The SnowRoads truly offers something for everyone. There’s enough to do that visitors can return again and again to set themselves against the route and discover something different each time.
DAY 1: BLAIRGOWRIE
Nestled under an hour’s drive from both Perth and Dundee, Blairgowrie and its surrounds act as the gateway to the Cairngorms National Park. The best place to start for any tourist is the Cateran Trail, a 64-mile circular walking route, which starts and finishes in Blairgowrie and allows you to stroll through its historical landscape to spot features such as stone circles or to walk along the River Ericht to see the old textile mills and Cargill’s Leap. The Cateran Trail has inspired artists to create a book called ‘A Story of the Cateran Trail in 100 Objects’ which tells tales of the Bluebell Forest, the fairies of Glenshee and the legend of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, the famous Irish Giant. The Bluebell Woods, Blarigowrie
Take a day to explore parts of the trail and spot some of these objects using the town of Blairgowrie as your base. As one of the busiest towns in Perthshire you will find plenty places to eat, shop and stay all year round. Blairgowrie Farmer's Market, The Wellmeadow
DAY 2: GLENSHEE
Day two is an opportunity to venture into the mountains of Glenshee. The area is hard to beat when it comes to offering a mix of yin and yang. On one hand its home to one of Scotland’s ski resorts and year-round sports and on the other it’s a wilderness of wildlife where you can truly get away from it all. The ski area boasts the largest lift system in the UK with over 38 runs over three valleys. Glenshee Ski Centre
It’s wild, rugged backdrop adds extra thrills for any explorer on skis, foot or bike. All year round you can take a trip up to the top of the chairlift for fabulous views. There’s also opportunity to spot rare and endangered wildlife and birds and a visit to Auchintaple Loch is great to tick some off your list. Even the adrenaline junkies will be tired out after a day here and ready to flop in front of a roaring fire or grab some grub at the Spittal of Glenshee, the focal point where the four glens meet. This is also the accommodation hub where you’ll find all manner of beds available, from treehouses to log cabins.
DAY 3: BRAEMAR
Braemar is the highest and most mountainous parish in the UK and offers a great base for adventure along the SnowRoads. But it also offers an abundance of wonderful, wildlife filled low-level walking. Visitors delight in these well signposted walks with views of the many Munros (mountains over 3000ft) which surround the village. This includes views over the village from Creag Choinnich, a small hill accessible from the centre. A view from Creag Choinnich, Braemar
There are two castles, Braemar Castle where local volunteers can explain the rich history of the area in a tour, and the ruins of Kindrochit Castle. The Linn of Dee is a short drive from the village on the Mar Lodge Estate, a fantastic geological feature with plenty parking. The Linn of Dee, Braemar
There are also opportunities to watch the world go by from one of the cafes which cantilever out across the river and you should check the events programme at St Margaret’s, Braemar where the Community Trust has organised a calendar of concerts, performances and exhibitions.
DAY 4: CRATHIE
Nearby Braemar in the small hamlet of Crathie, you can visit the fantastic Balmoral Castle, where the Queen and members of the royal family spend their summers. The castle boasts stunning grounds and gardens, exhibitions and has a lovely restaurant and gift shop. Balmoral Castle
You can also take a tour of the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, learning about how expert craftsmen make the whisky and, of course, enjoy a tipple fit for the Queen. Take a peek inside Crathie Kirk, a beautiful church which is the regular place of worship of the royal family.
Head to Ballater for the evening for a range of accommodation options and places to eat and perhaps even some live music.
DAY 5: BALLATER AND DINNET
Explore Ballater, the largest village in the eastern Cairngorms National Park. A picturesque high street offers an abundance of cafes and shops. It’s a perfect sporting hub and you can indulge in outdoor pursuits including golf, tennis, 4x4 safaris, wildlife tours, mountain biking, fishing, shooting and stalking. Why not rent a bike and take it to one of the surrounding natural beauty spots, such as Loch Muick or to the Cambus O’ May where you can buy some local cheeses? Loch Muick, Ballater
In nearby Dinnet, The Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve is a must-do. It boasts a visitor centre and various waymarked walks with many opportunities to spot wildlife and insects. A circular walk through pleasant pinewoods takes in the impressive geological feature known as the Burn O’ Vat, a deep water gouged bowl that you can enter for great photo opportunities. On a sunny day, the picnic benches at the site make a beautiful place to stopover for a snack.
Burn O'Vat, Dinnet
DAY 6: UPPER DONSIDE AND TOMINTOUL
If you haven’t satisfied your castle fix quite yet, a visit to Corgarff Castle as you drive onwards on your journey through Upper Donside, is wonderful. You can also take in views of the castle from The Watchers Art Installation. Corgraff Castle
If you enjoy art, then the nearby Lost Gallery displays dramatic oil paintings by Peter Goodfellow and other Scottish artists. Surrounded by trees it’s also a fantastic place to spot red squirrels and birds. Continue over the hill to Tomintoul. The highest village in the Cairngorms also has the most concentrated population and so the main street boasts a deli, art gallery, post office, gift shops, cafes, a whisky shop and a new modernised Discovery Centre with virtual reality displays and a warm welcome. Learn about the village history at The Tomintoul and Glenlivet Dicovery Centre
Just outside, The Still Art Exhibition boast views across the area reflected in its sides. Its also regarded as a premier spot for mountain biking with 100s of miles of routes. Finally, it’s a great way to take in the wonders of a highland night sky, with a Dark Sky Discovery Site. So, enjoy a day full of activities and a night brimming with stars.
DAY 7: GRANTOWN-ON-SPEY
Grantown’s thriving high street has its own unique character with quirky cafes and unusual shops. There are many hotels and places to sit and relax with a cuppa and a cake. It even boasts an award-winning bookshop, antiques shop, museum and traditional iron mongers. New Spey Bridge, Grantown
Take a visit to the museum where a permanent display and galleries tell Grantown’s story in a fresh way. Collections include lots of brilliant objects and a new children’s exhibition all about inventions and inventors. Digital tools allow you to delve deeper into the stories on display. You learned about Scottish whisky on day four, but the nearby Balmenach Distillery is home to Caroun Gin and can take a Scottish gin tour. Booking in advance is essential.