Left: The Atholl Highlanders
Right: Gondola ski lifts on Ben Nevis
Nearby is Blair Castle, the ancient seat of the Dukes and
Earls of Atholl, dating back to 1269. It is also home to the
Atholl Highlanders, Europe’s only remaining private army.
As well as looking around the Castle, there is extensive parkland
including a deer park, making it a wonderful day out.
From Pithlochry we made our way deeper into the
Highlands to Aviemore which, although primarily a ski
resort, also offers a wealth of other activities. The road is a
dual carriage way, so excellent and fast, and distances can
be covered in a surprisingly short time.
Aviemore is based at the foot of the CairnGorm Mountain,
with the whole of the area designated as a National Park, the
largest in the UK, covering 1,400 square miles. We stayed at
the Boat Hotel, just outside Aviemore, which is conveniently
placed within walking distance of the Boat of Garten 18-hole
golf and tennis club, and right on the doorstep of the
Strathspey Steam Railway.
The latter still runs, manned by volunteers, from May
until the end of September. Food is served on board as well
as a three-course Sunday lunch in the restaurant car. The area
is used for the filming of the television series Monarch of the
Glen, and Broomhill, the present terminal, also displays the
sign Glenbogle, as used in the series.
The CairnGorm has a funicular railway which takes you
3,600 feet up the mountain. As well as ski-ing, there is also a
restaurant which, as well as providing nourishment, has ceiling-
to-floor windows to provide the most spectacular views.
The slopes are suitable for beginners as well as the more
One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the Highland
Wildlife Park, where animals roam free. You are obliged to
stay in your car in the main reserve, but are able to stop at
certain points to listen to an audio guide. There are also areas
where you can walk.
The Rothiemurchus Estate is also not to be missed.
Covering over 25,000 acres, you can take a Land Rover tour
of the estate; walk – there are fifty miles of paths; or cycle –
you can hire a mountain bike unless, of course, you have
brought your own. Here you can enjoy the wildlife, as well as
numerous outdoor activities such as clay shooting and fishing.
From Aviemore we drove across country to stay in the lap
of luxury at Inverlochy, a Victorian Castle and now a hotel
at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis near
Fort William. The Nevis Range offers the highest skiing
in Scotland, as well as opportunities for a wide range of abilities.
There is also a somewhat treacherous bike track down
the mountain which is extremely popular.
Our last night was spent at the Airds Hotel, originally an
18th century ferry inn, on Loch Linnhe at Port Appin.
Owner-run, this intimate hotel is just a short ferry ride to
Lismore Island. The location, as with the other places we
visited, is wonderful for walking, cycling or just exploring
the beautiful countryside, with hardly a person or car in sight.
We had to tear ourselves away to go back to the hustle and
bustle of city life. A holiday guaranteed to relax you.
Visit Scotland: T. 0845 2255121
MQ READERS’ OFFER
Cringletie House Hotel is offering MQ readers the opportunity
of enjoying two nights dinner, bed & breakfast for £145 pp
based on twin occupancy. Included in the package, the
hotel has negotiated special golf rates for readers at the
18-hole West Linton course from £27.50 pp as well as other
local golf courses.
There is also a special price for a day visit to Stobo Castle
Health Spa at £99 pp midweek / £150 weekends.
The offer is valid until 1 May 2005 excluding Christmas,
Hogmanay, Valentine and Easter, and is subject to availability.
Bookings: T. 01721725750 and mention MQ offer.
Web site created by Mark Griffin