This is a tour/day out that is interesting and fun at any time of year. There will be something of interest for all members of family groups – especially older non-drivers who would like a taste of Tomatin whisky!
We are going to start the tour from Inverness. We will visit Tomatin Distillery, the ancient Clava Cairns, Cawdor Castle and finally Fort George. This is a very flexible Scottish car tour, which can be cut short at any point. If 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. We have tested this for you at a leisurely pace. Please note that Cawdor Castle is closed during the winter (early October to the end of April).
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 for 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 – the visitor centre is open all year round. 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.
Leaving Tomatin, we head back north on the A9 bound for Clava Cairns ancient standing stones and chambered burial cairns, built 3-4,000 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! Just across the road from the Clava Cairns is the impressive Culloden Viaduct (also known as the Nairn or Clava Viaduct).
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.
**(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.)
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.
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.
And there you have it! From tasting Tomatin whisky to exploring Fort George, that’s a lot to pack in! We hope you enjoy your trip, and let us know of anywhere we should add to our guide!Explore The Highlands Further
Find accommodation, tours, attractions, events and restaurants to help you plan your trip