I'd like suggestions for route and not-to-miss sights on a drive from Inverness to Edinburgh, where we will turn in our rental car. We're not big whisky drinkers, but wouldn't mind a distillery stop (or two) in memory of my dad-who was! We do love the outdoors and hiking.
We're planning a similar trip, except in reverse, so I don't have any first hand experience to pass along. I will say that I am finding the RS guidebooks, and Lonely Planet guidebooks, are helpful when used with Google Maps. I have no sense of direction, and geography is lost on me, so plugging in sites that interest us into Google Maps has been a great way for me to see where things are in relation to where we will be.
You have lots of options. I'll let you know about the ones I know about or have actually been to. And I'll focus on heading down the center.
As you head down the A9 you'll go through the Cairngorm Mountains. You'll pass Aviemore, which does have lots of things including some wonderful hikes on the Rothiemurchus Estate, but I would keep going to Kingussie where the Highland Folk Museum is. There are some good exhibits and it's right off the road.
If you have watched The Monarch of the Glen, then Newtonmore might attract you as it was one of the locations used in the series. If you took a long side trip down the A86 you'd see the house that they used. But then you'd want to backtrack.
Back on the A9 you go past the Dalwhinnie Distillery, which is a good whisky, I can't speak for the tour. :)
Continue south to Blair Atholl. This is a pretty good castle. It could eat up a lot of your day if you wanted to let it. It was when the Stuart Kings / Pretenders were battling William and Mary. It was nice little visitor center. There's a small walk and if you're into trains, the it goes right by in the woods.
Just past Blair Atholl is Killiecrankie where a big battle was fought.
South of Killiecrankie is Queen's View. There's a tea shop and the view is wonderful. At this point if you want a beautiful drive, continue west on the B road (8019). You can drive all the way out to Loch Rannoch. Head to the south side of the loch and you can pick up a wee road that will take you south and back east a bit and over a shoulder of Schielhallon to the Loch Tay side. You can either continue east into Aberfeldy and climb the Birks--nice walk past a waterfall. and then either head back to the A9 or go to the south side of the Loch and visit the Crannogg Centre. You can continue east along Loch Tay to Killin--more nice waterfalls--then head south to the Trossachs on the A85. Stop at Rob Roy MacGregor grave. Callandar has a good visitor center. From their you head south past Doun--Monty Python Castle--to Stirling--wonderful castle--past Bannockburn and on to Edinburgh.
If you head west up Glen Lyon instead of going to Aberfeldy, you will see a beautiful Glen, the oldest yew tree in Britain (Europe?) at Fortingal and then you can wind your way past the reservoir and down to Killin.
This misses out a lot of other places south of Queens View, but I'll list them separately if someone hasn't already done so.
So, if you decide to get back on the A9 after the Queens View, you have more things to see.
Pitlochry--there is a very nice distillery--Atholl that I did visit and had a good tour. Also, in Pitlochry is the Explorers' Garden which is quite good. There is also the Edradour Distillery that Rick Steves speaks quite highly of. The Festival Theatre is quite good, but if you're just passing through, then you probably won't have time.
Birnam and Dunkeld--I quite like these two towns. Dunkeld has a lovely town square with restored little houses and the cathedral that was the original seat of religion in Scotland before it went to St. Andrews. There is a great bridge over the Tay River--beside it in Dunkeld is the Taybank, a wonderful pub. Personally, I stay in Dunkeld whenever I can so I can go there! In Birnam, you have Birnam Wood, and this is a bit of Beatrix Potter Territory with a wee garden dedicated to here friends. There are lots of lovely walks.
Just north of Perth is Scone and Scone Palace.This is where Scottish King's were crowned. Read about the traditions of emptying a bit of dirt when each King was crowned.
I've not spent much time in Perth, it's a very old town.
You pick up the M90 just south of Perth and it will take you on to Edinburgh. There are of course, lots of thing to see and do in the Kingdom of Fife, but I would do them as day trips from Edinburgh.
Pam, once again you've given me great suggestions and a lot to think about. I think I must find a way to make a pilgrimage to Doune castle since I won't be able to make the Monty Python reunion this summer. I love a good pub recommendation and will try to make it to Taybank as well!
Cynthia, if you haven't checked it out already, undiscoveredscotland.com is also a great resource!
Thank you, Jenny
@Cynthia-correction: the website is undiscoveredscotland.co.uk. Really love this site!