Visitor Attractions

Cairngorms culture trip: museums, distilleries and Scotland’s national game

Badenoch – the southeast part of the Cairngorms National Park – has much to offer the curious traveller. The welcoming whisky distilleries of Dalwhinnie and Speyside will share their secrets and a dram, while the excellent Clan Macpherson and Highland Folk museums provide an immersive insight into life through the ages in the Scottish Highlands. And with two of shinty’s finest teams located within three miles of each other, in Newtonmore and Kingussie, there’s no better place to explore the importance of the game for Scottish culture.

Sup sweet single malt at Badenoch’s distilleries

Dalwhinnie Distillery

Dalwhinnie Distillery

If you’ve ever travelled by road or rail between Perth and Inverness, you’ll be familiar with the sight of Dalwhinnie Distillery, an unmissable white beacon set amongst a vast wilderness at the head of Loch Ericht. This impressive building welcomes north-going travellers as they enter Badenoch after the bleakness of the Drumochter Pass, and waves a warm Highland ‘Tìoraidh an-dràsta’ – ‘Goodbye for now’ – to those snaking southwards.

It’s well worth stopping off to enjoy one of Dalwhinnie Distillery’s tours. Join the 45-minute guided tour and tasting, which includes a pairing with Scottish highland chocolates. Or one of the longer tours aimed at whisky connoisseurs, and discover the secrets behind the single malts produced at Scotland’s highest distillery. In the shop you’ll find the classic Dalwhinnie 15, as well as a host of special editions.

Speyside Distillery

Cairngorms culture
Speyside Distillery

There are only 20 miles separating Dalwhinnie and Speyside distilleries, but you could hardly find a bigger contrast between two whisky producing buildings. The stone-built old barley mill where the award-winning SPEY single malt is produced is tucked down a pretty single-track road just north of Badenoch’s capital, Kingussie. An artisan family-run affair, the distillery uses locally grown malt barley and water from the River Tromie, a tributary of the River Spey. Tours of Speyside Distillery last 90 minutes and are by pre-appointment only.

Discover Scotland’s national game of shinty

Shinty’s importance in Badenoch

Cairngorms culture
A shinty game between Newtonmore and Kingussie at the Eilan ground in Newtonmore

The sport of shinty has been played in the Highlands of Scotland since ancient times. The Badenoch region is of particular importance to the game, so there’s no better place to immerse yourself in both its origins and current form. If you watch a match at Newtonmore or Kingussie’s grounds, you’ll find yourself thankful for the decision that moved the sport to a summer schedule from its origins as a game played between New Year and Easter.

As hinted at by the title of the sport’s premier competition, the Camanachd Cup, shinty and the Gaelic language are strongly intertwined, with music and dance often playing a part in match-day activities. You can listen to shinty songs and stories on our Badenoch The Storylands app, which has been designed to help visitors spend less time planning and more time exploring. It has tour itineraries, cycling and walking routes, music and stories celebrating Scottish culture, as well as interactive augmented reality (AR) experiences for local historical sites.

Shinty in Newtonmore

Newtonmore has won the Camanachd Cup more times than any other team to date – a feat made all the more impressive when you consider that the village has only 1,100 inhabitants. The amateur team trains at The Eilan and travels all over the Scottish Highlands to take part in matches.

Shinty in Kingussie

Along with Newtonmore, Kingussie Camanachd Club was one of the founding teams of the Camanachd Association, which was formed in Kingussie in 1893. Kingussie has enjoyed extraordinary league success, at one point entering the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful team in the history of world sport after winning the league 20 times in a row.

Delve into Scottish history at two top-rated museums

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore

Highland Folk Museum Township

If you’ve ever wondered what life was like in the Scottish Highlands a few hundred years ago, put a visit to the Highland Folk Museum on your to-do list. This open-air museum invites you to walk through history from Jacobite times onwards, with smoky peat fires, fields of croft animals and fully furnished homes, schools and shops providing a multi-sensory, interactive day out. Fans of Outlander may recognise the black house village found at one end of this mile-long museum.

Clan Macpherson Museum, Newtonmore

Cairngorms culture
Clan Macpherson Museum

This 4-star museum pays homage to the Clan Macpherson, a clan of high resolve, patriotism and loyalty that has strong ties to Badenoch. During the rise of the British Empire, the Macphersons spread across the globe, so as well as giving you an insight into how the clan controlled and protected Badenoch in early times, this museum also provides an excellent snapshot of Scottish and world history. If you happen to be visiting on the first Saturday of August, you can witness the spectacle of the Macpherson Clan making an impressive kilted march to the Newtonmore Highland Games.

Download the Badenoch the Storylands App and explore stories and hidden gems of this amazing place. You can also get detailed walks and cycle routes as well as driving tours and augmented reality which will help you discover the Badenoch of old.

Badenoch the Storylands App

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