accomodations in Scottish Highlands

My wife and I want to spend a few days hiking and sightseeing in the Scottish Highlands. We will be traveling by car, and will be coming from Oban. Any suggestions for a village/town centrally located we could use as a base. We also are "Monarch of the Glen" fans and thought it might be fun to visit that location and walk in the national park. Any thoughts? thanks for your help. Daniel L
Janesville WI

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

Newtonmore is where some scenes were filmed. Some people like Aviemore. It's not my favorite although the location is nice. I stayed in Spean Bridge and enjoyed exploring Monarch of the Glen Territory from that base. You can easily get west to explore places like Ardnamurchan and up to Loch Ness. Pitlochry is a bit further south, but is a town with more to do. The Festival Theatre can have plays or concerts (I heard Aly Bain there once!) and has lots of restaurants. The walk along the rive is nice and it's to the Cairngorms.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
2847 posts

Aviemore makes a good base. There are hikes/walks up Mt. Cairngorm, and on the Rothmurchie Estate. The estate also has lots of other outdoorsy type activities- like horseback riding, canoeing, etc. You can take the restored steam train along the Spey River and they make a stop at the station that was used as the Glen Boggle Station in Monarch of the Glen (there's even a Glen Boggle station sign for pictures!!!). It is a lovely little village. We loved to stay at the Cairngorm Hotel, across from the train station. It looks like a small castle outside and a Scottish hunting lodge inside. And they have some of the BEST food in the restaurant or the pub. In the summer, a piper plays at the entrance around sunset almost every night. You can also get to some great whisky distilleries from Aviemore (Dalwhinnie was our favorite). And there are some good day trip that are easy to do by train or bus- Blair Athol and Blair castle for example. There's a Heather Center and the Reindeer Preserve. Because you will have a car, you can drive to the loch and see the area around the manor house used in the program, too. Though it is not open to the public. You can stop across the loch and see part of the house as well as the gate house.

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

Pitlochry is the town you want and the Craigatin House and Courtyard is the B&B you want.

Posted by Tod
San Diego, CA, USA
218 posts

South of the Oban on the coast is Fort William - the biggest city in the area and very outdoors oriented as it sits at the base of Ben Nevis and is the end point of the West Highland Way and the start of the newer East Highland Way. The Gowan Brae House BnB was very nice and reasonable. Laggan is hardly as place but has a church used in Monarch there is a great BnB there called the Rumblies that has some of the original prop signs used in the town for the series. The walk from Laggan to Newtonmore through Glen Banchor is fantastic - 15 minutes out of town and you feel like you're as remote as the moon. You could easily do it was a day walk and then get a ride or walk the road back as a loop from either place. Newtonmore and Kingussie are the biggest places in the area - Newtonmore is a town and Kingussie is considered more of city - but those are in relative Scottish terms. Newtonmore has the Clan Mac Pherson Museum and the folk museum and the wildlife sanctuary but after a day or two you will run out of new places to eat. The hostel there (the one closest to Laggan within sight of the Clan museum) is clean, well run by some ex road racers and recommended unless you would never consider a hostel. The back country walk from Newtonmore to Kingussie is good but not as nice as Glen Banchor. Kingussie is bigger - has two markets! - and some sites like the Ruthven Barracks and much bird and wildlife watching if that's your thing. If you're there don't miss The Silver Fjord for dinner - seriously - just south of the park on the road out of town. Aviemore is centrally located to the Cairngorms but I didn't care for the town compared to all the other great places I had been. It feels very much like it's there to service the skiers for slopes kind of place. My $.02, have a great trip,
=Tod

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

Just to clarify, Fort William is not south of Oban, but rather the reverse. It's north of Oban and is inland and located at the head of Loch Linnhe. I agree that it has a lot of amenities, but it is very touristy. Spean Bridge is a few miles up the road. Either would work well as a base if you want to base in the west. The road west toward Mallaig is beautiful and if you dip south to Ardnamurchan you'll escape most tourists and see some beautiful scenery. BTW check out Nigel Tranter's stories about the west if you want to get an understanding about this countryside. In particular look at his book Lord of the Isles. Pam

Posted by Daniel
Janesville, WI, USA
13 posts

I want to thank all of you that have responded to my question. I am truly amazed at the depth of knowledge people have about an area that is reletively far away from us here in the US. We have many ideas to choose from know and for that we are grateful! We were in the United Kingdom this spring but had to return to the US due to the passing of a close family member. We can't wait to return, and with your help it will be a joy. Thanks again. Danie and Heather Littlejohn
Janesville WI

Posted by Tod
San Diego, CA, USA
218 posts

Follow-up: Pamela is right, of course, and I misspoke about the location of Fort William versus Oban. Personally, I didn't find Fort William nearly as touristy as Aviemore but I was also there early in the season (Ben Nevis was still getting snow) so I'm sure I haven't seen it in full force. It's a delicate balance finding a town that's large enough to support new places to see and eat at versus small enough to still hold the "charm" of smaller towns. I think I would suggest a few nights here and a few nights there - especially if you're interested in trying local walks. As I said before I highly suggest walking Glen Banchor and in that area the walk in the "Black Wood" near Feagour making the walk up the to Pictish fort "Dun da-Lamh" on top of the hill is well worth the rare Scottish vertical climb. Some really great down multiple valley views. Here are profiles of these walks and this is a really good Highland walk/hike site in general: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/cairngorms/laggan-newtonmore.shtml http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/cairngorms/dundalamh.shtml Have a great trip!
=Tod