North and north east Scotland Round-up
This post covers the area from Inverness and the Moray Firth all the way down to the Firth of Forth. There is a huge variety here: the Highland Fault line runs from Stonehaven just south of Aberdeen across towards Glasgow so we have a mix of Highland and Lowland Scotland and some of the richest agricultural land.
Most famous for Speyside whisky – and do visit a few and the cooperage centre – but don’t neglect treasures such as Elgin Cathedral, the Spey Bay dolphin centre, some very pretty fishing villages, a range of castles, and the Findhorn community. There is a long distance path running along the Spey from Nethy Bridge to Spey Bay – walking even part of it is delightful. For the more ambitious, the river is navigable by kayak or canoe but beware the rapids at Knockando which as used as a white water training area. A heritage railway runs from Keith to Dufftown
The Cairngorm National Park is well used by visitors and the high plateau (reachable via the Cairngorm funicular railway) is spectacular. There is a herd of reindeer with some free ranging and others kept on the Glenlivet estate. Lower down, Loch Morlich is a watersports hotspot and there is a wealth of walking in forest and hills both on the Cairngorms and the less visited Mondhliath Mountains on the other side of the A9. Steam trains run from Aviemore to Boat of Garten and Broomhill (by Nethy Bridge). Newtonmore boast an excellent folk museum and the best mainland Harris Tweed shop.
There are distilleries, a higher density of castles than you’ll find anywhere, stone circles, Pictish Scuplted Stones, Victorian,lovely coastal villages and a wonderful museum of lighthouses In Fraserburgh with a lighthouse built through a castle and wonder Cullin Skink in the café. The area extends into the eatern Cairngorms and there is great walking all along Deeside. Don’t neglect Aberdeen City with the pretty conservation village of Footdee and the ancient city of Old Aberdeen.
Home of course to Aberdeen Angus cattle.
Perth is a pretty city and provides a great base for exploration as do the other towns in the area : Pitlochry, Blairgowrie, Dunkeld. With majestic palaces like Scone, lovely Dunkeld Cathedral, iconic castles like Doune and Taymouth and lovely hills and lochs with hotpsots of Queens View (Loch Tummel) and Killin (Loch Tay), there are few areas offering such a variety of scenery in a small area. Watersports area feature of Loch Tay with white water rafting on the river.
Dundee is busy reinventing itself and with a new outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum being built, visitor numbers are likely to soar. It’s old wealth was build on Jam, Jute and Journalism and you’ll find links to that today. The Verdant Works and the ships Discovery and Unicorn are worth investigating.
Arbroath is of course the home of the famous Smokie and no visit would be complete without a sample. The Abbey has a particular role in Scottish history and especially the concept that sovereignty lies with the people of Scotland which still resonates today.
Further inland the Angus Glens are lovely with a trip to Edzell Castle easily combined with walks along the North Esk to the Rocks of Solitude and walks around Loch Lee and into the mountains. The Montrose basin is a mecca for wildlife. Golfers will enjoy Carnoustie where play on one of the courses is usually possible.
The Kingdom of Fife has a dense network of places of interest from St Andrews to the historic town (and Carnegie’s hometown) Dunfermline. Take a boat trip to the Isle of May from Anstruther, after a visit to its fisheries museum and finish yoru day with a visit to a fish and chip shop. Culross and Falkland Palace are big draws but take time to explore the delightful coastal villages. Plan your day carefully to include a visit to Loch Leven’s Castle and allow yourself time to explore the hills: not enormous but with grand views over this corner of Scotland. Plan well ahead to have even the chance to play at St Andrews Old Course.