Travel Tips & Adventures

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International Travel Planning … on your own … without a net

Part 7

Scotland: Fall 2009

DAY 8 (cont’d)

We are settling in Aviemore for several nights as a base to explore the Highlands. Okay, you had to ask! Where is Aviemore, and why would anyone want to stay there?

Actually, there are three reasons:1. It’s a great central location in the Highlands to fan out to other areas, north and east.

2. If you like outdoor sports it’s the place to go as it lies within Cairngorms National Park.

3. AND MOST IMPORTANT: It’s just down the road from my ancestor’s museum in Newtonmore.

Although not conceived as an indoor/outdoor sports mecca, the town of Aviemore became one of the first ski resorts in Scotland in 1960 with the opening of a chairlift and what became known as the Aviemore Centre. The aforementioned Centre was home to skating, hockey, a swimming pool, a go-kart track, etc.

Problems arose quickly, though, as any guaranteed snowfall on a yearly basis was less than adequate and the Centre fell into disrepair. Several attempts have been, and are being made, to bring the Centre back as a major sports complex due to the 2012 Olympics in London, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow.

The major hotel center, Macdonald Aviemore Highland Resort (formerly the Hilton), is owned by MacDonald Hotel & Resorts. The complex actually consists of 4 hotels and 18 lodges. The Macdonald Highland Hotel (151 rooms) is a four star rated property while the Four Seasons, Academy Hotel and the Aviemore Inn are rated 3 stars. The 18 lodges sleep up to 6 persons.

Macdonald Hotels, Ltd. Is based in Bathgate, Scotland, with hotels and resorts in both Scotland, England, and Spain. So, it is truly a hometown company.

The reincarnation of Hilton is the Hilton Coylumbridge located within a 65-acre wooded estate for those who need the comfort of an American-based company.
Several other independently run hotel properties are located in Aviemore including the High Range Lodge, the Cairngorm Hotel, and the Rowan Tree Hotel.



Thought it might be nice to see the top of Scotland, so we are going to head up north on A9 to the end of the world!!!! Actually, just to Thurso, Dunnet Head, and John O’Groats.

From: Aviemore
To: Thurso
Distance: 138.6 miles
Time: 3 hr 5 min

Two important notes and one true fact need to be included here. There’s not much to see in Thurso, as per the locals, but it’s just two miles south of Scrabster, the ferry port that will get you to the Orkney Islands. So, most visitors just drive through Thurso.

And, the one true fact about the northern end of Scotland … John O’Groats IS NOT the end of the world! Although it seems to get the majority of press about its location, the actual end of Scotland is on the way there from Thurso on the A836 to Dunnet. A northerly turn at the village will bring you to a single track road that leads to Dunnet Head Lighthouse … THE REAL NORTHERNMOST POINT IN SCOTLAND!

With a lighthouse perching on 300 foot cliffs the view (on a clear day) is supposedly incredible!

Word of warning: B855 is a single track road to get to Dunnet Head, so it’s not the Autobahn.

After leaving Dunnet, it’s a short 11 miles and we wave hearty hi dee ho to John O’Groats as we motor past it and head down south to Wick.

We’ll be back tomorrow with the continuation of the trip down the east coast ….

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