Aberlour, officially named 'Charlestown on Aberlour' is a small town situated mid-way between Inverness and Aberdeen in the Spey Valley beside the Cairngorm Mountains. Aberlour has been home to Walkers Shortbread for more than 110 years, exporting the finest quality bakery products to over eighty countries around the world. Still an independent family concern to this day, the company is headed by the founder's grandchildren, who faithfully maintain the tradition of producing the finest shortbreads, biscuits, cakes, oatcakes and meringues to original recipes using only natural ingredients.
Archiestown, the only village in the parish of Knockando was founded in 1760 by Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk who had inherited his “Highland Estate” on his marriage. The village has always been a vibrant community and until recent years was pretty self-sufficient with school, church, district nurse, policeman, shops, blacksmith and undertaker to tend villagers every need. The village retains much of its original character and is a designated Conservation Village.
The Cabrach is one of the top thirty most remote zones in Scotland. It occupies an area of ten miles wide by eight miles long consisting of wild mountainous terrain and spectacular scenery. It is an area of great natural beauty with unspoilt views over mountains and skies.
Carron lies on the north side of the River Spey where it flows through a steep sided, wooded valley three miles west of Aberlour.
Craigellachie lies at the very heart of Speyside. This is the place where the two rivers most closely associated with the Scotch Whisky industry, the Spey and the Fiddich, meet. Craigellachie Bridge over the River Spey was built by Thomas Telford in 1814. A plaque on one of the castellated towers guarding the entrance to the bridge records that the metalwork was cast in Wales: another that the bridge was restored to this, something like its original condition, in 1964.
The town was originally named Mortlach in the Middle Ages, until the 19th century when the Earl of Fife, James Duff, built the town as a housing for soldiers returning home from war. He named the town Dufftown.
Dufftown is situated in the heart of Malt Whisky Country and can boast it has six working distilleries. Dufftown's notable buildings include Balvenie Castle, which was partly built with stones from the ruins of nearby Auchindoun Castle.
Edinvillie's scattered rural community sits between Ben Rinnes, Moray's highest mountain (840m), and the Conval Hills in beautiful scenery south of Aberlour. The area surrounding Edinvillie including Ben Rinnes has been home to settlers since prehistoric times, there is evidence all around the area of hut circles, cairns and field systems. A prehistoric flint flake knife was discovered on Ben Rinnes and there have been many cairns discovered on Meikle Conval, even an Iron Age fort on Little Conval.
Glenlivet is an area of high heather clad hills, rushing water, forests, farms, stunning views, waymarked forest walks and salmon fishing on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park. An old poem says "Glenlivet has its castles three, Drumin, Blairfindie and Deskie - and more famous than castles three, it has one distillery" (the Glenlivet) This last statement is not true as Glenlivet boasts five working distilleries. Glenfarclas, Glenlivet, Cragganmore, Tamnavulin and Braeval.
Glenrinnes is a scattered community south-west of Dufftown and centred around an active village hall which specialises is serving up delicious Sunday morning breakfasts during the summer season. The community nestles beneath the towering Benrinnes (840m) and along the valley of the River Dullan.
Two major distilleries – Cardhu and Knockando – border this charming village which is also home to Knockando Woollen Mill – a dilapidated but still functioning tweed mill which featured on the TV programme “Restoration”. Currently nearing the end of its major restoration project, the mill will become a major visitor attraction for Speyside.
One of the main distilling towns – it has four distilleries including Glen Grant – Rothes is also home base for famous coppersmiths Forsyths, who work with the drinks and oil industries around the world. The Combination of Rothes Distilleries plant, which gives the town its distinctive Marmite odour, used whisky waste to make animal feed pellets and is soon to be converting distillery waste into biofuel.
The highest village in the Highlands, Tomintoul neighbours the Lecht ski centre and is soon to have a major mountain biking attraction added to its wide-ranging network of paths into the nearby hills and mountains. A planned village based around a central square, Tomintoul has a museum, art galleries, hotels, restaurants, a famous specialist whisky shop and The Glenlivet Estate visitor centre.