“The Cairngorms National Park covers an area of 1,748 sq miles in the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Angus and Perth and Kinross. The mountain range of the Cairngorms lies at the heart of the national park, but forms only one part of it, alongside other hill ranges such as the Angus Glens and the Monadhliath, and lower areas like Strathspey and upper Deeside. Three major rivers rise in the park: the Spey the Dee and the Don. The Spey, which is the second longest river in Scotland, rises in the Monadhliath, whilst the Dee and the Don both rise in the Cairngorms themselves.
The Cairngorms themselves are a spectacular landscape, similar in appearance to the Hardangervidda National Park of Norway in having a large area of upland plateau. The range consists of three main plateaux at about 1000–1200 m above sea level, above which domed summits (the eroded stumps of once much higher mountains) rise to around 1300 m. Many of the summits have tors, free-standing rock outcrops that stand on top of the boulder-strewn landscape. The edges of the plateaux are in places steep cliffs of granite and they are excellent for skiing, rock climbing and ice climbing. The Cairngorms form an arctic-alpine mountain environment, with tundra-like characteristics and long-lasting snow patches.
The Monadhliath Mountains lie to the north of Strathspey, and comprise a bleak, wide plateau rising to between 700 and 950 m.
Two major transport routes run through the park, with both the A9 road and the Highland Main Line crossing over the Pass of Drumochter and running along Strathspey, providing links between the western and northern parts of the park and the cities of Perth and Inverness. The Highland Main Line is the only mainline rail route through the park, however there are several other major roads, including the A86, which links Strathspey to Fort William, and the A93, which links the Deeside area of the park to both Perth and Aberdeen.”Wikipedia Page
Past Braemar, along the A93, at the edge of the Cairngorms, lies Glen Shee, the Glen of the Sith or Fairies.
Glen Shee is a glen in eastern Perthshire, Scotland. Shee. The head of the glen, where Gleann Taitneach and Glen Lochsie meet, is approximately 2 km north-west of the Spittal of Glenshee; it then runs south-east to Bridge of Cally where it merges with Strathardle to form Glen Ericht. Once known as the glen of the fairies it takes its name from the Gaelic “sith” meaning fairy and the old meeting place at the standing stone behind the present day church is called Dun Shith or Hill of the Fairies.Wikipedia page
The main settlement is the Spittal of Glenshee, now by-passed, which has a historic hotel, first run by monks from Coupar Angus Abbey to provide shelter and hospitality for travellers, hence the name “Spittal”, an outdoor activity centre, self-catering lodges, the church and an original General Wade humpback bridge. The first record of a refuge for travellers there dates back to 961 AD.
At the Spittal, the Allt Lochay and Allt Beag join to form the Shee Water, which changes its name at Blacklunans to the Blackwater and eventually joins the River Ardle to form the River Ericht.
The A93 road, part of General Wade’s military road from Perth to Fort George, runs north through the glen and on into Glen Beag, where it crosses the Cairnwell Pass, at 2200 feet above sea level the highest public road in the UK. The road climbing to the summit is now wide and straight but until the late 1960s included two notorious hair-pin bends with a 1 in 3 (33%) gradient known as the Devil’s Elbow. One of the most spectacular roads in Scotland, this was a favourite subject for postcards.
From the VisitAberdeenshire blog
“Our 165 miles of stunning coastline, ancient fishing harbours and the rolling hills of purple clad countryside provide not only stunning backdrops but the perfect opportunity to discover nature.VisitAberdeenshire blog
See puffins perching on craggy cliff-tops, seals chilling out on the beach bay, red deer roaming majestic countryside and even get up close to an eagle – can you believe that you can spot all of them in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire?
No words can describe the beauty of the wildlife to be discovered here in North-east Scotland, so here’s some stunning images that do all the talking for us.:
“Braemar is a village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, around 58 miles (93 km) west of Aberdeen in the Highlands. It is the closest significantly-sized settlement to the upper course of the River Dee sitting at an altitude of 339 metres (1,112 ft).Wikipedia Page
The Gaelic Bràigh Mhàrr properly refers to the area of upper Marr (as it literally means), i.e. the area of Marr to the west of Aboyne, the village itself being Castleton of Braemar (Baile a’ Chaisteil).”
“Braemar is situated in the heart of the outstanding landscape of the Cairngorms National Park in the highest and most mountainous parish in the UK.
Surrounded by mountains, heather moorland, pine and birchwood, it spans the rocky gorge of the Clunie water. For generations, the scenery and pure mountain air have attracted visitors. They come to enjoy walking, climbing, wildlife watching, cycling, canoeing, fishing, stalking, golf and skiing. Within close proximity to over a quarter of Scotland’s Munro’s, the area has been the inspiration for countless writers, artists and photographers and many visitors return again and again.
A cohesive and supportive community of around 450 inhabitants, the village is known around the world for the annual Braemar Gathering. The event attracts around 15,000 people on the first Saturday in September each year and has the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen.
Braemar is situated on the tourist route from Perth to Aberdeen, which climbs over the Cairnwell Pass, the highest through road in the country and follows the River Dee along its picturesque valley. Surrounded by unspoilt and unpopulated countryside, it is however within an hour and a half’s drive of three major cities, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen
Almost all Braemar is now a conservation area. The village is compact with a mix of grand Victorian houses, modest cottages, narrow roads and lanes and retains a unique character.”BraemarScotland
Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 23 miles southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 16 metres 52 feet above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as “Nessie”.
It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich. At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness, ultimately leading to the North Sea via the Moray Firth. It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil.Loch Ness Wikipedia Page
The impressive ruins of Urquhart Castle-located just a few minutes from Drumnadrochit-stand on a tongue of land jutting out into Loch Ness. Set against the backdrop of lake and mountain, the castle, once one of Scotland’s largest fortifications, is at the center of many ancient myths. Dating from the 12th century, it was a typical example of a motte and bailey fortification, but in the 14th century, stone walls replaced the original wooden structure.
Then in 1509, James IV gave the castle to John Grant of Freuchie, who commissioned the extension to the keep, and at the end of the 17th century, the fortified castle fell victim to a fire. Often making appearances in TV shows and movies, the castle was recently featured in an episode of the TV series Outlander . Today, visitors can enjoy on-site facilities including a café, gift shop, and stunning views of the loch.Visiting Loch Ness: 8 Top Attractions & Tours
As you approach the Glencoe area from the south on the main highway – A82, the road passes through Rannoch Moor – a beautiful and wild landscape with mountains and lochs on either side. As your journey continues, the Aonach Eagach Ridge, the Buachaille Etive Mor, Bidean nan Beinn and many others are the main features of this landscape, and one very popular with climbers and walkers.VisitFortWilliam
The West Highland Way – a superb long-distance walk from Glasgow to Fort William passes through Glencoe on its way to Kinlochleven.
Rannoch Moor is memorable, beautiful, unspoiled and awesome. You can’t really appreciate it until you visit it.
One of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe, the Great Moor of Rannoch is a beautiful outdoor space stretching far north and west from Rannoch Station.
The area is a vast stretch of land composed of blanket bog, lochans, rivers, and rocky outcrops which makes it a very challenging environment which still supports varieties of flora and fauna. A wealth of plants, insect, bird and animal life can be seen here ranging from curlews and grouse to roe and red deer.
The best way to get a feel for this unique area is to take a train journey on the famous West Highland Railway as the railway line crosses the moorland for 23 miles and rises to over 1,300 ft.
There is plenty of challenging and exhilarating walks in the remote hills and cycling routes. High mountains are also a feature of the moor although these are best left to experienced hillwalkers with excellent navigation skills. Lower level paths from the Rannoch Station area include a 9 mile linear tramp through to Corrour and Loch Ossian and also a 7 mile circuit of Loch Ossain.
For Outlander fans, Kinloch Rannoch was used as one of its filming locations. Possibly the most iconic Outlander locations, Kinloch Rannoch was used for the site of Craigh na Dun. It is here, in the very first episode, that Claire visits the stone circle and is thrown back in time to 1743. There she meets Captain ‘Black Jack’ Randall, a sadistic British officer, before being rescued by a passing highlander, Murtagh.
There is a visitor centre at Rannoch Moor which showcases the beauty and interest of the moor – its evolution, early historical developments, flora and fauna and the importance of the railway to the area.VisitScotland
Donmouth Local Nature Reserve is a beach site in the historic Old Aberdeen part of the City, where the River Don meets the sea.VistAberdeenshire
A great place to see seals and a range of interesting birds. The beach area has changed over time as the river has changed its course. There are lots of interesting plants in the dunes and beach area. The Bird hide is an excellent shelter from which to watch the wildlife.
The paths run across King Street to the Brig o’ Balgownie, the original bridge in to the City from the North, then down the other side of the river to the sea.
The site was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1992.
Paths are good, although wheelchair access to the beach would be difficult as the boardwalk can get covered with sand.
Arguably one of the most beautiful places in the whole of Scotland, Glen Coe is about 4 hours drive from Aberdeen, near Fort William on the West coast of Scotland.
Glen Coe (Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Comhann) is a glen of volcanic origins, in the Highlands of Scotland. It lies in the north of the county of Argyll, close to the border with the historic province of Lochaber, within the modern council area of Highland. The scenic beauty of the glen has led to its inclusion in the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area, one of 40 such areas in Scotland. A review of the national scenic areas by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2010 made reference to the “soaring, dramatic splendour of Glen Coe”, and “the suddenness of the transition between high mountain pass and the lightly wooded strath” in the lower glen. It also described the journey through the glen on the main A82 road as “one of the classic Highland journeys”. The main settlement is the village of Glencoe located at the foot of the glen. The glen is regarded as the home of Scottish mountaineering and is popular with hillwalkers and climbers.Glen Coe Wikipedia page
“In Scottish history, the glen is forever linked to the Massacre of Glen Coe, which occurred on 13 February 1692. Following the defeat of the Jacobite Uprising of 1689, an estimated 30 members and associates of Clan MacDonald of Glen Coe were killed by government forces, associated with Clan Campbell, who were billeted with them, on the grounds they had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William III of England and II of Scotland and Mary II.
In the eyes of many contemporaries, the unjustified bloodshed was not the principal crime – there had been bloodier events in the history of the Highlands than the massacre at Glen Coe – nor even the fact that survivors were forced to contend with the winter blizzard which caused many to perish while trying to get to safety. It was the fact of slaughter under trust – the breach of hospitality which also broke old Scots’ law.”
“The Massacre of Glencoe was not the bloodiest, not the most treacherous act in the history of the Highlands; but, it was murder under trust that could not be forgiven. The bond of trust, even among enemies which had helped people survive in the wild Highlands was broken for good, it was the beginning of the end; and for that all were to blame.”David McNicoll