Located on the northern edge of the Cairngorms National Park, Tomintoul is the highest village in Highlands. At 345 metres above sea level, it features spectacular landscapes, rugged mountains and, in the winter, regular snow.
It was the Duke of Gordon who commissioned the village, he planned and built it along a military road, it has wide roads, stone-built buildings, and two listed (historically protected) churches.
The Duke built the village hoping to discourage cattle theft and illegal distilling in the area. Unlike Fochabers, (another village the Duke built), Tomintoul was forgotten and neglected.
Venturing out from her newly purchased residence (Balmoral Castle is only 23 miles away), Queen Victoria toured the local Highland villages. She stopped in Tomintoul. Unfortunately, the village did not leave a good impression. Her 1853 description was not flattering – not flattering in the slightest.
Over the next 100 years, a lot of money, effort, and love were invested. This rejuvenation transformed the village into the jewel it is today. Its charming and vibrant main street supports visitors, tourists, and upwards of 750 local residents.
High up in the mountains, Tomintoul is a key location on the Snow Roads – a recently introduced point-to-point tourist route which offers the intrepid adventurer the chance to hop on to ’90 miles of opportunity’ from Grantown-on-Spey, via Tomintoul, to Blairgowrie.
Despite its remote and isolated location, Tomintoul is accessible by car (most of the year). The A939 is an old military road, which connects the village to Grantown-On-Spey on the fringes of Moray.
From Tomintoul you can follow the A939 to Ballater and explore the eastern ranges of the Cairngorms.
Start your visit at the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Discovery Centre. It’s both a tourist information point and a museum. Learn about Grigor Willox, the local white witch, or step into a reconstructed historical scene. An entertaining and informative afternoon for all.
Two interesting historical sites are a fifteen-minute drive south-east: the Lecht Iron Mine and Corgarff Castle. Park at the Well of Lecht to access the eighteenth-century iron mine. It’s not far, a short, pleasant walk through the moors. The second is a medieval tower house maintained by Historic Environment Scotland (It’s said to be haunted by Lady Margaret Forbes). After the Battle of Culloden, the castle was converted into barracks.
Before you visit, and during your stay, keep up to date on local activities and events on the community-managed Tomintoul tourism website.
Accommodation in Tomintoul
Tomintoul is extraordinary in so many ways, including the quantity and variety of accommodations available.
There are also various self-catered options, from small cottages to houses and steadings. The Old Pine Yurt is a more unique way that allows you to connect with nature.
Glenavon Hotel and Hotel Square are near the centre of town and ideally placed for your visit. Richmond Arms Hotel is also centrally based and offers a large selection of rooms. Whether you are passing through or having an extended visit – a night in the highest village in the Highlands is certainly a tick on the bucket list.
Things to do in and around Tomintoul
The area around Tomintoul has both treeless moors and lush forests. It’s also diverse in the activities and adventures available across the local countryside.
Tomintoul is part of the large, Crown-owned Glenlivet Estate. The estate is responsibly managed and well maintained. They advocate the outdoors and a healthy lifestyle. They even have a dedicated mountain bike centre at Glenlivet Bike Trails.
Time it right and you could experience a 200-years-old tradition: the Tomintoul Highland Games. Every third Saturday in July, the villagers (and guests) gather for a day of Scottish festivities. Dress appropriately – visitors are encouraged to join in the fun events.
Craggan Outdoors and Aquaplay specialise in a gorge walking experience like no other. Nearby Bridge of Brown is the backdrop for these guided water adventures. For a more relaxing, inspiring experience, try Tomintours, a photographer-tailored walk with a knowledgeable local.
Tomintoul is not only popular during the summer months but year-round. The Lecht Ski Centre attracts skiers and snowboarders while the ice-covered gorges attract winter climbers.
Due to its location within the Cairngorms Dark Sky Park, Tomintoul is an ideal place to while away long winter nights stargazing and dreaming.
A Scotch Whisky Immersion
Tomintoul is featured in our Whisky Country Itinerary page. The Tomintoul Distillery is located inside the picturesque Glenlivet estate. It dates back to 1964 and still uses the traditional methods to produce their whisky. The distillery offers tours and also has regular whisky and food events.
Undiscovered Scotland – Tomintoul, Undiscovered Scotland Page.
Tomintoul and Glenlivet – Local independent website promoting the town.