The small, pretty town of Aberlour lies on the banks of the River Spey, and is surrounded by wonderful open countryside, with the Cairngorm Mountains on one side and the Moray Firth coast on the other. It is a the heart of the Whisky Trail and visitors will be stunned to realise that there are 50 whisky distilleries within a 15 mile radius of the town. Many of these distilleries are well worth a visit as they have excellent visitor centres with plenty of tasting on offer. The area is a magnet for fishermen with the River Spey so close by, whilst walkers will certainly appreciate the fabulous walks and wildlife they will encounter en route through the Speyside Way, one of the four official Long Distance Routes in Scotland. Aberlour is a great base for exploring this region of Scotland.
Shops and facilities in the village include food shops (Co-Op, Spey Larder), cafés, take-aways and restaurants ( Fish and Chip Shop, Café 'The Byre', Walker’s Shortbread Shop, The Mash Tun, The Aberlour Hotel, The Dowans Hotel), Butcher, Fishing Tackle (also sells fishing day and week licenses for the Spey), Saddler and Ironmonger (Gammack’s), News Agents with Post Office, Gift Shops (Ewe and Me, A Gift from Scotland, Three Bags Wool, Still Life), Public Library, Filling Station, Public Swimming Pool and Rock Cimbing Wall (at High School), Hospital, Pharmacy, Dentist, The River Spey, The Speyside Way, Alice Litter Park with putting green and quality play park - all 2 mins walk.
The River Spey is one of Scotland’s most prolific salmon and sea trout fisheries, attracting fishermen from all over the world. Aberlour Bolthole & Abelrour Retreat are situated adjacent to the middle section of the Spey giving easy access to this part of the river. Aberlour Angleing Club offers 1.5 miles of single bank fishing on the prime middle reaches of the River Spey and publish their catches on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/aberlourangling/. Day and week tickets are availabe at very competetive rates. For more general information ckeck the http://www.fishpal.com website.
Although local estates control most beats, day and weekly permits to fish on parts of the Spey, its tributaries (e.g. River Avon, River Livet) and other nearby rivers are available from local angling clubs and some estates. The Avon is the main tributary of the world renowned River Spey. Excellent salmon fishing can be enjoyed from around late May until the end of the season. The Livet is itself the main tributary of the River Avon. Mainly of interest for its Brown Trout it is also one of the most productive spawning tributaries of the Spey and salmon can also be expected this far up the river in late season. Alternatively, wild and released trout fishing is available on many local lochs and lakes. The nearby Glen of Rothes Fishery provides excellent stillwater bank fishing, and on the Glenlivet Estate, a short distance away, wild brown trout fishing can be enjoyed. On most trout lakes, equipment is available.
Aberlour Cottage is at the heart of Malt Whisky country and on the famous Malt Whisky Trail. The area has many of the world’s best known distilleries including Aberlour, Benromach, Cardow, Dallas Dhu, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, Glenlivet, Glen Moray, Strathisla and Glenfarclas where you can visit each distillery, do a spot of tasting and learn how the barley is turned into whisky. Some modern distilleries are very hi-tech and resemble a chemical factory whereas other smaller establishments still use the traditional methods to produce an artisan product that will vary from year to year. We advise to book your tour in advance to avoid disappointment.
Many excellent nearby courses include Ballindalloch (a few minutes drive away), Rothes, Dufftown, Grantown-on-Spey, Nethy Bridge and the championship courses of Nairn and Royal Dornoch. All of these offer day and weekly membership with prices per round costing from £10 to £100. The courses also host many competitions attracting both amateur and professional players such as Nairn Golf Club which staged the 2012 Curtis Cup match on their Championship course in June 2012.
Aberlour Cottage is situated close to the renowned Cairngorms National Park where skiing and other snowsports can be enjoyed. Two main venues are the Cairngorm Ski Centre and The Lecht where, in total, there are over 50km of ski runs and a snow board fun park, suitable for all levels from beginner to expert. Cross Country, telemark, ski touring and ski mountaineering are also available from specialist operators. Snowsports can take place any time between December and April depending on weather conditions and it is sometimes possible to ski before December and into May.
There are numerous scenic forest and country walks straight from Aberlour Bolthole & Retreat. You can walk across the fields, explore the many forest tracks adjacent to the Cottages, or access the Speyside Way which is just a few minutes away. This world famous trail mainly follows the valley of the River Spey and runs from Buckie on the shore of the Moray Firth, south westwards to Aviemore on the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains, a distance of approximately 65-miles. Aberlour Bolthole & Retreat are ideal as a base to complete all sections of the walk, being situated 30-35-miles from each end.
For hillwalkers, there are 49 Munros plus numerous Corbetts and Grahams (smaller hills) to be conquered within the Cairngorm range and local area. The closest is Ben Rinnes, about 2-miles away, with a total ascent of 548 metres. As a guide, 2.5 hours should be allowed to complete the 4.66 mile route and, on a clear day, there are fantastic views from the summit.
The area has miles of tracks to suit mountain bikers of all abilities. In addition to the little-used tracks within woodland adjacent to Aberlour, there are the dedicated Moray Monster Mountain Bike Trails http://www.glenlivetestate.co.uk giving 19-miles of singletrack routes to suit all abilities. The Moray Monster Trails http:/www.scotlandmountainbike.co.uk/page6.html are linked to each other and stretch from Fochabers near the coast to Craigellachie which is only 2 miles from Aberlour. For beginners, there is a green-graded trail at Quarrelwood, near Elgin some 20 miles from Aberlour.
Canoeing the River Spey from where it becomes navigable, through the Cairngorms National Park all the way to the sea, is a classic Highland adventure known as 'The Spey Descent'.
This trip is suitable for those who have never canoed before as well as canoeists with years of experience. The stretch of the River Spey from Ballindalloch to Aberlour is the most famous section for White Water, with rapids up to grade 2, making it an ideal day trip for experienced canoeists. Equipment including canoes can be hired with instructors for those who require it.
Recreational water skiing and a broad range of associated activities can be found at Loch of Aboyne run by the Aberdeen Water Ski and Wakeboard club who welcome all visitors regardless of age or experience. Besides water skiing, sailing and windsurfing are both popular sports in the area. The Moray coastal town of Lossiemouth is one of Scotland’s hidden windsurfing gems, and the Portsoy Boat Festival held annually in July is a hugely popular event that attracts sailing and fishing boats alike.
Aberlour Bolthole & Retreat provide an excellent base from which to explore Morayshire, with castles, mountains, beaches and cities all easily accessible.
Often referred to as Castle Country, the historic Northeast of Scotland is home to around a thousand castles or castle ruins, providing a wealth of history to explore. The nearest is Ballindalloch Castle, just a few minutes drive away, the family home of the Macpherson-Grants who have resided there since 1546. There is also the Aberdeenshire Castle Trail which covers thirteen unique castles from Castle Fraser to Tolquhon Castle.
The Cairngorms National Park is the largest in Britain with thousands of acres of beautiful and unspoilt countryside. It is just a short drive from Aberlour Cottage and well worth a visit to enjoy the fabulous scenery, from wild moorlands and soaring mountain peaks to spectacular rivers and tranquil lochs.
The Moray Firth has some of the most beautiful and unspoilt stretches of coast with many beaches gaining Seaside Awards. It is possible to watch Bottlenose Dolphins from the shore at many locations all around the Moray Firth and there are many pretty fishing villages to visit.
If you enjoy shopping and/or dining out, Aberlour has several great cafes and pubs and is about 1-hour’s drive from the historic cities of Inverness and Aberdeen. Locally, the market towns of Dufftown, Huntly, Elgin and Grantown on Spey all have a variety of shops, pubs, hotels and cafes. Walkers Shortbread shop in Aberlour, Johnston of Elgin’s Cashmere Centre, Brodies Country Fare at Nairn and Baxters Highland village at Fochabers are all favourite places to visit.
Scotland has a long tradition and history of Highland Games where Clans would compete against each other in sporting events. Early Celts viewed such events as war games where their strongest and bravest soldiers would win the games.
Some say that Highland Games originated as a clan chieftain's way of choosing the best bodyguards and the fittest fighters. Not all the chief's requirements were warlike - musicians and dancers were important for the prestige of his household. Choosing staff and supporters was done by holding competitions - good runners for couriers, strong men for defence and a range of entertainers to amuse them during the winter evenings.
Many events at today's Highland Games still use items which would have been part of everyday life in the Highlands of old eg. round stones from river beds probably provided the original shot-putts while a Scots pine trunk shorn of its branches is still the caber as tossed today.
Many of these traditions can still be seen in Highland Games today however they are now much more sociable and fun events celebrated worldwide.
The Aberlour Highland Games are generally on the first Saturday of August.