Aberdeenshire and Moray cover a large chunk of northern Scotland – some 3500 square miles, much of it open and varied country dotted with historic and archeological sights, from neat NTS properties and eerie prehistoric standing stones to quiet kirkyards and a rash of dramatic castles. Geographically, the counties break down into two distinct areas: the hinterland, once barren and now a patchwork of fertile farms, rising towards high mountains, sparkling rivers and gentle valleys; and the coast, a classic stretch of rocky cliffs, remote fishing villages and long, sandy beaches.
For visitors, the large city of Aberdeen is the obvious focal point of the region, and while it’s not a place to keep you engrossed for long, it does have some intriguing architecture, attractive museums and a lively social scene. From here, it’s a short hop west to Deeside, visited annually by the Royal Family, where the trim villages of Ballater and Braemar act as a gateway to the spectacular Cairngorms National Park, which covers much of the upland areas in the west of this region. Further north, the “Malt Whisky Country” of Speyside has less impressive scenery but numerous whisky distilleries, while the coast beyond features dramatic cliffs and long beaches punctuated by picturesque fishing villages.