Glamis thou art…
This ended up being a rather random trip out for Spencer and I. We were going to head to Findhorn Bay, but the weather took a turn for the worse, so we decided to head towards Cawdor Castle. Made famous in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. There’s a lot to do and you may not have time to visit the distillery unless you cut out Culloden Battlefield. It depends on what you want to do.
Leave Grantown on Spey on the A939 North towards Forres. The road out from the town in this direction is beautiful and very rugged. The journey will take approximately 45minutes, but is a lovely drive. The road will fork and you need to take the road on the left, signposted as Nairn.
You’ll see a sign for Cawdor and will take a left on the B9090. Follow this road and you’ll see signs to the castle.
The castle is beautifully preserved and there are lots of rooms to explore, you can then take some time out to walk around the extensive gardens, which are stunning. The first records of the castle date back to 1454. They have some of the loveliest and oldest hanging tapestries in Scotland too.
Also look out for events taking place at Cawdor Castle throughout the year. It is open all week from the 1st May – 4th October between 10am-5.30pm.
The castle does have a little café, but we stopped off at Darcey’s Tearoom which is found just outside the entrance to the castle. We tried a carrot and parsnip cake there and it tasted amazing.
When you leave the castle, or the tearoom, turn left onto the B9090 (Old Military Road). Follow this road, which will curve to the right and take you across the River Nairn. At the crossroads turn left onto the B9091/B9006. Continue on this road, following signs to the Culloden Battlefield which will be on your left. This take approximately 20 minutes.
The National Trust for Scotland renovated the visitor centre in 2007 and it offers a multimedia experience to the build-up to the Culloden battle and the aftermath of this terrible event. You will hear from both sides, the Jacobite’s and the Loyalists, the political, social, religious and economic reasons behind the battle which took place on the 16th April 1746.
You can also walk around the battlefield with a tour guide…at the time we went they were all dressed in period costume. This is a truly moving place and taking your time to soak in the atmosphere is a must.
The visitor centre, restaurant and shop is open between 1st February and 23rd December. Times do vary but the standard hours are between 9am-5pm.
Once you leave the Battlefield turn right onto the B9006 and then take the next right which is a small road that appears to go nowhere. Trust us, it takes you somewhere very interesting and a little spooky! Continue down this road and you will cross the River Nairn. Keep an eye out for small fingerpost signs to Clava Cairns which will be on your right. This will take you five minutes from the battlefield.
Clava Cairns is a rather mystical, prehistoric domed structure that was built to capture the movement of the sun and some believe it may also be a burial place. There are some nice simple walking trails to more standing stones from the small carpark for the Clava Cairns. Historic Scotland manage these sites and more information on the Cairns can be found via this link below.
This is 20 minutes away from the Clava Cairns and is on the way back towards Grantown on Spey. Leave the Clava Cairns going back the way you came in, back over the River Nairn and at the crossroads take a left onto the B851, follow this road and when you reach the A9 turn left. Continue on the A9 and you will see a sign for the distillery which will turn right off of the main road. Follow the signs to the Tomatin Distillery.
The distillery was founded in 1897 and you can bottle your own whisky, take a tour or just sit at the bar and sample some of their single malts. Under 18’s are allowed on the Legacy Tour. Like most distilleries it is always best to call ahead as they like to keep tour groups small.
Opening times from Saturday 4th April
Monday-Saturday 10am to 5pm – first tour 10am
Sunday 12pm – 5pm – first tour 12pm
Winter Hours in operation October to April
– Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm
You will want to get back to Strathallan B&B to rest those weary feet! When you leave the Distillery, you’ll turn right back on to the A9 and follow signs for Grantown. It’ll take 30 minutes to get back and have a lie-down. If you did want to stop off for dinner along the way, why not try some pub grub at the Cairn Hotel in Carrbridge.