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History and Heritage on the SnowRoads: 5 days

The SnowRoads links thriving communities where you can explore rich history and heritage ranging from neolithic stone circles and longhouses to castles and forts as well as the myths and legends of giants, fairies and ghosts. Many of the main communities were built as a result of General Caulfield’s military road, and you will notice the unique architecture and town planning within them, with a main square acting as a nodal point for you to discover each of the town’s histories.

DAY 1

A short walk from Blairgowrie along the River Ericht will take you to Cargill’s Leap where you can read about how the famous Covenanter, Donald Cargill, escaped Government troops.  Take a small SnowRoads detour to the village of Alyth, a town in rural Perthshire overlooking the countryside of Strathmore, to visit the museum. This is an area rich in farming, which is an inspiration and resource for the museum collection so enjoy a wealth of pictures and objects reflecting life as it was in and around Alyth.
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Berry growing, Alyth


As you continue on your journey, take a stopover at the Wee House of Glenshee to learn about the history of the roads and also scavenge for other significant points of interest steeped in legend such as the The Clan MacThomas Cock Stone and The Serpent’s Stone.

DAY 2

Braemar is rich in history and heritage.  There are two castles in the village - Braemar Castle and the ruins of Kindrochit Castle - built by a medieval king.  St Andrews Chapel is thought to be the earliest dedication to St Andrew in Scotland.  You can visit the site of the first chapel in what is now Braemar’s graveyard at the east of the village near to Braemar Castle.  In the centre of the village, St Margaret’s, Braemar is being restored by the Community Trust with a programme of events and heritage display but the building itself is a glorious and nationally-significant Victorian gem, the masterpiece of renowned Scottish architect Sir John Ninian Comper. 

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Musicians perform at St Margaret's, Braemar

The Braemar Gathering is always held on the first Saturday in September in The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park.  It is world-famous and regularly attended by members of the royal family who can be seen laughing and enjoying the games, music and dancing.  Opening soon is a World Highland Games Heritage Centre in the games park.  This will display the heritage resources from the accumulated archives, artefacts, trophies and memorabilia relating to the Braemar Gathering dating back to the first games.

DAY 3

On the south side of the River Dee, just to the west of Ballater, sit the ruins of Knock Castle. It’s possible to walk to the castle from the village starting from the Old Royal Station. The ruin is a 16th century, four-storey tower house built for the Gordon family.  Queen Victoria fell in love with this area and built Balmoral Castle nearby.  The Royal Bridge and The Old Royal Station sit at opposite ends of the village with lots of shopping and eating in between. The Old Royal Station has been newly restored and boasts a restaurant run by the Duke of Rothesay’s charitable trust, a tourist centre and a library.  The Gairnshiel Bridge, also known as the Bridge of Gairn, is a steeply arched, rubble-built bridge which was built in 1751.  It crosses the River Gairn with lovely views and photo opportunities.

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The Gairnshield Bridge

DAY 4

The Tomintoul and Glenlivet Discovery Centre is an exciting new attraction in Tomintoul. The new centre includes a new whisky themed Virtual Reality experience, a digital community archive and new displays telling the stories of the communities and highlighting the best things to see and do in the area. From Tomintoul, you can take a walk to the Forbidden College of Scalan where in 1716 Catholic Bishops established a college for priests in a remote spot at the foot of the Ladder Hills in the Braes of Glenlivet.  There are many other historical walking routes around the Glenlivet Estate, you can even follow whisky smugglers routes which are well signposted from car parks.  The Packhorse bridge provides a picturesque location for a picnic and a lovely photo opportunity.
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The Packhorse Bridge, Glenlivet

DAY 5

Take a visit to Grantown 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 can find out about the Scottish enlightenment, some histories of the Grant clan chiefs, how logs were floated down the River Spey, Queen Victoria’s visit to Grantown, a champion fisherman and even a Cuban gunfight.

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The Grantown Museum