Diary: snow in the Cairngorms and a whisky distillery!

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

Yes, it is the first day of our road trip! After a sunny day in Edinburgh, we picked up our Spaceships campervan this morning. And now we are ready to leave for the north of Scotland.


Falkland – for all Outlander geeks!

It takes some time getting used to, but soon Ries has mastered driving to the left. We drive in Agent Dunham, a campervan that is so big that it is rather reminiscent of a big bus. After a short pit stop for gasoline and the first groceries (am I the only one or is it wonderful to know that your fridge is full of tasty things?) We cross the Queensferry Crossing.

Our first stop today is the small village of Falkland. I have been wanting to go here for ages since this village is part of the TV show Outlander, which I’m obsessed with. The town looks exactly like in Outlander itself, so it feels unreal to walk around here. We walk across the square where several scenes have been recorded, watch the cute little hotel that is part of the series and see the recognizable red letterbox.

Tip: even if you are not an Outlander fan, the village of Falkland is nice to visit. It is a picturesque village surrounded by the Lomond Hills, with the Falkland Palace and several tearooms in the middle of the city. Falkland is just an hour’s drive from Edinburgh.

Cairngorms National Park – Loch Morlich

We continue to Cairngorms National Park, the largest national park in all of Scotland. Driving by small villages, we are on our way to the village of Glenmore on Loch Morlich. After a short stop in Aviemore, to pick up some information at the tourist office, we drive to a campsite. This is located in the woods near the lake and just a few minutes later we are walking on the beach.

It is a beautiful area, in the distance we see the Cairngorm Mountains with snowy peaks. After sitting in the car for so long, we feel like being a bit more active. So we put on our hiking shoes to walk a part of the Ryvoan Trail. This path runs through the woods, via rocks and along small rivers. After 45 minutes we arrive at a beautiful lake: Lochan Uaine. The translation of this name is “the green lake” and indeed the water is clear green-blue. It is a stunning place which should definitely be part of your road trip through Scotland!Cairngorms National ParkScotland Cairngorms National Park

We continue walking since we planned on climbing the Meall a’Bhuchaille. This is a mountain of 810 meters high, not very high but with a steep slope. After a short but tough climb, we are at the top of the summit. The wind is strong here, but we are rewarded with a beautiful view of the Cairngorms. Back at the campsite, we make a feast of wraps, soup and wine, we take a hot shower and then shiver in bed. During the day the temperature is fine but in the evening it cools down considerably at the campsite.

Tip: to the south, just outside of Cairngorms National Park, is the town of Pitlochry, where there is a very nice hike of approximately 16 kilometres. For more information and directions, click here.

Cairngorm Mountains

Our first night in the campervan: we slept like babies! After we have woken up the entire campsite by opening the car door while it was still locked: the alarm rings loudly, we start our breakfast. It is still fresh outside, but due to the hot coffee and tea, we heat up quickly. Glenmore is at the foot of the Cairngorm Mountains and we plan to visit those today.

We take the first part by car to the Cairn Gorm Mountain Railway. From here a train goes up the mountain (currently the train is broken), but there are also ski lifts leaving from here. This is the most visited ski resort in all of Scotland. There is still a little bit of snow, but the lifts and ski bar are already closed. The wind is very strong, an employee at the parking lot says that this area is known as the windiest part of the UK. We believe him immediately when we struggle upwards against wind gusts of 50 km / h. After three quarters we reach the first snow. Such a crazy idea, we walk through the snow while the day before yesterday in Edinburgh we had a super hot day.Snow in Cairngorms

Half an hour later we give up … on the primitive map that I have in my hands, the top seems to be very far away to be. It feels like we are being blown back by two for every step we take. Downhill goes a lot faster, we have the wind in our back and sometimes almost fly off the mountain. Once at the bottom, we find out that we were almost at the top … oh well .. so close but yet so far away ;-).

Tip: in the north of Cairngorms National park you will find the cute town of Carrbridge. Here we had a picnic and made a few small walks. Perfect as a stopover between Aviemore and Inverness. Also don’t forget to visit the famous Old Pack Horde Bridge, the oldest stone bridge in the Highlands.Cairngorms National Park

Whisky at Tomatin

When you take a road trip through Scotland, a whisky tasting should be included! We are going to do this at Tomatin, a large distillery located just outside of Cairngorms. We first get a tour where we learn all about the whisky making process. Whisky has been made here since the 16th century, Tomatin has existed since 1897. Our guide tells how Tomatin almost went bankrupt decades ago until a major Japanese sake producer intervened. The Japanese found it unprecedented that such an old whisky company would no longer exist and bought the company and invested in it to make it healthy again.

After the tour, we get to taste three different whisky’s. Ries is driving, so, unfortunately, he cannot participate, but he is given a small bottle for later on. I like the whisky, although because of the burning taste in my throat, I taste little difference between the three glasses. Warmed up and slightly tipsy, I get back into the car, on my way to today’s final destination: Culloden!

We did the legacy tour at Tomatin, which takes about an hour and a half and costs £ 10 per person. We didn’t have a reservation in advance but we just walked in and there was still room.Tomatin Distillery

The battlefield of Culloden

On April 16, 1746, the Jacobites (supporters of the deposed Scottish King James II) were defeated by the British army in Culloden, near the city of Inverness. This meant not only the end of the Jacobites but also the end of the entire Highlands lifestyle. Many clans were completely butchered, hunted or starved to death. The clan system disappeared, Scottish clothing such as kilts or tartan were illegal and the bagpipes were banned.Culloden

Almost 275 years later, this event is still very important for many Scots. We are therefore not surprised to see quite a few people when we walk across the battlefield of Culloden. The drizzly weather reinforces the respectful atmosphere here. We walk quietly past the various Clan stones, admiring the fact that so many years later, there are still flowers and candles near most of the stones. In the end, we also find the stone of Clan Fraser, that too has something to do with the TV show Outlander.

Impressed by all of this, we get back in the car. It’s 5 pm and we have no idea where to go next or where we are going to sleep… Let’s see!


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