With illustrious names like Braemar, Balmoral and Blair Castle, the entire story of Scotland can be discovered on a visit to Cairngorms National Park
From Edinburgh or Glasgow, join the A93 at Perth and follow it through Glenshee, to Braemar, the eastern gateway to the Cairngorm Mountains. Visit Braemar Highland Heritage Centre and 17th century Braemar Castle, which is now run by the local community. Continue on the A93 to Balmoral Castle, Queen Victoria’s “dear paradise where everywhere I look seems to breathe freedom and peace”. You can uncover more ancient history at The Kinord Stone, a 9th century Celtic symbol stone in Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve before leaving the A93 for the A97 up to Strathdon, where a short detour will bring you to the ruined 16th century Glenbuchat Castle, now protected by Historic Scotland, who also maintain spectacular Corgarff Castle, a 16th century tower house set in wild scenery in Upper Strathdon on the A939 to Tomintoul. Stop at the bottom of the Lecht pass to visit the Lecht Mine – active during the 18th and 19th centuries. Continue to the planned 18th century village of Tomintoul with its Square, Museum, Telford Church and Manse.
Start the day from Tomintoul and head north on the A939 and take the right hand turning after Bridge of Avon. Just beside the road is Fodderletter Lum – placed there by early road menders to provide warmth at night. Continue down Strathavon and turn left onto the B9136 to 15th century Drumin Castle, sometime home of the Wolf of Badenoch. Continue to Bridgend of Glenlivet and turn right onto the B9008 to the ancient Livet Pack Horse Bridge after quarter of a mile. Continue to Auchnarrow and take a left turning signposted Chapeltown and Scalan. Park at the end of the road and walk a mile on level ground to discover the Forbidden College of Scalan where Roman Catholic priests were trained in secret during the 18th century. End the day at Grantown and enjoy an evening of local hospitality.
From Grantown, head south and maybe visit Castle Roy by Nethybridge on your way to the ruined 18th century Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie, which were built following the first Jacobite uprising. From here it’s on to Clan MacPherson Museum at Newtonmore, where you will also find part of the multi award winning Highland Folk Museum where a 1700s township has been recreated. Finally head south past Dun da Lamh Pictish Hillfort at Laggan Bridge before taking the A9 south to Blair Atholl and magnificent Blair Castle, home of the Atholl Highlanders – the only remaining private army in the UK.