After my forced confinement and government mandated exercise during the months of March, April and May, I found that I was left with a longing. A longing to escape from Edinburgh to nature, and immerse myself in the beauty that my small country has to offer. Already in my short time here, when talking about Scotland with the international community that this town attracts, the same conversation occurred over and over again.

“Where are you from?”

“Edinburgh”, I would reply, and then ask, “Have you ever been to Scotland before?”

The same answers would be come up time and time again, either “Yes, I’ve been to Edinburgh” or “No I haven’t, but I’d love to go to Edinburgh or Skye.”

My pent-up passion for the outdoors which built up meant that I wanted to write this monthly column to introduce readers of The Record to a wider range of Scottish destinations, which won’t be as swamped with tourists as Edinburgh or Skye!

For the first town, I’ve selected one which is close to my heart, Braemar. Being the endpoint of my final Duke of Edinburgh expedition, it has warm memories for me, but this town is so much more than a start or end point for expedition.

Situated right in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park, a 1 hour 45 minute drive from the centre of St Andrews, this picturesque highland town is a much more relaxing alternative for experiencing the national park than its neighbour on the other side of the plateau: Aviemore. A quintessential highland town, Braemar truly encapsulates all that is great about the national park. 

Must do activity

The ascent of Morrone is a simple yet stunning walk up a Corbett, which opens fantastic yet underrated views of the Cairngorm Plateau from the south. Its summit is marked by the Michael Goring memorial radio mast which provides a good amount of shelter on a windy day. Being a loop circuit, it’s the perfect way to burn some calories before enjoying a pint or six in one of Braemar’s many eateries. Detailed guides for this walk can be accessed through walkhighlands.

Most Instagram worthy spot

Despite the beautiful views from the top of Morrone, the River Dee which travels through Braemar is much more beautiful (and also a much simpler destination). Although, if you travel to Braemar with a car, the nearby Linn of Dee – a waterfall where the river travels through a gorge – is a must see. Also, the Linn of Dee car park is the start point of the Lairig Ghru, one of Scotland’s most legendary hiking roots, which is definitely worth the pain!

Fun Fact

Asides from hosting Scotland’s most renowned Highland gathering, which is attended by the Queen and other members of the royal family as they stay in the nearby Balmoral castle, Braemar is the proud owner of the highest altitude golf course in the British Isles!

Best for

A weekend away! Braemar’s relative closeness to St Andrews by car combined with the range of accommodation options (the village boasts a Youth Hostel, multiple hotels, a B&B as well as plenty of self-catering apartments and houses) means it is accessible to all price points. Unfortunately, without a car it becomes a lot more complicated to get to – however it truly is a hidden gem, which is certainly off the beaten track.