Grantown on Spey is a small town in The Great Glen and Strathspey in the central Scottish Highlands. To the west is the "strath" or broad valley of the River Spey, which here narrows to descend east through the Cairngorms towards the coast in Moray. Grantown was a planned settlement built on a grid pattern from 1765, and has long been a Highland holiday resort. Brief visitors include Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, while future Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi lived here with her young family for most of 1975.
Nearby small villages also described on this page are Dulnain Bridge, Nethy Bridge and Cromdale.
The nearest mainline station is Aviemore, which has trains every hour or two from Edinburgh and Glasgow via Perth, heading for Inverness.
Stagecoach Highlands Bus 34X runs every couple hours from Aviemore via Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge to Grantown (30 min). Three per day continue to Dulnain Bridge, Carrbridge, Tomatin and Inverness.
You need a car unless you enjoy cycling in the rain.
- 1 Grantown Museum, Burnfield Avenue PH26 3HH, ☏ . Apr-Oct M-F 10:00-16:00. Tells the history of Grantown on Spey from 1765, including the visit of Queen Victoria. Adult £4.
- See Cairngorms National Park for a variety of mountain and backwoods sights and activities. The closest section to Grantown is Abernethy Forest.
- Dulnain Bridge is a small village 3 miles from Grantown along A95. At its east entrance are several roche moutonnées. The Ice Age in the Cairngorms was a static affair: ice sat atop the mountains and polished them into rounded bare rock, and seldom moved as glaciers to create distinctive U-shaped valleys. But in this area the ice left behind "erratics" - great boulders that look like sheep from a distance.
- At the roadside near the rocks is a display of 2 old farm machinery - ploughs and similar implements mostly from the Muckrach estate. There's a picnic table next to the display.
- 3 Nethy Bridge is a village five miles south of Grantown. It worked at forestry and sawmills, and was called Abernethy until the railway arrived in the 1860s. There was already an Abernethy on that line so the company simply renamed the place, and it became a tourist resort. The line was lost in the 1960s thanks to Beeching. The bridge over the River Nethy is by Telford, and there's a scenic dell. A mile north of the village, Castle Roy is the crumbling 12th century walls of Clan Comyn's fortress. There's B&B and self-catering cottages dotted around.
- 4 Cromdale is a tiny village further down the Spey valley on A95. It was on the same railway line as Nethy Bridge: the old station has been privately preserved. Note the old stone cheese-press built into the wall of the lane. Balmenach Distillery half a mile south of the village nowadays produces gin - the shop is open M-F 10:00-16:00 but no longer offers tours. The popular folk ballad The Haughs of Cromdale portrays the two-part Battle of Cromdale as a bold Jacobite victory, but it was an abject defeat. King James II of England / VII of Scotland had been ousted in 1688 but his forces continued to resist. In 1690 they marched into the Spey valley hoping to gather support, but instead were weakened by desertion. They got as far as Cromdale and on 30 April were met by government forces, who began to scatter and slay them, but a thick fog came down. Next day the Jacobites regrouped and skirmished again but were routed. Fleeing, they tried to seize the castle of Loch an Eilein near Aviemore, but were repulsed by the stout widow who held it. And so ended James' last stand in Scotland, though his successors the "Old Pretender" and the "Young Pretender" (Bonnie Prince Charlie) later resumed the cause.
- 1 Grantown on Spey Golf Club, Golf Course Road PH26 3HY, ☏ , fax: . Daily 08:00-18:00. 18 hole course, yellow tees 5414 yards, par 69. Round £40, day £55.
- Anagach Wood starts at the east edge of town, with several marked trails through the pine forest taking 1-3 hours. Look out for red squirrels, capercaillie and deer. There are also trails west side of town.
- 2 Craggan Outdoors, Craggan Golf Course PH26 3NT (A95 1 mile south of Grantown-on-Spey), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Outdoor activity centre with bunkhouse and café venue, various activities such as archery and canoeing.
- Whisky distilleries are mostly further east. Those within a short drive and open for tours are Tomintoul, Cragganmore, and Ballindalloch. Balmenach two miles from town produces gin and doesn't do tours.
- Skiing and snowboarding: Cairngorm Mountain Resort went bankrupt in 2019 and the access funicular is no longer running. It's not known if it will restart for winter 2020 / 21.
- You can also ski at The Lecht, see Ballater. But it's a very small, low altitude resort, really just for wobbly beginners.
- See Aviemore for the Strathspey Railway, which runs (often steam-hauled) for ten miles between Aviemore, Boat of Garten and 3 Broomhill station. You can buy tickets and board trains at Broomhill but there's more to see at the other stations. It's the remnant of the railway that ran through the valley to Forres until the Beeching cuts. The abandoned sections from Broomhill to Grantown and beyond are nowadays cycling and walking trails.
- Abernethy Highland Games are held in mid-Aug at Nethy Bridge. The next event is probably Sat 14 Aug 2021, tbc.
- Grantown Agricultural Show is held mid-Aug on Heathfield Park. The next is Th 12 Aug 2021.
- Motormania is a car rally and show held in Grantown in early Sept. The next event is Su 5 Sept 2021.
- Imray's Jewellers, 27 High Street, ☏ . 9am - 5pm. Offering some beautiful pieces, from earrings to engraved crystal whisky glasses. Friendly staff will guide you through their collection of jewellery to help you find the perfect gift or memento.
- Ewe and Me, 82-84 High Street, ☏ . 9am-5pm. A selection of wonderful gifts and trinkets. Ewe and me showcases some beautiful objects to buy and take home.
- The Kilt Shop, 85 High Street, PH26 3EW, ☏ . 9am - 5pm. Offering kilts, scarves, pins, shoes and sporrans. You can also get a kilt made to measure with your family tartan. Friendly and welcoming shop.
- Smarty Art, 39 High Street, PH26 3HB, ☏ . Decorate your own piece of ceramics at this wonderfully fun shop. Drop in for a visit!
- The Flower Box, 23 High Street, PH26 3EG, ☏ . 9am-5pm. Offering hand tied flowers, potted plants, wreaths or just pick up some ready to buy blooms from this bright and bloom filled florist.
- The Bookmark, 34 High Street, PH26 3EH, ☏ . 9am-5pm. The friendly and helpful owner at this treasure trove of a bookshop will help you find the perfect reading material. Whether you are looking for guide books, fiction, non-fiction of just something to give as a gift then this is the place for you.
- The High Street Merchants, 74-76 High Street, PH26 3EL, ☏ . Tue-Sat 10:00-17:00, Sunday 10:00-16:00, Mon closed. A lovely gallery and coffee shop offering a glimpse of some wonderful local artists' work. You can also find some lovely trinkets made in Scotland and enjoy a cup of coffee and a light bite in the afternoons.
- Grantown Dairy. 9am-5pm. This family run shop offers fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally. Pick up a punnet of Scottish raspberries to take on your long walk, you can also buy drinks, milk, jams and cheeses here too.
- Cairngorms Farmers Market, The Square. Roughly once every month from 10:00 to 16:00.
- 1 The Garth, Castle Road PH26 3HN, ☏ . Daily 12:00-14:30, 17:30-21:00. Comfy hotel serving classic Scottish food in a warm and welcoming ambiance.
- 2 The Craig Bar, Woodside Avenue PH26 3JN, ☏ . Th F 17:00-00:00, Sa-W 12:00-00:00. A fun and friendly local bar that serves delicious pies, perfect after a long day out and about. Enjoy some cracking hospitality from the owners, sit in front of the fire and have a few drams too.
- The Wee Puffin, 15 High Street PH26 3EG, ☏ . Th-M 17:00-21:00. This small family run restaurant offers simple home cooking and a vast array of Scottish beers. Enjoy fish and chips, curries, home-style soups, etc. Simple, friendly and welcoming.
- No 7 Bistro, 7 The Square PH26 3HG, ☏ . Tu-Sa 11:30-14:00, 17:30-21:00. Mixture of Scottish and Thai cuisine, try the seafood specials and the house curry.
- See Eat and Sleep, other pubs are The Claymore and Two Thirsty Men both on High St.
- More Scotch whisky than you can imagine is distilled locally so every bar has a good stock.
- 1 Grantown Caravan Park up Seafield Ave west side of town have tourer pitches and wigwams. They don't have camping pitches.
- 2 Craiglynne Hotel, Woodlands Terrace PH26 3JX, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Victorian granite pile in its own grounds with restaurant, bar and putting green. Rooms and fittings creaky and showing their age. In 2020 it's under refurbishment and not listed on parent group Crerar Hotels website. B&B double £80.
- 3 Grant Arms Hotel, 25 The Square PH26 3HF, ☏ . 50 room hotel in the centre of town. Queen Victoria slept here in 1860. Has bar and restaurant. B&B double £105.
- 4 Strathallan Guest House, Grant Road PH26 3LD, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 16:00-19:00, check-out: 10:00. Victorian villa with five individually en-suite bedrooms, with coffee machine, mini fridge and free wi-fi. No children under 16, assistance dogs only. B&B double £90.
- 5 Culdearn House, Woodlands Terrace PH26 3JU, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:30, check-out: 10:30. Small family-owned house hotel open Mar-Jan, excellent place that wins multiple awards. No children under 10, assistance dogs only. B&B double £180.
- 6 The Dulaig, Seafield Ave PH26 3JF, ☏ . Bijou B&B, only 3 bedrooms in a 1910 house. Very comfortable and stylish, excellent breakfast. Not suitable for mobility impaired, no children under 12, only assistance dogs allowed. Some noise in 2020 from adjacent building site. B&B double £200.
- 7 Tigh na Sgiath Country House Hotel, Skye of Curr Rd, Nethy Bridge PH26 3PA, ☏ . Welcoming mid-range hotel in 1902 building, owned by successive grocery tycoons. B&B double from £100.
- 8 Mountview Hotel, Grantown Rd, Nethy Bridge PH25 3EB, ☏ . The accommodation is okay for mid-range, it's the food that most impresses. The hotel is often group-booked by Heatherlea Birdwatching trips.
- 9 Muckrach Country House Hotel, Dulnain Bridge PH26 3LY (off A938), ☏ . Plush hotel in Victorian shooting lodge set in 10 acres of grounds, good restaurant. Also with self-catering. B&B double £220.
Grantown and the main roads and communities around it have a good 4G signal from all providers. 5G has not yet reached this area.
- West going upriver, the valley broadens around Aviemore, then climbs towards Kingussie and Drumochter Pass.
- East the valley descends into Moray, and a string of little coastal towns from Elgin to Fraserburgh.
- Northwest is Inverness, an agreeable Victorian town, and a few miles east is the battlesite of Culloden.