Discover Tomintoul’s stunning heights and explore some of the hidden histories on a week-long adventure.

Moray Speyside is an area of diversity, from expansive white-sand beaches to rugged, remote, and heather-laden hills that seem to transport you into another sphere entirely. It’s surprising that you can travel between these two different worlds in under one hour, and it really emphasises the diverse nature of Moray Speyside, with Tomintoul epitomising one of these extremes.

Located in the very north of the Cairngorms National Park, at 345 metres (1,131 feet) above sea level, Tomintoul stands as the highest village in the geographic Highlands. The town is surrounded on all sides by the high Cairngorm plateau and striking scenery, making it a wonderful mountain escape with plenty of unique heritage and outdoor activities to be enjoyed. To help you plan your trip here, we’ve summarised an exciting three-day itinerary for you below!

(see bottom of itinerary for a list of accommodation and eating out options)

Day 1 – Tomintoul’s Unique Past

Tomintoul is a great example of an 18th century planned village and was laid out on a grid pattern in 1775 by Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon. By constructing a permanent settlement, the duke hoped to minimise cattle theft and illegal distilling of spirits in the area. Today, the planned nature of Tomintoul is still clearly visible, with a lovely central square and impressive Georgian and Victorian architecture. Upon arriving, it’s worth taking a short wander through the village to see this for yourself.

A day in the village is a delight and there are numerous things to see and do. There is free parking in the town centre and public toilets.

To uncover more tales from Tomintoul’s past, make sure you pay a visit to the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Discovery Centre. No visit to Tomintoul is complete without visiting this community-run centre, where you’ll be able to delve further into Tomintoul’s history. The centre features a great virtual reality exhibit, offering compelling tales from the area’s heritage, and don’t forget to visit the wild cat den exhibition.

Day 2 – Take a Drive South

To discover more about the area’s unique past, drive a few miles south of Tomintoul to the Well of the Lecht Car Park. From here, you can walk a short distance to The Lecht Mine. First opened in 1730, the mine eventually became the largest manganese mine in Scotland, employing over 60 workers at its peak in the 19th century. Nowadays, however, the mine has long been abandoned, with only the crushing mill building remaining. Nevertheless, it makes for a good trip, offering a glimpse into some little-known history.

Another intriguing aspect of the area’s history, which often goes unnoticed, is its links to Catholicism. Just east of Tomintoul lies the Braes of Glenlivet, a remote and expansive plateau. Here you will find the Scalan Seminary and Mills, which originally served as a secret Roman Catholic seminary where priests, known as ‘heather priests,’ were trained during the 1700s when Catholicism was prohibited. The site can be accessed by walking 1 km from the Carrachs car park, or by incorporating it into the lovely 4.5 km Scalan Heritage Trail.

Day 3 and 4 – Adrenaline Packed Activities

Tomintoul is ideally placed for those seeking out adventure packed fun. Due to its mountainous location, there’s an abundance of activities to be enjoyed, from skiing to mountain biking and walking.

If you’re here in winter and you’re up for trying something adventurous, make sure to wrap up warm and hit the ski slopes at The Lecht Ski Centre. The Lecht is located just six miles south of Tomintoul and is one of only five ski resorts in Scotland. Situated at over 2,000 feet and boasting 20 maintained ski runs and 14 lifts, The Lecht is suitable for skiers of all abilities, making for an exhilarating day out.

Alternatively, if you’re visiting outside of winter, drive north to the magnificent Glenlivet Estate. The estate offers a wide range of outdoor activities for every type of visitor to enjoy. Want to go mountain biking? Head to Bike Glenlivet, one of the best mountain bike parks in all of Scotland, offering fun-packed, flowing single-track trails for riders of all abilities. Prefer to keep your feet on the ground? You’ll be spoiled for choice, with walks ranging from low to high level, through forests and open hillside. If mountain biking or walking doesn’t interest you, not to worry, as you can also enjoy fishing, off-road adventures, water sports, and much more on the estate. Please check the Glenlivet Estate website for more information.

It’s not over just yet when darkness falls, as it’s now time to explore the wonder of the night sky. Tomintoul and Glenlivet is one of the best places in the whole of the UK for stargazing, having been designated a Dark Sky Park. After nightfall, it’s worth heading outside to experience it for yourself, and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the northern lights!

Day 5 – Whisky Galore

It’s hard to visit anywhere in Moray Speyside without incorporating something to do with whisky, and Tomintoul is no different. With its rich whisky heritage and links to illicit stills, the area surrounding the village is a great spot for indulging in the details of this fine drink.

The closest distillery to Tomintoul is Tomintoul Distillery, located just a few miles north of the village. Crafted in the Cairngorms and tucked away in picturesque countryside, the natural and unspoiled environment surrounding the distillery can be tasted in every glass of ‘the gentle dram’. Seasonal tours of the distillery are available from April to October. Please check online for availability. It would also be worthwhile to visit the Whisky Castle shop in Tomintoul. The shop has been selling the finest malt whiskies from across Scotland for over 100 years and is a great place to go if you’re looking to add to your collection back home.

The next closest distillery is The Glenlivet Distillery, just 5 miles north of Tomintoul Distillery. The Glenlivet needs little introduction and continually ranks as one of the bestselling single malts in the world. The distillery has heaps of heritage and is beautifully presented. Again, please check online to view and book their whisky experiences.

If you would rather take a slightly different approach to learning about whisky, check out the fabulous Glenlivet Hill Trek. Since 2009, this specialist company has been taking visitors into the hills of Glenlivet and Speyside on whisky-themed tours. With a fleet of 8-wheel off-roaders, there’s a range of tours to choose from, including learning about illicit stills and visiting the ruined foundations of the very original Glenlivet Distillery—the first legal distillery to exist in Scotland. This is where it all began!

Where to Stay

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