Grantown-on-Spey is a town in the Spey Valley in the central Scottish Highlands, 20 miles southeast of Inverness. To the west is the "strath" or broad valley of the River Spey, which here narrows to descend east through the Cairngorms towards the coast in Moray. Grantown was a planned settlement built on a grid pattern from 1765, and has long been a Highland holiday resort. Brief visitors include Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II, while future Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi lived here with her young family for most of 1975. Its Gaelic name is Baile nan Granndach; in 2020 the population was 2510.

Dulnain Bridge, Nethy Bridge and Cromdale are nearby small villages also described on this page.

Get in edit

 
Map of Grantown-on-Spey

The nearest mainline railway stations are Aviemore and Carrbridge, which have trains every hour or two from Edinburgh and Glasgow via Perth, heading for Inverness. See below for Broomhill, north terminus of the steam-hauled Strathspey Railway.

Stagecoach Highlands Bus X37 runs from Inverness to Tomatin, Carrbridge, Dulnain Bridge, Grantown, Nethy Bridge and Boat of Garten; five buses M-F and three on Saturday.

Bus 37 runs from Aviemore via Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge to Grantown, every two hours M-Sa with four on Sunday.

Driving from the south follow A9 to Aviemore then A95 into town.

Get around edit

You need a car unless you enjoy cycling in the rain.

Johnny's Taxis (+44 1479 851375) based in Dulnain Bridge are friendly and reliable.

See edit

  • The Square is the pleasant broad boulevard at the centre of Grantown, narrowing into High St west.
  • 1 Grantown Museum, Burnfield Avenue PH26 3HH, +44 1479 872478. Apr-Oct: M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su 11AM-5PM. Tells the history of Grantown-on-Spey from 1765, including the visit of Queen Victoria. Adult £4, child free.
  • Cairngorms National Park closest section to Grantown is Abernethy Forest, accessed above Nethy Bridge. It's a remnant of the original Caledonian Forest and much is a nature reserve.
  • Dulnain Bridge is a small village 3 miles from Grantown along A95. At its east entrance are several roche moutonnées. The Ice Age in the Cairngorms was a static affair: ice sat atop the mountains and polished them into rounded bare rock, and seldom moved as glaciers to create distinctive U-shaped valleys. But in this area the ice left behind "erratics" - great boulders that look like sheep from a distance.
  • 2 Old farm machinery is displayed at the roadside near the rocks - ploughs and similar implements mostly from the Muckrach estate. There's a picnic table next to the display.
  • 3 Nethy Bridge is a village five miles south of Grantown. It worked at forestry and sawmills, and was called Abernethy until the railway arrived in the 1860s. There was already an Abernethy on that line so the company simply renamed the village, and it became a tourist resort. The line closed in 1968 thanks to Beeching. The bridge over the River Nethy is by Telford, and there's a scenic dell.
 
End of the line at Broomhill
  • 4 Broomhill station is the north terminus of the Strathspey Railway, a heritage line. The original line ran through the valley from Aviemore to Forres until the Beeching cuts of 1965, when the station was demolished. It was rebuilt in 2002 in period style, serving as "Glenbogle" in the TV drama Monarch of the Glen to 2005. Most visitors start their ride at Aviemore, and the train makes an extended stop at Boat of Garten for the main collection of locomotives and rolling stock, but you can start your trip at Broomhill. Further restoration of the line towards Grantown is blocked by the A95. As if in denial, the train chuffs on for a short distance beyond Broomhill then comes to a dead-end in the fields; the locomotive changes ends via the passing loop and the train returns south.
  • 5 Castle Roy a mile north of Nethy Bridge is the stump of Clan Comyn's 12th century fortress. It's on a drumlin, a mound of glacial rubble, so it has a good view and is a popular picnic spot where Highland cattle roam. Donations welcome.
  • 6 Cromdale is a tiny village further down the Spey valley on A95. It was on the same railway line as Nethy Bridge: the old station has been privately preserved. Note the old stone cheese-press built into the wall of the lane. The ballad Haughs of Cromdale portrays the two-part battle here as a bold Jacobite victory, but it was an abject defeat. King James II of England / VII of Scotland had been ousted in 1688 but his forces continued to resist. In 1690 they marched into the Spey valley hoping to gather support, but instead were weakened by desertion. They got as far as Cromdale and on 30 April were met by government forces, who began to scatter and slay them, but a thick fog came down. Next day the Jacobites regrouped and skirmished again but were routed. Fleeing, they tried to seize the castle of Loch an Eilein near Aviemore, but were repulsed by the stout widow who held it. And so ended James' last stand in Scotland, though his son the "Old Pretender" and grandson the "Young Pretender" (Bonnie Prince Charlie) resumed the cause, until it was crushed at Culloden in 1745.

Do edit

  • 1 Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club, Golf Course Road PH26 3HY, +44 1479 872079. 18-hole course, white tees 5710 yards, par 70. Round £49, day £65.
  • Abernethy GC near Nethy Bridge is nine holes.
  • Anagach Woods start at the east edge of town, with several marked trails through the pine forest taking 1-3 hours. Look out for red squirrels, capercaillie and deer. There are also trails west side of town.
  • 2 Cairngorms Activities (formerly Craggan Outdoors), Craggan Golf Course PH26 3NT (A95 one mile south of Grantown), +44 1479 873283. Daily 9AM-5PM. Outdoor activity centre with bunkhouse and café, various activities such as gorge-walking, archery and canoeing.
  • Skiing and snowboarding: see Aviemore for Cairngorm Mountain Resort, where the funicular railway re-opened in 2023.
You can also ski at The Lecht, see Ballater. But it's a very small, low altitude resort, really just for wobbly beginners.
  • Speyside Way is a hiking and cycling trail alongside the heritage railway from Aviemore to Broomhill, then along the old trackbed northeast via Nethy Bridge to Grantown. From here it goes northeast along the valley to Ballindalloch, Craigellachie, Fochabers and the Spey estuary.
  • Dava Way is a path along the other branch of the former railway, between Grantown and Forres. The full route is about 23 miles (38 km), suitable for cycling, through woodland, farms and heath.
  • Truck In2 Grantown is a lorry rally and parade held in May, the next is Saturday 11 May 2024.
  • Tomintoul Highland Games are in mid-July, with the next probably on Sa 13 July 2024, tbc.
  • Grantown Agricultural Show is held in August on Heathfield Park.
  • Abernethy Highland Games are on the second Saturday in August at Nethy Bridge. Don't let Satnav hear of your plans, else it will try to take you to Abernethy the far side of Perth.

Buy edit

 
Spey Bridge into Grantown
  • Co-op Food on The Square is open daily 7AM-10PM.
  • Grantown Dairy, 25 High St PH26 3EG, +44 1479 872471. M-Sa 9AM-4PM. It does stock dairy produce but is mainly a greengrocer, with local fresh fruit and veg.
  • The Bookmark, 34 High Street PH26 3EH, +44 1479 873433. M-Sa 10AM-5:30PM. Wee gem of a bookstore with a wide selection.
  • Smarty Art, 39 High Street PH26 3HB, +44 7751 288393. W-Su 9:30AM-5PM. Paint your own piece of ceramics, they fire it in the kiln, then you collect in a couple of days or they can mail it.
  • Ewe and Me, 82-84 High Street PH26 3EL, +44 1479 872911. M-Sa 9:30AM-5PM. Gift shop in a three-house knock-through, will deliver.
  • Kiltmakers, 85 High Street PH26 3EW, +44 1479 872086. M-W F 10:30AM-4PM. Offering kilts, scarves, pins, shoes and sporrans. You can hire a kilt, or have one made to measure with your family tartan.
  • Cairngorms Farmers Market is held in The Square roughly once a month.

Eat edit

 
Museum and Bell tower
  • Po Pia (formerly No 7 Bistro), 7 The Square PH26 3HG, +44 1479 872771. Tu-Sa 5-8PM. Thai cuisine, try the seafood specials and the house curry.
  • Sylhet Brasserie, 36 The Square PH26 3HF, +44 1479 873536. Daily noon-2PM, 5-11PM. Small Bangladeshi restaurant.
  • The Wee Puffin, 15 High Street PH26 3EG, +44 1479 873377. F-M noon-9PM, Tu Th 5-9PM. Good trad fare, small friendly place.
  • Grantown Diner at 24 High St serves pizza, kebabs, burgers and the like, open M-Th noon-9PM,, F-Su 10AM-9PM.
  • The Craig Bar, Woodside Avenue PH26 3JN (block east of High St), +44 1479 872669. M-F 5-11PM, Sa Su 2-11PM. A fun and friendly bar serving good pies and pints.
  • High Street Merchants at 74 High St started out as an art gallery that served coffee, but has now turned into a cafe that also sells artwork. It's open W-Su 10AM-4:30PM.

Drink edit

  • Claymore Bar at 12 High St is open Su-Th 11AM-midnight, F Sa 11AM-1AM.
  • Whisky distilleries are mostly further east. Those within a short drive and open for tours are Tomintoul, Cragganmore, and Ballindalloch.
  • Balmenach two miles east of town produces Caorunn Gin and offers tours.

Sleep edit

 
The Square
  • 1 Grantown Caravan Park up Seafield Ave west side of town has tourer pitches and wigwams. They don't have camping pitches.
  • 2 The Garth, Castle Road PH26 3HN, +44 1479 787900. Comfy trad hotel. The restaurant serves non-residents. B&B double £145.
  • 3 Grant Arms Hotel, 25 The Square PH26 3HF, +44 1479 872526. 50-room hotel in the centre of town. Queen Victoria slept here in 1860. Has bar and restaurant. B&B double £150.
  • 4 Strathallan Guest House, Grant Road PH26 3LD, +44 1479 873930, . A great welcome at this smart Victorian villa with five en-suite bedrooms. No children under 18, assistance dogs only. B&B double £130.
  • 5 Craiglynne Hotel, Woodlands Terrace PH26 3JX, +44 1479 872597. Victorian granite pile in its own grounds with restaurant, bar and putting green. Rooms and fittings are creaky and showing their age. It's no longer part of Crerar Hotels. B&B double £80.
  • 6 Culdearn House, Woodlands Terrace PH26 3JU, +44 1479 872106, . Good reviews for this small family-owned house hotel open Mar-Jan. Assistance dogs only. B&B double £220.
  • 7 Tigh na Sgiath, Skye of Curr Rd, Nethy Bridge PH26 3PA, +44 1479 851345. Charming country house hotel in 1902 building, owned by a series of grocery tycoons. Dogs welcome. B&B double £170.
  • 8 Mountview Hotel, Grantown Rd, Nethy Bridge PH25 3EB, +44 1479 821248. The accommodation is okay for mid-range, it's the food that most impresses. The hotel is often group-booked by Heatherlea Birdwatching trips.

Connect edit

Grantown and the main roads and communities around it have 4G from all UK carriers. As of July 2023, 5G has not reached this area.

Go next edit

  • West going upriver, the valley broadens around Aviemore, then climbs towards Kingussie and Drumochter Pass.
  • East the valley descends into Moray, and a string of little coastal towns from Elgin to Fraserburgh.
  • Northwest is Inverness, an agreeable Victorian town, and a few miles east is the battlesite of Culloden.


Routes through Grantown-on-Spey
PerthAviemore  SW   NE  → Craigellachie (junction   to Elgin) → Keith (junction  )




This city travel guide to Grantown-on-Spey is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.