North East 250

Whisky, Heritage, Culture & Adventure

Experience a journey of stunning scenic contrasts and explore the rich heritage and culture of the heart of Scotland
All in one amazing route.
The North East 250 explores everything for which Scotland is famous in a unique Scottish road trip taking you through the whisky distilleries of Speyside, the spectacular mountain passes of the Cairngorms National Park, the famous castles of Royal Deeside, the Granite City of Aberdeen, the rugged North Sea coastline to the east, and the picturesque seaside villages of the Moray Firth Coast.

If you love the outdoors and looking for your next adventure, the North East 250 is the route for you. Hit the slopes in Glenshee, test your head for heights at Go Ape Crathes Castle, stroll along award-winning beaches, discover the natural wonders of the Cairngorms National Park, experience the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world, or take to the water and enjoy sea kayaking, paddle boarding and much more.

Travel back through centuries of fascinating history. Visit majestic castles and mansions with intriguing pasts, mighty strongholds and ruins with spectacular views. Learn about ancient arts and crafts, and visit the first lighthouse on mainland Scotland. From Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, to the finest regiment in the world, the North East 250 is rich in heritage waiting to be explored.

Whether you would like to learn about the water of life at the whisky distilleries of Speyside, taste beer fresh from the tanks at BrewDog, indulge in a warming bowl of traditional Cullen Skink, or satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade Portsoy ice-cream, the North East 250 has something for every appetite.


BALLINDALLOCH – Ballindalloch Castle AB37 9AX Explore and enjoy five hundred years of Highland history, acres of formal gardens, woodlands and riverside walks, the children’s playground, picnic area, tearoom and gift shop. Family home of the Macpherson-Grant’s since 1546, Ballindalloch Castle is one of the finest surviving examples of a Scottish Baronial Castle and tourists flock from around the globe to visit this ‘Pearl of the North’. Also try: Packhorse Bridge in Glenlivet, Drumin Castle, Glenlivet Scalan Seminary, Tomintoul Discovery Centre

KNOCKANDO – Knockando Woolmill AB38 7RP Nestled in the heart of Speyside, Knockando Woolmill has ensured the craft of carding, spinning and weaving with local wool has been passed down through generations since 1784. Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Guided tours bookable online. Also try: Johnstons of Elgin Mill Tour (Open year round)

ABERLOUR – Walkers Shortbread AB38 9PD With shops in Elgin, Aberlour and Aviemore, Walkers Shortbread are renowned across the world as a true Scottish classic, baking an extensive range of pure butter shortbread, cakes, tarts, biscuits, oatcakes, meringues and more, using original recipes. Also try: The Spey Larder in Aberlour, Aberlour Distillery

ABERLOUR – The Dowans Hotel AB38 9LS Two restaurants, ‘57’ offers everyday dining of the highest quality, ‘Spé’ offers a more formal experience. Sourcing all fresh ingredients locally, with seasonal menus that mix traditional Scottish fare with cuisines from around the world. The Still bar is stocked with over 500 single malt whiskies. Please book to avoid disappointment. Also try: The Aberlour Hotel

CRAIGELLACHIE – Spetside Cooperage AB38 9RS Discover the ancient art of Cooperage and watch the highly skilled coopers at work. Still using many traditional methods, Speyside coopers are busy shaping, shaving and charring casks for what is an integral part of the whisky industry. To see the coopers in action book your cooperage tour online or by phone. Open Mon-Fri. Also try: Thomas Telford Bridge in Craigellachie

BALVENIE – Balvenie Castle AB55 4GH A wide ditch encircles this striking, curtain-walled castle. Built in the 1200s as the seat of the powerful earls of Buchan, the heavily fortified stronghold became an elegant lodging in the 1500s. Also try: Keith and Dufftown Railway, Rothes Castle, Elgin Cathedral

MULBEN – House of Mulben AB55 6YH From action packed quad biking to the more relaxed activities of archery and fishing. To the challenging off road driving course and fun sport of clay pigeon shooting, House of Mulben are waiting to welcome you to a great day out in the freedom and beauty of the countryside in Speyside Scotland. Book in advance. Also try: Outfit Moray, Lossiemouth

SPEY BAY – WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre IV32 7PJ As well as spotting dolphins at the mouth of the river Spey, you can tour the Tugnet Icehouse. See and touch the fantastic collection of huge whale bones from the local area. Discover the history of salmon fishing and the importance of the UK’s largest surviving icehouse. Also try: The Garmouth Viaduct, Moray Motor Museum in Elgin

FOCHABERS – Gordon Castle Café IV32 7PQ Seasonal Scottish dishes are prepared with care and a wee bit of flair using the finest local ingredients. Operating a Plant, Pick, Plate ethos to make the most of the amazing eight-acre walled garden which you can enjoy after eating. Don’t forget to try the Gordon Castle Gin! Also try: Christies of Fochabers Teapot Restaurant, Station Hotel Speyside (Rothes)

FOCHABERS – Moray Monster Trails IV32 7PG Whether you’re new to off-road mountain biking or an expert rider looking for big thrills, there’s a Monster Trail that’s just right for you. Head to Winding Walks for extreme freeriding and the red-grade Fochabers Ring, or start at Ordiequish for slightly easier blue routes – and the mighty black Gully Monster. Also try: WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre, Spey Bay

CULLEN – Coffee at the Kings At Cullen Beach you will find a vintage Airstream caravan serving the best premium barists coffee and luxury hot chocolate, as well as tasty tray bakes and local Simpsons ice cream. Also try: The Hooga Cafe in Cullen, Rockpool Cafe in Cullen

CULLEN – The Cullen Bay Hotel AB56 4XA Famous for its delicious Cullen Skink soup, fresh local seafood and dining whilst gazing at the superb sea views. The Cullen Bay Hotel’s restaurant provides a relaxed setting, a seasonal menu and food cooked to order by their team of skilled chefs. Call or book via email. Also try: The Seaforth Arms in Cullen, The Royal Oak in Cullen

CULLEN – Cullen Sea School AB56 4AG Coastal rowing, sea kayaling, paddle boarding and much more. Enjoy an abundance of watersport activities, shore-based classes and even try your hand at boat-building. The water sports season runs from May to October, while you can enjoy all our shore-based classes all year round. Call ahead to book. Also try: Bow Fiddle Rock in Portknockie, Macduff Marine Aquarium

FINDLATER – Findlater Castle AB45 2UD The ruins of Findlater Castle stand on a rocky promontory projecting out into the sea some two miles east of Cullen and a mile west of Sandend. Brown tourist signs direct you from the A98 to a parking area at a farm, Barnyards of Findlater, and from here it is a half mile walk along a good grassy path to the interpretive board on the cliffs behind the castle. Also try: The Buckie Heritage Centre, Portsoy Salmon Bothy Museum

SANDEND – Glenglassaugh Distillery AB45 2SQ Two miles west of Portsoy stands the Glenglassaugh Distillery. Producing whisky using the highest quality of Scottish barley and using traditional distilling methods you can take a tour of the distillery to learn about the whisky making process and sample a Glenglassaugh dram at the end of your tour.

PORTSOY – Portsoy Ice Cream AB45 2QT A family run business located in the picturesque harbour village of Portsoy in Aberdeenshire on the Moray Firth Coast. Since 2003, Alex and his team have strived to create an exciting range of top quality homemade artisan ice creams and sorbets. For the ultimate ice cream experience head to Portsoy Ice Cream where award winning ice cream awaits!

BANFF – Duff House AB45 3SX Unpick the tale of two Williams – William Duff, owner of Duff House, and William Adam, its architect. The two fell out over money during the creation of this splendid early Georgian mansion. Admire the architecture, get up close to wonderful artworks and wander through the landscaped grounds. Also try: Banff Castle

BANFF – The Banff Springs Hotel AB45 2JE The hotel has a lounge bar where guests can relax with a drink, a restaurant which serves only the finest local cuisine and sensational views of the Moray Firth coast. Call to book or via email. Also try: The Knowes Hotel in Macduff

FRASERBURGH – Fraserburgh Beach AB43 9TB Fraserburgh’s award winning beach stretches for miles backed by golden sand dunes and located where the Moray Firth meets the North Sea. The waters off Fraserburgh’s beach are perfect for watersports with surfing and paddle boarding a must. From the beach you can see the bustling Fraserburgh Harbour and the Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse on the skyline. Also try: RSPB Loch of Strathbeg, Rattray Head Lighthouse

FRASERBURGH – Museum of Scottish Lighthouses AB43 9DU The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses is based in the bustling fishing port of Fraserburgh on the North East corner of Aberdeenshire. Kinnaird Head Lighthouse – the very first lighthouse on mainland Scotland (1787) and Kinnaird Head Castle which contains the lighthouse and our purpose-built museum alongside. Also try: Fraserburgh Heritage Centre

PETERHEAD – Peterhead Prison Museum AB42 2YY The museum highlights the work of the brave personnel that served here between 1888- 2013. You will see what “real” prison life was like, whilst listening to the officers speak of their experiences as part of the audio tour. Your sense of smell will be stimulated as you enter the laundry, shower block and hospital areas. Alcatraz of the North East 250 – a museum not to be missed. Also try: Arbuthnot Museum, Peterhead.

MINTLAW – Saplinbrae Hotel AB42 4LP Food lovingly created, specially selected and locally sourced, enjoy all-day dining at the Saplinbrae Hotel where locals and visitors alike are warmly welcomed to sample their beautiful and food in the glorious Buchan countryside. Also try: The Café at Aden, The Rora Dairy, The Captains Table in Fraserburgh

CRUDEN BAY – Bullers of Buchan AB42 0NS The Bullers of Buchan is a collapsed sea cave and can be found off the A975, just north of Cruden Bay and roughly 6 miles south of Peterhead. Follow a narrow clifftop coastal path (care required) to the Bullers of Buchan and look upon the 30m deep chasm where you’ll see the waves rush through the natural archway. Also try: Collieston Bay, Slains Castle, Boddam Lighthouse

CRUDEN BAY – Slains Castle AB42 0NE Slains Castle, also known as New Slains Castle is a ruined castle which overlooks the North Sea from its cliff-top site, one kilometre east of Cruden Bay. Bram Stoker, who stayed at the castle, used it as inspiration for his story of Dracula. Although creepy it is photogenic the scenery is amazing and the views out to sea are stunning.

ELLON – Brewdog Dogtap AB41 8BX What better way to enjoy BrewDog beer than in the place it was created; where you can smell the hops emanating from your glass and the brewery at the same time? Book your brewery tour online.

BALMEDIE – Balmedie Country Park AB23 8XG This country park has a long stretch of beautiful sandy beach behind which are sand dunes, great and small, to explore. A total of 1700 metres of boardwalk assist visitor access through the dunes. The park is within part of a dune system that stretches 14 miles from Aberdeen, to just north of the mouth of the River Ythan at Newburgh. The beach is sandy and over the years has won a number of awards, including a seaside award in 2006 and 2007. Also try: RSPB Dolphin Watch Aberdeen, Newburgh Beach

ROYAL DEESIDE ABERDEEN – Gordon Highlanders Museum AB15 7XH Situated in the fashionable west end of Aberdeen, The Gordon Highlanders Museum offers a warm, friendly welcome to all our visitors and is a great day out for the family. The only VisitScotland 5 Star attraction in Aberdeen, the museum tells the extraordinary 200 year story of ‘The Finest Regiment in the World’! Also try: Aberdeen Maritime Museum

BANCHORY – Aberdeenshire Highland Beef AB31 5QB An authentic and unique farm to fork experience. Meet Grace and her herd of Highland cattle, see how they are raised, learn about her farming methods and taste for yourself what she considers to be the most delicious, premium quality beef available. Farm tours available every Sunday at 2pm – please book online or give Grace a call. Also try: Spider on a Bicycle in Aboyne for a great coffee stop

BANCHORY – Banchory Lodge Hotel AB31 5HS Relaxed and inviting in a gorgeous setting with stunning views to the River Dee and the countryside beyond. Banchory Lodge champions local suppliers showcasing local and seasonal produce. Enjoy your lunch, brunch, afternoon tea or dinner in the bar, restaurant or on their riverside terrace. Online booking available.

BANCHORY – Crathes Castle AB31 5QJ Painted ceilings and family portraits adorn this turreted castle, wander through the historic walled garden and spot a rich variety of wildlife along our six waymarked trails. Standing against a backdrop of rolling hills and set within its own glorious gardens, Crathes Castle is every inch the classic Scottish tower house – and a fantastic day out for all the family. Also try: Drum Castle

ALFORD – Grampian Transport Museum AB33 8AE Located in the historic village of Alford, just 45 minutes from Aberdeen, the Grampian Transport Museum boasts an impressive range of transport exhibits, from travelling chariots of the 1800’s, to some of the fastest cars ever made. Throughout the year the museum has an extensive outdoor events/ride on programme. Also try: Craigievar Castle, Alford

ABOYNE – Glen Tanar AB34 5EU Experience the untouched open wilderness of Glen Tanar where you can walk, hike, mountain bike, geocache, horse ride, fish or even take a guided tour in on one of their landrover estate safaris. There are also a variety of country sports available. With spectacular scenery it is a perfect location for those interested in the great outdoors. Also try: Muir of Dinnet

BALLATER – The Carriage AB35 5RB The newly restored Old Royal Station in Ballater is home to The Carriage Café, Tearoom and Bistro where you can enjoy a taste of Scottish heritage in beautiful surroundings. Celebrating immaculately executed British classics and seasonal cuisine; The Carriage’s inviting menus showcase locally sourced ingredients and can be enjoyed throughout the day. Book online to avoid disappointment. Also try: The Pavilion Café at The Highland Games Centre in Braemar or The Rothesay Rooms in Ballater.

BALMORAL – Balmoral Castle AB35 5TB Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852. Set aside at least one and a half hours for your visit to Balmoral. This will give you time to visit the grounds, gardens, exhibitions, gift shop and the coffee shop. Winter tours are available. The guided tour lasts approximately one hour and afterwards you are free to wander the grounds and gardens. Also try: Corgarff Castle

BRAEMAR – The Fife Arms AB35 5YN The Fife Arms showcases the finest seasonal produce for which Scotland is world-famous. From fresh seafood and game to local whiskies and spirits, many of the ingredients used in the kitchens and bars is sourced from local suppliers, gamekeepers and farmers. The Flying Stag is the hotel’s bar. Frequented by residents and visitors alike, the public bar offers classic Scottish dishes, real ales, live entertainment and a selection of over 180 whiskies.

BRAEMAR – Braemar Castle AB35 5XR Braemar Castle is a compact tower house with a fascinating history dating back almost 400 years and is the only castle in Scotland to be run by the community. Local volunteers, with extensive knowledge of the area, welcome visitors and share stories as they guide them round the castle. Also try: The Highland Games Centre, Braemar

BRAEMAR – Mar Lodge Estate AB35 5YJ Discover the natural wonders of this 29,000ha estate, at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Calling all Munro-baggers! 15 mountains over 3,000ft (914m) are found here, including Scotland’s second highest mountain. Follow in Queen Victoria’s footsteps and picnic at the Linn of Dee and spot some iconic Scottish wildlife, including red deer, ptarmigan, pine martens, golden eagles and mountain hares. Also try: Lochnagar, Loch Callater, Loch Muick

BRAEMAR – Braemar Highland Experience Join Braemar Highland Experience to discover an area of outstanding natural beauty with spectacular mountains, wild open spaces and stunning scenery. Based in Braemar in the Cairngorms National Park, they offer three different routes to access this landscape – bespoke tours, guided walking and offroad safaris. Braemar Highland Experience shows you the landscape through a local’s eye from the comfort of a luxurious Land Rover discovery vehicle or you can venture off the beaten track and into the mountains and glens on foot with a walking guide. Also try: Yellow Welly Tours

GLENSHEE – Cairnwell Chairlift / Ski Centre AB35 5XU In winter Glenshee or ‘Glen of the Fairies’, offers one of the most magical skiing experiences in Scotland with 3,504 ft of mountain adventure for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. In summer take the Cairnwell Chairlift to the summit of the Cairnwell for the most spectacular views. The Cairnwell Chairlift can also transport mountain bikes so you can enjoy a ride across the mountain tops. Fuel up at their buzzing alpine cafe Tea@The Shee.

TOMINTOUL AND GLENLIVET – Dark Sky Park Home to the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world, the Glenlivet and Tomintoul area is one of the best places in the Cairngorms National Park to discover the wonders of the night sky. Not only does this remote area have stunning dark skies but it also has easy access allowing everyone to enjoy a night sky brimming with stars. With designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites, find yourself at one of the best stargazing sites in the northern hemisphere. Also try: Glenlivet Moutain Bike Trails, Tomintoul Adventure Play Park

GRANTOWN ON SPEY – Craggan Outdoors PH26 3NT Slightly off route, award-winning Craggan Outdoors is well worth a short detour. Delivering the very best in outdoor activity-focused experiences for groups of all types, and to individuals of all ages and abilities. Find yourself gorge walking, kayaking, fishing, golfing, canoeing …even zip-wiring in the Cairngorms National Park. Also try: The Lecht 2090

GLENLIVET – Glenlivet Hilltrek AB37 9DJ Award-winning Argocat tours with Glenlivet Hilltrek is something different, providing a thoroughly enjoyable Highland hilltop experience. Half and full day guided treks, amongst the heather hilltops of the beautiful Glenlivet Estate from the comfort and safety of your Argocat all terrain vehicle. Also try: Glenlivet Wildlife Tours

GLENLIVET – The Glenlivet Distillery AB37 9DB The Glenlivet Distillery sits in a wild and remote glen, its history laced with drama and intrigue. See where it all started and experience the rare conditions of their remote location. Take a distillery tour or try the new outdoor tented whisky tasting experience. Also try: Cardhu and Cragganmore Distillery tours