Loch Ness, Inverness & Moray Speyside - Heritage, Highlands and Distilleries

Inverness, Loch Ness and Moray Speyside

4 Days

An area steeped in 10,000 years of history and heritage, Loch Ness, Inverness and Moray Speyside  provide a stunning backdrop for a region which is home to so many historical sites, including ancient burial grounds, classic castles, single malt whisky distilleries and traditional kilt makers – all while being only a stones throw from the Scottish Highlands.

Getting There

This region is served by Inverness and Aberdeen airports, and is most easily explored by car or guided tour.

Inverness is just a 90 minute flight from London’s airports and there are daily flights from Gatwick and Heathrow, and it is also easy to travel to Inverness by train, either on the East Coast mainline operated by Virgin Trains East Coast or by ScotRail. For those wishing to travel overnight, the Caledonian Sleeper is a great way to travel from London Euston, and wake up refreshed in Scotland. There is plenty of accommodation in Inverness and the surrounding areas.

Elgin, an ideal base from which to explore Moray Speyside can be reached by train from Inverness (45 minutes) or from Aberdeen (1 hour 30 minutes), and Loch Ness is just half an hour from Inverness.

Day 1

Gordon Castle and Johnstons of Elgin

Gordon Castle

The first day of this itinerary starts off at Gordon Castle, a family owned 15th Century castle complete with a walled garden, superb salmon fishing and a fantastic, locally sourced eatery, set within the grounds of one of Scotland’s finest sporting estates.

Experience an array of traditional country sports including eight miles of fly-fishing beats with ghillie support on the world renowned River Spey. All visitors are looked after by a dedicated team of staff who will deliver tailor made itineraries to suit individual requirements.

Fort George

Frequency: Walled Garden
Sunday to Thursday -10.00am to 4.00pm (last orders from kitchen – 2.30pm)
Friday & Saturday – 10.00am to 5.00pm (last orders from kitchen – 3.00pm)
Reservations for lunch or afternoon tea should be made 24hrs in advanceFishing
February – SeptemberPlease enquire for availability
Private tours: Available on request.
Contact: +44 (0)1343820244
admin@gleco.co.uk
FIT or Groups: FIT or groups.

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Johnstons of Elgin

Next up, visitors can take a guided tour around Johnstons of Elgin’s working mill to discover outstanding quality in the making and watch as the cashmere is dyed, teased, carded, spun and hand finished by the latest generation of Elgin craftsmen.

There is a unique Five-Star visitor centre at the original 220-year-old mill on the banks of the River Lossie in Elgin, nestled in the heart of Moray Speyside, and visitors can also enjoy a spot of shopping at the Mill shop and The Courtyard.

Bespoke tour packages are available including breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea options at our coffee shop which has Taste our Best accreditation from Visit Scotland, meaning your clients will enjoy quality local food.

Supplier Information

Name Johnstons of Elgin
Category Attraction
Profile A unique Five-Star visitor centre at our original 220-year-old mill on the banks of the River Lossie in Elgin, nestled in the heart of Moray Speyside.
Phone 01343 554095
Email s.marshall@johnstonscashmere.com
Website https://www.johnstonscashmere.com
Min - Max capacity: Parties of all sizes can be catered for - for tours, large groups will be split into smaller groups.
Frequency: Scheduled tours are available between 10am and 4pm.
Private tours: Private tours can be arranged in advance.
FIT or Groups: Both
Translation: Tours can be aided with the following languages - Spanish, German, French, Italian, Polish and Welsh.
Day 2

Clava Cairns, Fort George, Cawdor and Tomatin

Clava Cains

Day two of this itinerary starts at Clava Cairns, 6 miles outside Inverness. This free of charge attraction is the site of an exceptionally well preserved group of prehistoric burial cairns that were built about 4,000 years ago. The Bronze Age cemetery complex comprises of passage graves, ring cairns, kerb cairn, standing stones in a beautiful setting and the remains of a chapel of unknown date.

But Outlander fans beware. The Bronze Age burial complex contains a large ‘split stone’. So if you are passing through on Beltane and hear the stones begin to buzz, proceed with caution.

Website: Clava Cairns

Fort George and Highlanders’ Museum

Fort George is one of Europe’s mightiest artillery fortifications. This enormous military base dates back to the 18th century, and is protected by almost 1.6KM (1 mile) of massive walls.

Defences bristling with cannons, historic barrack rooms, a superb collection of weapons and the peaceful Regimental Chapel are among the many fascinating attractions. And the recently refurbished Highlanders’ Museum is home to the largest number of military artefacts outside London – telling the story of the Highland Regiments from just after the Battle of Culloden up to the present day.

Fort George

Frequency: 1 April to 30 September:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm
1 October to 31 March:
Monday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Translation: No

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Highlanders’ Museum

Min – Max Capacity: 1 – 40
Frequency: Summer 1st April – 30th September
9.30am – 4.45pm
Winter 1st October – 31st March
10.00am – 3.15pm
Closed at weekends Dec’ and Jan’
Private tours: Yes – on request
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Translation: No

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Cawdor Castle

Scotland is home to some of the most beautiful castles in Britain, and just 15 minutes’ drive from Fort George is Cawdor Castle – a fairy-tale fortification, and home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor. With its low doorways, turnpike stairs, rare tapestries and original kitchen it offers a step back in time for those keen to learn more about Scottish history. Outside the castle walls, garden lovers can enjoy spending a few hours exploring the herbaceous borders, roses, rhododendrons and the rare blue poppy in Cawdor’s three outstanding gardens.

And after enjoying a nature trail amongst the splendid trees in Cawdor Big Wood, what better way to recharge one’s energy than with a delicious slice of cake, or a mouth watering meal, made from the finest local ingredients, at the Cawdor Courtyard Restaurant and Clubhouse Coffee shop?

Tour Details

Min – Max Capacity: From 1 to 90 – groups would be staggered through the Castle and gardens max capacity 20 per Castle room at one time
Frequency: The castle and gardens are open every day from 10am till 5pm from until October.
Outside of these times private tours are possible by arrangement.
Private tours: Yes – on request
Contact: info@cawdorcastle.com
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Translation: German, French, Spanish, Italian

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Tomatin Distillery

A perfect opportunity for a taste of Scotland comes in the form of Whisky at Tomatin distillery and visitor centre. Just 16 miles south of Inverness, this is a great opportunity to stop off and experience one of three tours which demonstrate the Whisky making process and give vistitors a chance to sample the produce.

Visitors can choose from the Legacy Tour, the Taste of Tomatin Tour or the Single Cask Experience, all of which show different elements of this fascinating distillery.

Tour Details

Min – Max Capacity: Regular tours 1 – 12
Bespoke group tours up to 30
Frequency: High Season
March 27th 2017 – October 29th 2017
9.30am to 5.30pm, Monday – Sunday
Low Season
November 1st 2016 – March 26th 2017
10am to 4pm, Monday – Saturday
12pm to 4pm, Sunday
Festive Season
Closed 24th, 25th and 26th of December and 1st of January.
Private tours: Yes – on request
Contact: visitors@tomatin.com
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Translation: Printed notes in Chinese, Russian, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japaense

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Day 3

Beauly and Loch Ness

Beauly Priory

Beauly Priory is one of three priories founded in Scotland in about 1230 for monks of the Valliscaulian order. The Valliscaulians came from Val-des-Choux (‘Valley of the Cabbages’) near Dijon in France, and adhered to strict ideals of poverty, chastity and obedience. Now all that remains is the ruins of a pretty, tree-fringed abbey church but it offers a fascinating step back in time to where the monks and their successors lived for 300 years. Beauly Priory is free to visit.

VIsit Website: Beauly Priory

Campbell’s of Beauly

Looking for off the peg tweed coats, jackets, skirts and plus fours? Look no further!

Campbell’s of Beauly is packed with original fittings and traditional work counters giving it a unique feel and sense of history. With its reputation for stocking the finest knitwear, which is all knitted in the Scottish borders and Aberdeenshire, and with a wide range of colours and styles available in cashmere, geelong lambswool, shetland wool and merino, there is no finer place to stock up on Scottish countrywear!

Visit Website: Campbell’s of Beauly

Corrimony Chambered Cairn

Half an hour by road from Beauly is Corrimony Chambered Cairn – a circle of standing stones and ancient passage grave, dating back 4,000 years.

This ‘Clava type’ cairn is in a remarkable state of preservation, and demonstrates the skill and planning of its builders, with much of the passage’s roof still surviving today. Corrimony Chambered Cairn is free to visit.

Visit Website: Corrimony Chambered Cairn

Urquhart Castle

Either as a part of a boat tour, or as a trip in its own right, to visit Urquhart Castle is to discover more than 1,000 years of history perched on the edge of Loch Ness.

Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. Control of the castle passed back and forth between the Scots and English during the Wars of Independence. Blown up during the Jacobite Risings, Urquhart’s iconic ruins now remain, offering glimpses into medieval times and the lives of its residents. Visitors can climb the Grant Tower, peer into a prison cell and admire the full sized working trebuchet to get a real feel for how life was when the castle was a hive of activity and drama.

Supplier Information

Min – Max capacity: 1 – several hundred
Frequency: Open
1 April to 30 September:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 6pm1 October to 31 October:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5pm1 November to 31 March:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 4.30pmNew Year’s Day (1 January): 11am to 4.30pmLast entry is 45 minutes before closing.Closed:
25 and 26 December
Private tours: Yes – on request max 30 per guided tour
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Contact: trade@hes.scot
Translation: Both

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Hootananny

After dinner in one of Inverness’ many fabulous restaurants, the final stop for the day is Hootannay – an award winning pub and live music venue in the heart of Inverness. Ideal for anyone wanting to hear tradtional Scottish music, whilst enjoying a drink, or a bite to eat.

Day 4

Moray Speyside

Ace Adventures

The final day starts with rush of adrenaline at Ace Adventures. Discover a range of thrilling experiences on the River Findhorn, a natural waterway set within a stunning landscape.

Activities range from a White Water Rafting and Cliff Jumping adventure that flows through woodland, traditional highland farmland, local game estates, dramatic towering gorges and ancient red-sandstone cliffs, to the Canyoning experience that begins with a 45 foot abseil down an impressive corkscrew waterfall.

Supplier Information

Name ACE Adventure & Hideaway
Category Accommodation
Profile 5 Star Outdoor adventure & glamping centre in Morayshire. White water rafting, canyoning, river tubing, canoe/kayak, disc golf and paintball. We cater for all; families, couples, stag & hen groups, corporate groups, school/youth groups.
Phone 01309 611729
Email info@aceadventures.co.uk
Website https://aceadventures.co.uk
Min - Max capacity: 2 - 60
Frequency: Daily
Private tours: Yes
FIT or Groups: Yes
Extra information: Happy to work with Travel Trade.

Caorunn Gin at the Balmenach Distillery

The Caorunn Gin Tour is located at the Balmenach Distillery – one of the quintissential speyside distilleries. Balmenach Distillery is steeped in heritage, having been one of the first in Scotland to be licensed in the production of Scotch Whisky in 1824.

Guests on the Caorunn Gin Tour will gain an insight into the artisanal production process through a behind-the-scenes tour of the production area. After the tour visitors will then enjoy a tutored deconstructed nosing and tasting session. Each session features Caorunn’s five locally foraged and six traditional botanicals, botanical essences, and a neat sample of Caorunn. The experience then closes with a refreshing Caorunn and tonic with crisp red apple wedges.

Supplier Information

Name Caorunn Gin Visitor Experience
Category Attraction
Profile A dry and crisp, aromatic taste adventure. Intimate and personal tours. Insight into Caorunn’s artisanal production process, botanical garden and foraged local ingredients. Behind-the-scenes tour of the production area. Tutored deconstructed nosing and tasting session.
Phone 01479874933
Email Contact@caorunngin.com
Website https://www.caorunngin.com/caorunn-gin/book-a-gin-tour/
Min - Max capacity: No minimum. Maximum 9 PAX.
Frequency: Once daily Monday-Friday through Winter. Twice Daily Monday - Thursday & once on Friday through Summer.
Private tours: Only for larger bookings e.g. minimum 7 PAX.
FIT or Groups: Both.
Translation: No.
Extra information: All bookings must be made in advance.

Ballindalloch Castle Estate & Single Malt Distillery

Nestled deep in the beautiful Spey valley is the last stop of the itinerary.

Ballindalloch Castle is a tasteful blend of middle-ages fortification and Victorian gentrification. Visitors can tour the castle and see the spectacular rooms for themselves, enjoy a spot of double-bank fishing on the River Spey, or experience some of the fantastic activities offered at Ballindalloch Single Malt Distillery.

Clients can enjoy a range of whisky experiences at the distillery, ranging from tours and tastings, to a full day of whisky making. Advanced booking is essential for all distillery activities.

Supplier Information

Name Ballindalloch Castle and Gardens
Category Attraction
Profile “From immersing yourself in the history of the Castle, its architecture and interiors, to relaxing in the Gardens or taking some refreshment in the Tea Room, I hope that you will be tempted to make the trip to Speyside to visit us.” Guy Macpherson-Grant
Phone +44(0) 1807 500205
Email enquiries@ballindallochcastle.co.uk
Website http://www.ballindallochcastle.co.uk
Min - Max capacity: Max 50
Frequency: Self-guided
Private tours: Yes, by prior arrangement
FIT or Groups: All
Translation: Room Notes in Spanish, German, French and Italian
Extra information: Open Easter Friday until the 30th September – closed on Saturdays.

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