North East Scotland, a car trip
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Feb 9, 2013 1:53 PM Last Post By: yudhisthira70
Jan 8, 2013 4:53 AM
North East Scotland, a car tripAfter attending a wedding in Edinbugh, we (dad mum and girl) are planning to rent a car and spend a few days around NE Scotland. Does anyone have an opinion on the places below, and their feasibility in these many days:
Day one - Edinburgh to Stonehaven, visit Dunnottar Castle
Day two - to Kildrummy, visit Craigievar Castle, maybe a stone circle if accessible (does anyone know about the best one around?)
Day three and four - back to Edinburgh through Ballater, Braemar and Glenshee, with two nights in a cute place on the road.
I appreciate any suggestion on things to see, where to sleep, and where to drive through. I understand that this is not the most beaten road, as most tourists head NW, but in a previous trip I was underwelmed by the Great Glen and Skye, and we are looking for something more attractive for a 5 year old girl (fairy tale castles, circles of Stones as in Brave...)
Thank you for the help
Jan 8, 2013 9:07 AM
1For a 5 year old:
http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/community_life_leisure/parks_open_spaces/pos_hazleheadpark.asp (maze, pet's corner).
Day 1 ok (can do St Andrews on the way).
Sorry, can't help with Craigievar Castle, stone circles.
Day 3 and 4 - can easily be done in day. Do not know of any cute places. As an alternative maybe day 2 to Braemar, day 3 north, west and south to Aviemore (see the Reindeer).
If Great Glen and Skye underwhelm you don't expect miracles in the NE.
Jan 9, 2013 1:53 PM
Jan 10, 2013 4:26 AM
3You were a bit unlucky in your previous experiences. It can indeed be a problem that heavily promoted tourist destinations are underwhelming. I agree the Great Glen is very interesting, and the only advantage I can attribute to Loch Ness tourism is the rather selfish one of being pleased that so many tourists are being attracted to such a spectacularly uninteresting part of the country thus leaving more space for me in the nice bits. I have also been underwhelmed by Skye on my visits (and being vertiginous, I think walking the Cuillin ridge would be too scary for me without very attentive guiding - though of course for many it is the finest walking in the land). I would rather go to many other parts of Scotland, though those you are proposing to visit aren't high on my list either.
Here's a gazeteer of stone circles of Aberdeenshire. http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/archaeology/sites/stonecircles/
A friend who lives in Aberdeenshire says he doesn't intend to remain there forever as it is not a very scenically interesting part of Scotland, and such scenery as is easily accessible within relaxed daytrips to him doesn't justify the poor weather he has to put up with by living there. But he is more interested in pretty hills than pretty fishing ports and stone circles, and Aberdeenshire is largely typical agricultural land such as you find in many flat to rolling parts of the UK.
The main attraction of the Braemar area is its royal connections, which don't attract me. The hills of the area are far from the most scenically distinguished in the country. Though I've certainly enjoyed a walk up Lochnagar, as since made popular by a children's book written by HRH Brian himself. The difficulty of the area, for finding cute places, is that there are very few roads, and after Br and Ballater most significant places in the area strung along the A9, which makes them exceedingly accessible and thus tending to be set up to exploit the tourist. You could perhaps investigate the potential of Tomintoul, one of the few villages in the Cairngorms that lies away from the main routes. The SE of the region, the Angus Glens, also has some nice villages, but not in the finest highland scenery. Many people think that, of the A9 tourist places, Aviemore is the most unpleasant, and Pitlochry, while prettier, has a reputation of being very heavily into tourist exploitation, so personally I stay well away from both. If you are stuck on the A9, somewhere such as Blair Atholl or Kingussie probably attracts the more discerning . But personally I'd prefer to get somewhere a little W of the A9: Glenlyon is an area I really like. Further north, Laggan would also get you away from it (though is noted as the area where the Monarch of the Glen tartan soap was filmed, and probably likes to live off it.)
Perhaps another time you'll have a chance to explore some of Scotland's real scenic jewels, which are inevitably a long way from anywhere, such the far NW, and remoter west highland areas such as Moidart and Ardnamurchan.
Jan 10, 2013 2:24 PM
4I think Blair Atholl castle is the prettiest - see images here.
I think Callanish stones on Lewis are prettiest: here.
Not that I should help anyone doing down Dunvegan Castle, and surely the ruins on Skye are lots of fun if you play the right games? If you and your daughter don't like ruins then I don't expect you will like standing stones. As a kid, things I remember liking from Lewis holidays were playing in the blackhouse, the caves on Eoropie beach (finding a seahorse skeleton), chasing sheep, killing jellyfish with sticks (I didn't say we were nice kids), feeding fish to the seals, the walk past the salmon river by Gary beach to the old abandoned village etc... what we didn't like was having long drives on the way through Scotland if we didn't stop to play. Whatever route you take, think about things to do along the way and take lots of short stops - depending on your eventual destinations, consider places like Kilfannan falls (you can paddle in the unlikely event that it's hot), ruins you can play games of hide and seek in, places with videos (e.g. Culloden) etc - and remember kids need the adult to make a place fun if there isn't entertainment laid on or other kids. Visit Scotland's site is quite good for pointing out destinations alongside the routes: http://www.visitscotland.com.
Feb 5, 2013 9:30 AM
Feb 5, 2013 4:12 PM
6The Undiscovered Scotland entry on Alford gives some good info on Craigievar and surrounds. I thoroughly recommend Craigievar as the most perfect-looking "fantasy" (although it is very real!) Scottish castle to visit.
Internet lists of standing stones, recumbent stones and stone circles in Aberdeenshire are nowhere near complete - there are just too many of them. While in the Craigievar/Alford/Donside area I'd recommend checking out the mysterious Maiden Stone on the slopes of Bennachie and indeed climbing Bennachie if you have the energy and time and seeing the Pictish iron age fort on the Mither Tap and taking in the magnificent view in all directions.
People , perhaps infatuated with the depopulated West Coast , tend to be dismissive of North East Scotland as a tourist destination but there is more than enough to see there and the area is rich in prehistoric and Pictish sites as well as more recent Scottish history.
Feb 5, 2013 4:28 PM
7Oh, and for "cute" (don't let the locals hear you saying that) places to stay in Perthshire on the way back to Edinburgh, via Glenshee, I'd recommend Dunkeld or Aberfeldy . Or Comrie or St Fillans .....
For my money, (spectacular Dunnottar apart) the best-looking of the many inland castles in Aberdeenshire are:
roughly in that order.
All have gift shops and cafes and walled gardens to fleece you but most are free to enter the grounds at least.
Kildrummy is a low ruin that won't take up much of your time unless you are a student of its history.
Feb 5, 2013 4:33 PM
8Although the absolute "cutest" village (last time I'm going to use that word in relation to Scotland!) between Aberdeen and Edinburgh has to be Falkland in Fife.
A tour of Falkland Palace with its well-informed guides local people in period costume), will certainly enliven your girl's day.
A bit too close to Edinburgh to justify an overnight stop but well worth having a look.
Feb 8, 2013 5:56 AM
Feb 8, 2013 11:21 AM
10Yes and yes. Edinburgh airport is on that side of Edinburgh. In light traffic it wouldn't be much more than 40 minutes away.
For B&B there, it's hard to beat Ladywell house, if you can afford it.
Feb 8, 2013 11:25 AM
Feb 9, 2013 1:53 PM
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
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