The Heart of the Shropshire Hills
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The Neighbouring Villages
It is little wonder that the villages sited around Aviemore were used as ‘Monarch of the Glen’ country, whilst filming the series which brought to the notice of so many, the beauty of the Scottish countryside. These are not ‘chocolate box’ villages – they are some of the most interesting and active places imaginable whilst still retaining their charm, warmth and sense of stability in an ever changing world. The atmosphere of these villages is as of the past, at the same time as the awareness of the 21st century.
Boat of Garten
Boat of Garten is situated in a strikingly beautiful valley, home of the Osprey and Strathspey Steam Railway. No wonder the Osprey chose the safe haven of Loch Garten, about 1.5 miles to the west of the village, to return to, after a worrying absence and near extinction. This is now an RSPB Reserve – Abernethy Forest. Lisi’s Log Cabin & Wood Gallery begs a visit to enjoy the display of unusual woodcarvings, sculptures and ceramics. www.boatofgarten.com
This is a pretty village with an eye catching and varied type of housing, including an impressive village hall. Carrbridge contains an extremely interesting Artists Studio and Pottery and Workshops are held so you can try your hand at both potting and painting. The feature that is most noticeable and publicised, however, must be the picturesque ‘hump back’ packhorse bridge that spans the tumbling river below. An awesome glimpse of an ancient craft seldom found today. www.carrbridge.com
This is an attractive village, which lies beside Rothiemurchus Estate and Loch Morlich. Set in a vast area of woodland the Hilton Hotel must be one of the largest visitor attractions in the area offering a diverse programme of activities for all the family to enjoy. The Fun House, within its grounds, is particularly good for a family day and is a wonderland for children. Situated as it is, Coylumbridge is an ideal place for cycling, water sports, walking and studying Wildlife. An ideal family visit.
This is a peaceful Georgian town once favoured as a Spa town by Queen Victoria, with streets and vista pleasing to the eye and calming to the spirit. Situated beside the Spey it is an important part of the Whisky Trail and serious occupation of salmon fishing. The Museum has a good exhibition displaying the history of the town since its inception in 1765. It houses the Robe and Chain of Office used in the filming of ‘Monarch of the Glen’ and is also wheelchair friendly. www.grantownonspey.com
Sited in one of the most impressive areas of natural beauty in sight of the magnificent Cairngorm Mountains, Kincraig enjoys all the normal visitor attractions. However, in 1972 the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (a registered charity) opened The Highland Wildlife Park – one of the most spectacular settings in which to enjoy the sight of animals both past and present. Part of the Park may be driven by car only but there are ‘themed’ areas that may be enjoyed on foot. A really unique experience. The Leault Farm Working Sheepdogs offers an opportunity to see real working sheepdogs in action, sheepdog demonstrations and sheep shearing. A favourite with the children (and adults?) is bottle feeding the orphan lambs. Loch Insh Watersports and Skiing Centre has a programme of Summer watersports and Winter snow skiing. www.kincraig.com
Kingussie is a village of wonderfully wide streets and gracious, warm stoned architecture. It has an inviting aura that entices one to stop a wee while and visit. The village boasts such diverse activities as interesting shops – Craft Companions offer Workshops in cardmaking and glass painting and has a Craft club on Thursdays and McIntosh Gallery/Flying Carpets displays local artists’ work and oriental carpets from Afghanistan – to an excellent Shinty team! (One of the best in the Highlands). www.kingussie.co.uk
It is difficult to imagine that this quietly attractive village, surrounded by Scots Pine forest, was once a bustling industrial area dealing with timber and iron ore. It does now enjoy the fame of the unique, creative and individual pottery made by Rob Lawson at Nethybridge Pottery. A natural product from an unspoilt landscape, what could be more ‘right’ than that! Nethybridge also boasts a bridge, in the centre of the village, however its housing is not so readily on view but hidden in ‘quiet’ places. Again – a beautiful place to holiday and enjoy the surrounding gifts of nature. www.nethybridge.com
So we come to Newtonmore – one of the last but not the least of the villages that must surely beckon, at the head of the Spey Valley. Enjoying idyllic surroundings Newtonmore is separated from its neighbour Kingussie by a few miles of pleasing farmland and both villages have a wonderful Highland Folk Museum depicting 300 years of Highland history to wet your appetite. There are too many artefacts and attractions to list here – so – go and see for yourself. Newtonmore also has a Clan MacPherson Museum, Highland Potteries not to mention an exquisite musical production Waltzing Waters. www.newtonmore.com
Places of Interest
Balmoral Castle Originally built in 1628 and garrisoned by government troops, it became the favourite holiday home of Queen Victoria and her descendants, not least our present Queen Elizabeth who celebrated her 80th birthday this year. This is a wheelchair friendly attraction.
Ballindalloch Castle set in the wonderful Spey valley, near Craigellachie is quite different and has been lived in, quite happily, by the Macperson-Grants since 1546. A family home containing a fine collection of Spanish paintings Ballindalloch is also home to the oldest herd of Aberdeen-Angus in the world, founded in 1860. This is a wheelchair friendly attraction.
Urquhart Castle near Inverness was built in the 13th century The waters of Loch Ness formed a protection from the rear whilst the approach was defended by a walled causeway and drawbridge. In 1546 it was besieged by the Macdonald clan only to be blown up in 1692 by government supporters to prevent the Jacobites claiming it.
Brodie Castle by Forres lays in extensive parkland, suitable for all ages, now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It’s origins lie in the 16th century with 17th and 19th century additions but was originally owned by the Brodies of Brodie. The family influence is quite tangible, with a fresh feel to the interior of the castle and exhibits a wonderful family collection of water colours. This is a wheelchair friendly attraction.
Auchgourish Gardens, Boat of Garten Located on B970, 3 miles South of Boat of Garten, this is a specialist botanic garden and arboretum, opened in 2001, under continuous construction so access is dependant on development works. Parking on level ground, however, moderate to steep gradients and gravel paths limit access to users of powered chairs or 4-wheeled scooters, with most areas negotiable with care. Nearest public facilities in Boat of Garten. Opening hours are subject to weather.
Boat of Garten Community Garden, Boat of Garten Located beside the Steam Railway Station with tarmaced parking adjacent. Level entry to smooth, sloping pathway to a circular space with handrails, seats and resting spaces for wheelchairs. The point of interest is that the garden is a smallscale amphitheatre, with central pavings and lawn, designed for performances or functions. Wheelchair friendly public toilet 150m up main road, behind the Village Hall.
Kingussie Public Gardens, Kingussie Located at the South end of the village between High Street and Spey Street. Parking and Toilets available at Ardvonie carpark behind Duke of Gordon Hotel (250m). Access is via a ramped entrance from High Street but a level entrance from Spey Street. Paths are designed for wheelchairs, wide and level.