Steam Trains, Reindeers, Tigers and Polar Bears

Take the A939 south from Nairn towards Grantown-on-Spey.

High St Merchants

High St Merchants

The winding road passes through some lovely Highland scenery as it crosses the Dava Moor. In summer, the hills are ablaze with purple heather. Grantown is a lovely town and it’s worth spending some time there. As you enter Grantown you may like to stop for coffee or lunch at the Garth Hotel – just on your right as you enter the town. There’s also a lovely little bistro in the centre of town – No 7 Bistro. The Grant Hotel also offers coffees and lunches. Further down the High St you’ll find a delightful Art Gallery and Cafe – The High St Merchants. Driving time from Nairn around 25-35mins.

The Grantown Museum is well worth a visit if you’d like to know more about the origins of the town and the Grant family from whom it got its name. Turn left just past the Garth Hotel.

Follow the main road out of town and head towards Aviemore. Look out for signs to Craggan Outdoors – recognised as ‘Best Visitor Attraction’ in the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards 2012. The wide range of activities includes archery, clay pigeon, climbing/abseiling, golf, gorge walking, high ropes, kayaking, mountain biking, River Spey canoe trips, and a zip wire. All taking place in beautiful Speyside scenery at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Might be worth booking a day for a return visit!

Also look for signs to Nethybridge on your left as tucked almost out of site is Broomhill Station – better known as Glenbogle Station from the BBC TV series “Monarch of the Glen”. The Strathspey Steam Railway run regular trains from here to Boat of Garten and Aviemore. You may wish to leave the car in the car park and step back in time for a leisurely 40 minute journey through lovely scenery to Aviemore. Spend time in Aviemore, perhaps having lunch in the Cairngorm Hotel just across from the Station.

A few miles south west of Grantown you’ll find the Speyside Heather Centre, famous for its Clootie Dumpling (boiled fruit cake). The Centre also has a well stocked shop of gifts and Scottish souvenirs.

Aviemore is well-known as a Winter ski resort and, in summer, apart from good restaurants and cafes and interesting shops, there’s not a huge amount to do in the town centre but you may want to come back another day and visit one of the numerous attractions nearby. If you came by car, there is the Reindeer Centre and the Cairngorm Mountain Railway. At the top there are wonderful views and a lovely restaurant. You may also wish to visit Rothiemurcas Estate with numerous activities and the Highland Wildlife Park – 7 miles south of Aviemore, now renowned for Hamish, the first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years. You’ll also find Tigers and Wolves.

Depending on the time of day you may wish to head back to Nairn for your evening meal or stop at one of the restaurants in Grantown-on-Spey.