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May 2021

Highland Coat of Arms

Rumours of Aviemore's absolute awfulness appear to have been greatly exaggerated. This by Guardian™-writing types who, coincidentally, are saying just that just a fortnight before this pair decide to pull in and park up for a peek.

Sure, there's a small version of an out-of-town retail park, only in a town, but there's still plenty of the traditional stone to remind you that you're somewhere in and around the Scottish Highlands.

Disgraced and dirty-dealing architect  John Poulson had a hand in Aviemore's development in the '60s when the 'St Moritz of Scotland' was sold to our friends in the north and ski-mad Sassenachs.

A dramatic decline due to easier access to the Alps saw the town transformed, again, and it's the ugly '80s frontage that has got the Guardian™'s typewriters tutting.

That makes it newer than you might think, but only if you've never really thought about it, although some of what could be seen in the '60s remains[1].

The rest of the main road through is lined with single-storey fleshpots and retail but that's only because the template for continental ski resorts was adopted for the redevelopment, probably.

[1] That eyesore is part of the  MacDonald Hotels and Resorts complex but other accomodation providers are available. That includes several holiday '  villages' that look to cater for the authentic, après-ski experience or a fondue in a bungalow if you'd rather.

There's talk of yet another transformation to revive the resort into something more all-year-round recreational and some development opportunities remain.

Despite being best known for the skiing, Aviemore's big problem is now down to the snow or rather the fluctuating frequency of it, naturally, and nighttime figures in Fahrenheit into the 40s not favourable to freezing.

They've even resorted to some artificial stuff to keep the gargantuan car park on the way up to Cairngorm Mountain sitting empty in February. Before that, everybody stayed in town raiding the dozens of outdoor outfitters with fingers crossed for tomorrow.

That looks to be today's case with Mountain Warehouse™ doing a particularly brisk trade in discount fleeces and social distancing about as visible as a hard-packed piste.

Saying that, last season saw enough of it to still be hanging around in early May but you'll need to head up a little for a glimpse of the 'Gorm'.

This from the footbridge at Aviemore's train station and it looks not a little unlike this from the front.

The railway came relatively late in 1898 meaning Victorian toffs would only enjoy the outdoors for three years until they'd officially be classified as Edwardian hedonists.

The 19:56 to Inverness has been cancelled and it's way too early for the 21:18 to London Euston so why are the rails ringing? Something's definitely coming?

Yes, a restored section of the original Highland Railway Line has got a chuff-chuff on it and it  choo-choos for 10 miles up into Speyside, when in season.

We are honestly not that interested in these things, honestly, you'll find they just keep following you around. Well, maybe one of us is and just a little bit more than they'd like to admit. I mean, who doesn't enjoy the sight of an LNER Class J94 Austerity 0-6-0ST, probably.

The recreational area over the railway line and next to the River Spey is being put to good use by ramblers, cyclists and the boozehounds on the benches of the  Old Bridge Inn.

It's clear there's slightly more to Aviemore and, outside of the skiing, it's as good a base as anywhere in the area. To keep 'em coming all year round, however, here's a tip for the pen-pushers at City Hall...

Don't throw up a load of glassy, generic gentrification that could just about be anywhere. Well, not unless you want to tear it all down and then try again in another 20 years.