It may be odd writing about the snow road in June. But in all honesty, we think it’s worth exploring in the summer. Don’t be fooled, we’d recommend throwing in your skis or snowboard for a long weekend up there through the winter but in summer, you can take it slow and enjoy the drive through this stunning mountain pass.
Head up the M90 to Perth then take the back roads to Blairgowrie. On the way you’ll pass Ballathie where you’ll often see fisherman in the River Tay, enjoying the peace and quiet.
Your adventure really starts at Blairgowrie. Depending on how much time you have, there are a plethora of walking routes in the area – a 64 mile network of called the Cateran Trail. It’s for all abilities and gives you the chance to see some local wildlife. Blairgowrie is surrounded by farmland so take the opportunity to stock up on locally grown fruit, vegetables and eggs.
Leaving Blairgowrie, head towards Bridge of Cally and into Glenshee. Glenshee is known as Glen of the Fairies – due to its magical atmosphere. In winter, (if the snow arrives) Glenshee is full of skiers and snowboarders. The saying goes ‘you’re not a real skier unless you’ve skied at Glenshee’. Never a truer word! It’s attraction as a ski resort is due to the area having some of the highest peaks in Scotland. The Scottish ski seasons are rather unpredictable, so Glenshee has embraced year round activities including llama trekking, gin distillery tours and geocaching to name a few. With the exponential rise in gin drinkers in the last couple of years there are now many gin distilleries throughout Scotland. Persie Gin Distillery in Auchenflower is definitely worth a visit.
Take the opportunity to explore on foot. The views are simply breathtaking. Connecting Contours has created an art installation at Devils Elbow and it’s one that should not be missed.
From Glenshee follow the road into Royal Deeside. Braemer is a town full of life and a great base to explore. Make sure you’ve got your binoculars as there’s the chance to see deer, red squirrels and golden eagles. And if it’s golf you fancy then take the opportunity to play on Scotland’s highest 18-hole golf course.
Braemar also boasts 2 stunning castles steeped in history, including Balmoral. The Queen spends her summers here so keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of the longest reigning monarch. The Braemar Gathering and the Ballater Games are 2 spectacles that must be seen.
From Braemar, it’s a short drive up to Ballater, a thriving town in the heart of Royal Deeside. Depending on your level of fitness, you can take walk up Craigendarroch Hill or if you’d prefer a bracing hike then get yourself onto the Glas Mol Munros circuit. You’ll be rewarded with some stunning views.
Nearby Ballater is the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve. The reserve plays a key role in attracting wildlife to the area and there are many initiatives in place to encourage this. It’s a great area, just waiting to be explored.
Once you’ve enjoyed all Ballater has to offer, head towards Tomintoul. Tomintoul is famous for being the highest village in the Cairngorms – and for whisky. However, it is also has an International Dark Sky Park – the most northerly in the world. Be sure to visit one of the Dark Sky Discovery Sites to get the best views of the night sky. They’re best viewed during the darker months but there are a variety of events that take place throughout the year.
If you’re around Tomintoul in August – make sure you go along to the Lonach Gathering – a Highland Games event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of August.
As you leave Tomintoul and head onto the final leg of your journey to Grantown-on-Spey make time to stop to look at the Fodderletter Lum. The chimney is one of a number of a stone chimneys built by early road menders in the 1920’s and 30’s.
Grantown-on-Spey is in a beautiful setting next to the River Spey and is full of charm. It’s a great place to spend a day wandering down the High Street and enjoying a lunch in one of the many local eateries. Nearby is Nethy Bridge – also known as The Forest Village due to being surrounded by hundreds of acres of Abernethy Forest. Here, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to walking trails and outdoor activities.
The Snow Road is a particular favourite of Team Haggis. We have only touched on a few of the many activities and attractions on the route. But it’s fair to say that the ever changing scenery, abundance of wildlife and the variety of outdoor pursuits on offer, makes it unforgettable.