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Huntly Castle
Huntly Castle
Grantown on Spey
Grantown on Spey
Strathisla Distillery, Keith
Strathisla Distillery, Keith
Cardhu Distillery
Cardhu Distillery

Speyside Main Page

This area runs roughly along the line of the River Spey and includes the main settlements of Grantown on Spey, Charlestown of Aberlour (or just "Aberlour"), Dufftown, Rothes, Keith and Huntly. Stretching from the foothills of the Cairngorms in the south, it extends to the fertile plains of Moray and includes the largest concentration of scotch whisky distilleries in the country. Everything within our Speyside area is also covered in our Moray, Aviemore & Badenoch or Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire area pages: the purpose of having an additional area bringing Speyside together is to assist visitors who might be planning a visit to this area and who would otherwise find the information fragmented. See the map below for an outline of the area and links to surrounding and underlying areas.

Grantown on Spey lies 15 miles north east of Aviemore and is a popular destination all year round. This is a well designed Georgian town, built to the plan of the laird, Sir James Grant, in 1766. The streets are wide and tree-lined with attractive buildings grouped around a central square. It was a favourite with Queen Victoria and its dry, bracing climate was advised as a tonic for those Victorians with a nervous disposition.

Today the town has comfortable hotels and makes a good base for summer touring. In winter many of those tourists not wishing to engage with the hustle and bustle of Aviemore choose Grantown on Spey. There is plenty to do here including shops and tourist facilities. The Speyside Heather Centre, located south west of Grantown on Spey, provides an interesting excursion.

To the south of Grantown on Spey, on the less travelled south side of the River Spey, is the attractive village of Nethy Bridge. At the north end of the village is the Mountview Hotel. On the opposite side of the Spey is Broomhill Railway Station, the northern terminus of the Strathspey Railway. From here you can catch a steam train to Aviemore. A little north of Nethy Bridge stand the gaunt remains of Castle Roy, close to Abernethy Parish Church. The Abernethy Forest, south of the village, is home to the RSPB's Loch Garten Osprey Centre.

Fishing is a popular pastime in Grantown on Spey and the area is an anglers' paradise. Most hotels hire out tackle or can advise on availability in the town. The Spey is famous for salmon, sea trout and brown trout fishing of the highest quality. The River Spey is also followed through the area by the route of the long distance footpath, the Speyside Way, which links Aviemore with Buckie.

Villages like Aberlour and Carron lie beside the river itself, while the small settlement of Archiestown lies on the northern slopes of the valley. Aberlour is also home to the Aberlour Distillery: and to the factory of Walker's Shortbread. If you follow the A95 from Grantown on Spey to Aberlour you pass through Ballindalloch. A little to the north, though invisible from the main road, is Ballindalloch Castle, complete with its superb gardens. A little south west of Ballindalloch is Cragganmore Distillery, while in the valley to its north east is Inveravon Parish Church and the Inveravon Pictish Stones. A little further north east is Glenfarclas Distillery. On the north side of the river valley is Knockando, home to Cardhu Distillery and the nearby Knockando Parish Church.

Speyside, Showing the Main Settlements and the Surrounding and Underlying Areas
Speyside, Showing the Main Settlements and the Surrounding and Underlying Areas

South of Strathspey you start to climb towards the Cairngorms. The B9008 south from Ballindalloch passes close to Drumin Castle and Glenlivet Distillery en route to the village of Tomintoul. A side turning leads to the remote Braes of Glelivet. Here you find Scotland's highest distillery, Braeval, and a fine church, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Here, too, are the remains of the Catholic Seminary at Scalan. Standing at a height of 345m, Tomintoul is popular with visitors to the nearby Lecht ski resort. It is also the start of a spur of the Speyside Way. Tomintoul Museum, which shares premises with the Tourist Information Centre, is well worth a visit.

If the area's road network has a single focal point, it is probably Craigellachie. This is home to a fine bridge over the river built by Thomas Telford, and to the Craigellachie Hotel. There is also a distillery on the hillside to the south, while another, The Macallan, occupies a fine location to the north of the river. A little way to the south of the village on the Dufftown road is the Speyside Cooperage, a fascinating industry with an excellent visitor centre.

Dufftown was a planned town, established in 1817, though its story as a settlement can be traced at least as far back as the 700s, when Mortlach Church, one of the earliest religious sites in Scotland, was founded. There are seven working distilleries in and around Dufftown. Two of these, Glenfiddich Distillery and Balvenie Distillery are open for tours. Glenfiddich Distillery is overlooked by the ruins of the 13th Century Balvenie Castle. Two miles to the south of Dufftown, the remarkably complete Auchindoun Castle stands in a high moorland location guarding the traditional routes into the mountains.

On the north side of Dufftown is the terminus for the Keith & Dufftown Railway, which as the name implies is a restored line linking Dufftown to the market town of Keith, eleven miles to the north east. Keith is home to the fascinating and extremely pretty Strathisla Distillery.

Rothes, reached by heading north from Craigellachie along the A941, is where you find the very attractive Glen Grant Distillery and, hidden away in the glen behind it, the superb Glen Grant Garden. Overlooking Rothes on its western side is a single imposing wall, all that now remains of Rothes Castle.

At the eastern end of our Speyside area is the town of Huntly, an attractive place of grey stone laid out in a grid pattern. Here you can visit Huntly Castle, which has a long and turbulent history. Almost hidden away in a glen six miles north east of Huntly is Glendronach Distillery.

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