Our With a long weekend ahead we were itching for a chance to get out into the Scottish countryside and do some exploring. With rental cars being pretty cheap (£40 for 3 days from Europcar) and our desire to spend as little time as possible in actual cities, a road trip was obviously in order! Below is a map (with written directions) and photos of our favorite stops along the way. Most of our stops were thanks to my handy-dandy Scottish guidebook – Scotland the Best. We spent a full day driving from Aberdeen to Inverness, a day exploring Glen Affric and Loch Ness and a day driving back to Aberdeen. Our day in Glen Affric and Loch Ness deserved a whole post on it’s own (read here!) – so here is our Day 1 & 3:
Drive Aberdeen Inverness – Roundtrip Road Trip Itinerary
Also please note – all of the distilleries were closed so they’re not included. A reason to do it all again in the summer!
«Click Here» for an interactive version of the map!
Starting on the red route out of Aberdeen. Took the A944 East.
Loch of Skene
Big lake (excuse me, loch) with majestic ‘castle-like’ entry to wooded area with paths. Would be fun to explore more!
Stayed on the A944 heading towards Alford. Continued over a bridge.
Turned left on A97 towards Kildrummy.
Unfortunately Kildrummy Castle was closed, but fun to daydream looking out over the ancient ruins. The Caste Hotel was stunning – would be a picture perfect romantic getaway.
Continue on A97, following it West in Glenkindie (at this point A97 turns back into A944). In the small town of Strathdon turn left at the sign for the local church.
Church in Strathdon
Beautiful old church with graveyard. It was interesting looking at how far the graves dated back.
Get back onto A944, heading West. Public restrooms are on the left right after you turn back onto A944.
Stay right at the fork on A939.
Cock Bridge & Corgarff Castle
We weren’t that impressed by this castle as we drove by. However it is right along the route if you choose to stop! You can see it in the middle of the photo next to Cock Bridge.
Continue on A939.
Beautiful Highland Lookout Point
The road started going straight up and we all immediately thought to the (and now seemingly incredibly humble) road biker we had chatted with. Before we knew it we had arrived at a look out with sweeping views of the valley below. It was beautiful covered in snow. Some neat metal ‘bench-pod’ statutes (horrible description I know) and rocks with carved out peep-holes made the stop even that much more interesting!
Stay on A939 (Old Military Road) until reaching Grantown-on-Spey. Cross the bridge and continue on A939 heading North through town. At the fork stay right, which becomes A940.
Immediately after crossing River Divie turn right.
Closing our eyes we could all imagine the steam from the train billowing up and almost hear the whistles in the distance…
Retrace your path and turn right to continue on A940.
Turn left onto B9007. Keep your eyes peeled for signage on the right and pull-off on the left.
We loved this stop! Great, short and easy hiking trails through the jungly woodlands. Gorgeous river weaving through the rocky gorge with a great swimming hole (it was sunny, but we weren’t that brave!) Really a perfect stop for lunch.
Continue down B9007, crossing A939, and turn right onto Old Military Road towards Dulsie
Can’t miss! Historic bridge that spans over deep rocky canyon. Great little view point with a bit of history on a plaque.
Continue up Old Military Road until reaching Cawdor. Make an odd left turn to arrive at the Castle.
Another reminder of why you should travel Scotland in the summer – the Castle was closed. However, from what we could see, it was stunning with beautiful gardens and located right on the river. Definitely want to make a trip back in the summer!
Turn left on B9090, following the Highland Tourist Route.
Take a left on B9091, stay left onto B9006 and stay left on B851.
At the inn on Culloden Road take a left (immediately after the previous fork). Follow the road straight ahead and the signage for Clava Cairns.
At this point it was getting a bit later into the day and the golden afternoon sunshine made for a beautiful visit. Enormous mounds of rocks piled up so many years ago your mind can’t almost fathom it. Really pretty site – we were lucky and missed any crowd.
Don’t forget to turn around and take in the incredible Nairn Viaduct. We drove closer to just get a better look!
Follow B9006 to A9 into Inverness. Take Millburn Road and park at Eastgate Shopping Center (£2 for 4 hour parking)
Cute, guide-book recommended cafe in downtown Inverness. Had some warm, hearty tomato soup and deep-fried Haggis balls. Great celebratory appetizer upon making it to Inverness.
A can’t-miss spot in Inverness. Castle sits up on top of a hill and looks down over the River Ness and sprawling city. Lucky enough to watch the sunset up here – perfect end to our sightseeing day.
This was the end of Day 1 for us. We stayed in an Airbnb near Kiltarlity (which we loved) and spent the next day exploring Glen Affric and Loch Ness. The following day we headed back to Aberdeen with a completely different route (the blue on the map). Here were our stops on the way home – starting from Drumnadrochit (South of Inverness)
Starting on the blue route on A831 in Drumnadrochit
Somehow we became incredibly lucky and didn’t have to pay to walk through the Loch Ness museum. An informative (and goofily out-dated) video museum of the history of Loch Ness and the mysteries behind the Loch Ness Monster. Don’t know if I would pay to do it again, but it was definitely entertaining.
Continue on A831 (turns into A82) and head North towards Inverness. Follow signs to A96 and head East towards Aberdeen.
Exit on Barn Church Road, Right on Tower Road. Turn right on B9006 to following signage to Culloden Battlefield.
Really a must visit when near Inverness. I’m not usually to excited about ‘battlefields’ but this visitor center does a wonderful job of explaining the Jacobite rising and giving a vivid pictorial of what it might have been like on that historic day. Spent almost 2 hours in the exhibit and walking the battlefield.
As I’m currently reading Outlander, this was such a neat stop!
Get on B9006 heading East (stay left on fork) and turn left onto B9090.
Turn right on A96 heading East. Take a left in Brodie at the Invercairn House B&B and follow signage.
Beautiful castle with awesome gardens, ponds and a playground (Ha! But really, it’s cool). Again, it was closed – definitely would like to make it back in the summer.
Retraced path to head East on A96.
Turn right onto B9011 (Nairn Street). Right on B9010 and then left to head towards Barnhill and Pluscarden. Good idea to have this place on a map to trace your path!
Gorgeous abbey in a stunning setting. Peaceful, remote and spiritual. We were lucky enough to hear the monks ringing the bells and witness it in the golden afternoon sun.
Continue East on that road until it merges with B9010. Continue east onto A96 and head back to Aberdeen.
It really was a fantastic weekend and so much fun to have the flexibility of our own car. Huge thanks to Dalton for his perfect christmas present – the guidebook Scotland: The Best by Peter Irvine … Really was an awesome resource and helped us find many of these wonderful, eccentric places! Definitely recommend it as a great Scotland guidebook.
Hope this gives you some idea of a road trip itinerary for the area – please let me know if I missed some good spots!
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