Our group discussed a few options for what to do along the way to Edinburgh, and Eric and I were outvoted in favor of a trip to the east coast for castle and shore views. Our first stop was in Tomintoul for The Whisky Castle, a whisky shop with 6-7 independent bottlers of one-off casks and quite a few samples available for tastings. Because of the location, they specialize in Speyside distilleries and most offerings are 50-100 pounds per bottle. After trying a sample, I couldn’t pass up a bottle of a 17 yr old scotch that smelled (and tasted) just like the coast – coconut and salt spray. Delicious.
Heading east through some of the Cairngorms National Park along the River Dee, we eventually reached Stonehaven after about 1.5 hours. Grabbing a parking spot in a small pull-out, we hiked up the hill to great views of the village below.
There was also a beautiful war memorial at the peak of Black Hill.
Eric and I hiked along the cliff-side trail, enjoying the coconut-scented gorse bushes, to get some panoramic views of Strathlethan Bay and Dunnottar Castle.
Although there were storms in the bay, we stayed dry on shore. Very lucky for us! After a nice hour-long hike, we piled back into the car and started our journey to Edinburgh – then no more driving for me!