Key Places - Whisky and Castles - Self-Guided
11 Day: Self-Guided: Road/Touring
Situated in the spectacular Grampian mountain scenery to the east of the highest mountains of the Cairngorms National Park, Braemar is an idyllic location for walkers and cyclists. There are 24 Munros (mountains over 3000 ft high) and 65 miles of high-level walks and cycle routes of varying length and difficulty.
Just outside the town you’ll find 17th Century Braemar Castle. Built by the Earl of Mar in 1628, it has been a hunting lodge, fortress, garrison and family home.
Braemar hosts and annul Gathering and Highland Games. Held on the first Saturday in September, the event is regularly attended by the Royal Family and features the best pipe bands, pipers, Highland dancers and athletes.
Cardhu Distillery was founded by smuggler John Cumming, and his wife Helen. The still dates from 1811 and ran as an illicit concern until its licence in 1824. Elizabeth Cumming, daughter-in-law of the founders, took over the distillery refining the silky flavour and character of the whisky. The original distillery building was built on Mannoch Hill, above the river Spey with the benefit of peat softening the water. The location also served well as a vantage point from which to see approaching officers of the law and hoist a flag to warn other distillers in the area.
Inverness lies at the north-eastern end of the Great Glen (Gleann Mòr). The city is the area’s largest metropolis and regarded as the capital of the Highlands. Meaning ‘mouth of the river Ness’ in Gaelic, the city is located where the Ness River flows out of Loch Ness into the Moray Firth (famous for its resident pod of Bottlenose dolphins).
Inverness is near to two key historic battle sites: the 11th-century battle of Blàr nam Fèinne against Norway which took place on The Aird to the west of the city and the 18th-century Battle of Culloden (the last battle fought on British soil. Inverness Castle now stands were, legend has it, was once the seat of 11th Century Gaelic king Mac Bethad Mac Findláich who murdered king Donnchad Mac Crinain, as fictionalised by Shakespeare in ‘the Scottish play’.
There are many other historic buildings, notably in the Old Town and Victorian Market. St Andrew's Cathedral, built from Red Tarradale stone, with a nave of five bays, divided by columns of Peterhead granite has an imposing position on the River Ness. You can take a circular walk from the castle along the river and through the Ness Islands. Other attractions in the city include Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, tropical gardens at Inverness Floral Hall and a Titanic Inverness Maritime Museum.
Above the city lies Craig Phadrig, an ancient hill fort and once the stronghold of Pictish Kings. From here you can enjoy forest walks and magnificent views of the Moray Firth.
"The self guided tour is an excellent way to see the country at your own pace with the freedom of not having to carry all your gear. The tour was..."
Janice and Simon