Whisky Barrels at Tomatin Distillery

Car Tour to Tomatin Distillery, Clava Cairns & Fort George. (or Cawdor Castle)

Inside Tomatin Distillery

Stills at Tomatin Distillery

This is a tour/day out that is interesting and fun at any time of year and there will be something of interest for all members of family groups. We are going to start the tour from Inverness and we will visit Tomatin distillery, the ancient Clava cairns, Cawdor Castle and finally at Fort George. Now this is a very flexible tour which can be cut short at any point if, for example, you don’t get time to do all in one day. You could save one or more of the attractions to another day. However for those on a time budget, it is all very do-able in a day because we did it all at a leisurely pace. I might mention though that Cawdor Castle is closed during the winter.

So, setting off from Inverness, head south onto the A9 for Tomatin. On route down the A9, on a clear day, you will get some lovely views of the tantalisingly close Cairngorm mountains but that’s another day! After 14 miles, turn right, leaving the A9 to go towards Tomatin village and, as soon as you do, you will see Tomatin Distillery visitor centre signs. Just follow the arrows to the visitor’s car park - it always seems relaxed around here! Book a guided tour in the site visitor centre - they run between 10am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If you arrive between tours there is a lot to keep you occupied in the centre, including a film all about whisky. The tours are well worth doing and the expert guides are adept at keeping your attention. It is fascinating to see how it is made and hear the history. One barrel of whisky in their warehouse is old and very, very valuable with an estimated value of about half a million dollars! All in all, well worth a visit. See here for details.

Leaving Tomatin, we head back north on the A9 bound for Clava Cairns ancient standing stones and chambered burial cairns, built 3 to 4,000 years ago. 10 miles from Tomatin, turn right onto the B851, signposted Croy. It is a single track road but there are plenty of passing places and it’s a very quiet road. 4 miles on, at a crossroad, turn right, opposite a sign for Culloden battlefield (that is another option for another day). After a few hundred yards turn right into the free car park and picnic site at Clava Cairns. After looking around the cairns, which are awesome and in such good condition, considering the age of them, this is a nice place to take a picnic, weather permitting !

Having spent a most enjoyable hour browsing the cairns and their history, on this occasion we have chosen to visit Fort George, instead of Cawdor Castle**, so leave the car park and return the way you came, back to the crossroad and turn right on the B851 and after a few yards turn right again onto the B9091, then proceed through Croy village to Clephanton. Turn left onto the B9006 and it is a straight 6 miles from here to Fort George.

There’s plenty of free parking spaces at Fort George and we are tempted to have a lovely walk along the shore towards the distant coastal village of Ardersier, but instead we lock up the car and proceed on foot into the fort. This is a truly impressive defensive structure the size of 5 football pitches and still home to the British Army. Built after Culloden in 1746 it took 21 years to build! You could easily spend a whole day here exploring the ramparts, the museum, historic barracks and the immaculately manicured grounds. Fort George Postcode for Sat Nav is IV2 7TD See here for details

At the end of the day and it’s time to head back to Inverness, it is a mere 11 miles drive through Ardersier village and turn right onto the A96.

**
(If you are going to Cawdor Castle from the Clava Cairns, leave the car park and return the way you came, back to the crossroad and turn right on the B851 and after a few yards turn right again onto the B9091, then proceed through Croy village and on to Clephanton where you turn right onto the B9090 to Cawdor Castle (open May to September). Just to see the gardens at Cawdor is a real treat. See here for details.

NOTE
Within the pages of VisitInvernessLochNess.com you will find Inverness based guides who provide exclusive tours along many of these routes.
See our professional tour guide members if you prefer guided tours.
The advantage of such tours is that you discover a huge amount that is missed in guide books. Why these trees in those locations; why was Charles Edward Stuart in that glen; how was that castle destroyed; visit unsigned attractions like the Moriston footprints etc. Quality guides turn touring into more of a Time Team or National Geographic adventure.

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Visitor centre at Tomatin Distillery

Tomatin Distillery visitor centre

Clava Cairns chambered cairn

One of the chambered burial mounds at Clava Cairns

The ramparts at Fort George

Ramparts at Fort George