Our plans change last minute (this will be in two days) and we are taking a day to drive from Inverness to Aberdeen. Does anyone have a recommended route? We were thinking of stopping at Glenfiddich and I would love to stop at Balmoral. What’s the most scenic option?
You could go down the A9 to Carrbridge, then east to Grantown on Spey and Dufftown for the Distillery.
Then in essence pick up the northern part of the NE250 hugging the North East Coast not forgetting to stop at Cullen (for your authentic Cullen Skink) and Fraserburgh for the lighthouse museum.- https://www.northeast250.com/see-the-route/?_gl=1*17ahcnf*_up*MQ..*_ga*MTM4NzQ3NjY0MS4xNjkxNDM5Mzc1*_ga_H3LVEXZ18H*MTY5MTQzOTM3NC4xLjEuMTY5MTQzOTM5NS4wLjAuMA..*_ga_W433QHK3FB*MTY5MTQzOTM3NC4xLjEuMTY5MTQzOTM5NS4wLjAuMA..
It's likely going to be early evening by the time you pass the Bullers of Buchan. Although it's a bit late in the season now you may still catch the puffins there.
If you want to stop at Balmoral then basically take the southern part of the NE250 instead.
This route is going to be a full day whichever way you do it, but one that shows the area off.
Don't waste your time at Balmoral because unless you really have to visit as part of a "bucket list" I think it offers the visitor very poor value for money.
It is £5 to park your car before you even pay to get into the grounds and when you do there is no access to the castle itself apart from the ballroom, which is small and only offers an exhibition of photographs to look at. The grounds are nice enough but those at Crathes or Glamis are much better in my opinion. The audio guide is nothing special either and you can learn everything you need to know about Balmoral from the internet. It told me nothing new.
Service in the cafeteria was awful and something the management of the castle should be ashamed of. The nearby Highlanders Bakehouse on the other side of the A93 or The Bothy in Braemar are much better.
I suppose the new management is not as good as the old one.
By management I meant exactly that and not the change of monarch.
I hope our new king will set about turning Balmoral estate and castle into an enterprise close to that of Dumfries House and make them tourist attractions worthy of the name. To do this he will need managers who will step up and help him. At the moment he does not appear to have this which is a great shame.
Or you could go hike in The Big Burn, then onto Huntly Castle, Pitmedden Garden, Tolquhon Castle, then East Aquhorthies Stone Circle, to Aberdeen. That is probably faster than either leg of the NE250. That was what I planned for next year until we decided to do the coastal route with two overnights. My wife loves gardens and we both like ruined castles and moderate hikes. We don't care for "operating" castles like Balmoral (or Edinburgh or Stirling, for that matter). It depends on your personal taste !