AVIEMORE was first developed as a ski and tourism resort in the mid-1960s and, over the years, it fell victim to profiteering developers with scant regard for the needs of the local community. Although a large-scale face-lift has removed some of the architectural eyesores of that era, the settlement remains dominated by a string of soulless shopping centres and sprawling housing estates surrounding a Victorian railway station. That said, Aviemore is well equipped with services and facilities for visitors, and is the most convenient base for the Cairngorms, benefits which for most folk far outweigh its lack of aesthetic appeal.
Walking and water sports are the main summer activities. The area is also great for mountain biking, with both Rothiemurchus and Glenmore estates providing waymarked routes. The Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre at Inverdruie has route maps, and you can also rent bikes from Bothy Bikes (Tel:01479/810111, Web: www.bothybikes.co.uk ), located beside the tennis courts at Inverdruie.
Scottish skiing on a commercial level first really took off in Aviemore. By continental European and North American standards it's all on a tiny scale, but occasionally snow, sun and lack of crowds coincide and you can have a great day. February and March are usually the best times, but there's a chance of decent snow at any time between mid-November and April. Lots of places – not just in Aviemore itself – sell or rent equipment; for a rundown of ski schools and rental facilities in the area, check out the tourist office's Ski Scotland brochure or visit Web: ski.visitscotland.com .