and birds to see as you make your way through it on one of the many paths that have been laid throughout the area.
You won’t feel like you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere when hungry bellies start growling as there’s a very good café in the centrally located Glenmore Visitor Centre which just so happens to be opposite the entrance to Loch Morlich.
The loch is surrounded by the impossibly thick forest in all directions and it’s fringed by golden-sand beaches most of the way around, all of which goes some way to explaining why in recent years it has become one of North Scotland’s most popular sites for water sports.
The Loch Morlich Watersports Centre offers a variety of exciting water-based activities including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and paddleboarding, and you can either take part in instructor-led lessons if you’re a beginner or you can hire the equipment if you’re more experienced.
If you’re not feeling quite so energetic you can simply sit on the sand and soak up the sun’s rays or swim in the exceptionally clear water (interesting fact – Loch Morlich is officially the UK’s highest beach).
The visitor centre back across the road has plenty of snacks and ice creams and there’s also a picnic area on the site if you want to bring your own packed lunch. The only thing you’re not allowed to do is camp in the recreational areas, which is explained on notice boards at the entrance.
Discover more places to visit in the Scottish Highlands with: The Best Places to Visit in the Highlands – Ultimate Visitor Guide.
Things to Do
Kayaking on Loch Morlich: Experience the serenity of paddling across the calm waters of Loch Morlich, surrounded by the magnificent Cairngorm Mountains. A variety of kayaking options are available from the watersports centre for all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned paddlers.
Sailing Adventures: For those seeking a different activity on the open water, sailing on Loch Morlich is a must. The loch’s open expanse makes it ideal for this sport and lessons are available for beginners, making it a fun experience for all visitors.
Wildlife Watching: Loch Morlich is home to a diverse range of wildlife. Spend a peaceful day birdwatching or looking out for red squirrels and roe deer. If you don’t own a pair of binoculars, check out these reviews.
Winter Sports at Cairngorm Mountain: During the winter months, Loch Morlich offers quick access to the Cairngorm Mountain ski area. With a range of slopes for all abilities, it’s a great place for skiing and snowboarding. Afterwards, warm up with a hot drink at the mountain’s café and bask in the stunning snow-capped scenery.
Hiking the Cairngorms: Loch Morlich is nestled in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park so it’s a perfect base for hiking enthusiasts. Explore the moorlands, forests, and stunning mountain vistas on numerous trails that cater to all abilities.
Things to Do Nearby
Cairngorm Mountain. Ski Area, Cairngorm, Aviemore PH22 1RB. 9-minute drive.
The Cairngorm Mountain range’s main ski and snowboard station. There is a funicular railway that takes visitors up the mountainside to a station that features a gift shop, café, restaurant and an outside seating platform with views across the surrounding mountains.
Glenmore Forest Park Visitor Centre. Glenmore, Aviemore PH22 1QU. 7-minute walk.
One of Scotland’s largest forest areas. The visitor centre is the starting point for most excursions into the forests around Cairngorm whether it’s on foot or mountain bike. There is a café and a visitor information point on-site.
Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. Reindeer House, Glenmore, Aviemore PH22 1QU. 8-minute walk.
This attraction takes visitors on daily guided tours to see Britain’s only free-ranging herd of wild reindeer. There are also a small number of reindeer that can be visited in the centre’s paddocks.
An Lochan Uaine. Aviemore PH22 1QZ. 12-minute drive.
A popular lochan that sits alongside one of the most-used walking trails in Glenmore Forest. The tree-lined body of water has open areas suitable for picnics. It is known as the ‘Green Loch’ due to the unusual green colour of the water caused by the trees reflecting off it.
Strathspey Steam Railway. Station, Dalfaber Rd, Aviemore PH22 1PY. 13-minute drive.
Restored steam train with original carriages that follows a timetabled route from Aviemore to Boat of Garten. The 10-mile track offers stunning views of the Highlands as it passes through woodlands and heather moorland.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the walk around Loch Morlich?
Loch Morlich is a beautiful spot that’s ideal for walking and appreciating nature. The circular walk around the loch’s perimeter is approximately about 3.7 miles long. This trail provides stunning views of the Cairngorm Mountains and the surrounding forest. Depending on your pace and how often you stop to soak in the sights, it can typically take between 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.
Is Loch Morlich a man-made beach?
The beach at Loch Morlich is natural. The scenic beach is officially the highest in the United Kingdom.
Is Loch Morlich deep?
Loch Morlich is a relatively shallow loch with a maximum depth of 49 feet (15 metres).
Can you wild camp at Loch Morlich?
It is possible to wild camp at Loch Morlich, but overnight parking is not allowed in the beach car park. It is also not permitted to have fires and barbecues on Loch Morlich beach.