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The famous Aberdeen and Grampian tourist trails
Enjoy four of the very best and most famous tourist trails in Scotland.
Grampian Malt Whisky Trail
France has its Rhone wines, where the place-names along the river valley read like a wine list. Similarly in Scotland, the valley of the River Spey produces famous malt whiskies. As you travel here, signposts point to the best places to enjoy the art of distilling.
More than half Scotland's distilleries are close to the River Spey in Moray and the best of these are linked together in Scotland's unique Malt Whisky Trail. A journey here is to gain insight into the traditions and skills of this most rural of Scotland's industries, and to discover the many delights of Speyside.
Thoroughly Scottish ingredients - the meltwater from the high snows of the granite hills, peat from the moorlands and the sunshine from Moray Coast barley - all play their part in the complex character of each malt whisky which is why learning about them is fascinating and fun. With seven distilleries on the trail, plus the traditional skills of the or barrel maker at the Speyside Cooperage in Craigellachie, enjoying a distillery visit, tour and tasting is an essential ingredient of your Grampian holiday or short break experience.
Grampian Castle Trail
Wherever you are in Grampian, you are never far from a castle for this is Scotland's Castle Country and it's where you will find Scotland's unique Castle Trail.
One moment you will be in Norman Scotland, the next in Renaissance Scotland. You can let your imagination run riot in dark romantic ruins or in magnificiently furnished castles. The trail is approximately 150 miles long and can be followed in either direction. At least one hour should be allowed for each property visit. You can even stay in the noblest of northern castles - Kildrummy Castle.
Those properties belonging to the National Trust for Scotland are open during the period May-September with some opening at Easter and weekends in October. Their gardens and grounds are open all year. A few of the Historic Scotland properties are open all year.
Victorian Heritage trail
A distinctive profile of Queen Victoria on brown-coloured tourist signs points the way for the Victorian Heritage Trail, leading you to some of the many sights she enjoyed during her visits to the area.
The trail also takes in two distilleries, one at Fettercairn in the Mearns, and the other below Lochnagar among the Deeside hills. Fettercairn and Royal Lochnagar distilleries, both open to visitors, each produce a distinct and flavoursome single malt.
Look out too for the many businesses which proudly display Royal coats-of-arms. This heraldic flourish indicates that these businesses supply members of the Royal family with goods or services. The little town of Ballater has more "By Appointment" signs than any other comparable place in the world, a heritage that is further enriched by the opening in 2001 of the restored Old Royal Station Ballater.
Grampian Coastal Trail
With its clean air, clear seawater and stunning vistas, here in Aberdeen and Grampian you will find some of Europe's best coastline from the lava cliffs of St Cyrus all the way round to the notorious Culbin Sands on the Moray Firth, the north-east coastline is one long series of surprises. Tiny villages, picturesque harbours and 150-miles of unspoilt beaches line much of the coast which, together with the area's teeming wildlife (including dolphins, seals and seabirds), make the area an invigorating and uplifting holiday destination. The coast is a turning point on the map of Scotland, guarding land that has been tilled since the Stone Age. It forms a natural boundary to a land of pride and promise, the home to people whose aspirations down the centuries have created a clear identity and strong entrepreneurial spirit.