First came the North Coast 500 – a 500-mile driving (and cycling) route around the north-west of Scotland – and now there is the new North East 250, which is also a road journey but in the north-east of Scotland.
Given the success of the NC500 – acclaimed as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66 – and with so many tourism attractions and businesses reporting a huge surge in visitor numbers, it’s not difficult to see why other regions would want their share of the tourism boost as well.
Indeed, a study by the University of Glasgow Training and Employment Research Unit estimates that the North Coast 500 attracted 29,000 additional visitors and £9million additional spend in its first year.
Now the North East 250 hopes to attract more visitors to the north-eastern corner of Scotland – and give NC50 drivers (or cyclists) another route to follow.
What is the North East 250?
The NE250 was the idea of local businessman and owner of Ballindalloch Castle, Guy Macpherson-Grant, whose family has had roots in the north-east of Scotland since the 16th century. Spotting the potential for an economic boost thanks to a new Scottish trail route, he set about gathering local interest and support for the 250-mile route.
The route, which launched late last year, is circular and takes in a diverse landscape of mountains, moors, coast and rolling farmland in eastern Perthshire, the Cairngorms, Speyside, Moray, the East Coast, Aberdeenshire and Royal Deeside.
It can be driven clockwise or anti-clockwise and allows for stops and overnights in a large number of villages and towns. A vast collection of attractions, including castles, distilleries, mountains, ski resorts, coastal villages, beaches, golf course and forests offer plentiful diversions.
The route is most obviously started from the region’s city of Aberdeen (via the airport or main train terminal) or another entrance point reached by car, Spittal of Glenshee, just south the Glenshee mountains and ski resort.
Guy believes the new route offers visitors the “very best that Scotland has to offer”.
He said: “I am excited by the potential of the North East 250 to bring more visitors to our area. I hope that more businesses along the route will get behind it and help make it the success I know it can be.”
Jo Robinson, regional director at VisitScotland, reckons the NE250 will be a welcome asset to the north east.
She added: “It’s hoped this new route will simulate the success of other similar routes around Scotland, especially the NC500, and that it will bring economic benefit to the area and its tourism businesses through increased visitors.”
Official sponsors of the route include Chivas, Ballindalloch Castle and Gardens, Turcan Connell, Walkers Shortbread, Aberdeen International Airport and Speyside Gardens.
My four-day trip on the NE250
It would be possible to drive the 250 miles in one long day (if you do not want to visit the attractions), or a long weekend or, better still, a week to 10 days.
I spent four days driving from Spittal of Glenshee clockwise and enjoyed three nights in campsites along the way. I found I had time to visit several attractions each day or a couple of attractions that I wanted to properly explore.
I confess there was a lot more I wanted to see and do – the choice of attractions and places to visit is impressive – so I plan to return for another similar trip in due course.
The brief details:
Day 1: Spittal of Glenshee to Aberlour
Overnight: Speyside Gardens camping and caravan park
Dinner at Dowans Hotel, Aberlour
Day 2: Aberlour to Banff
Overnight: Wester Bonnyton Caravan and Camping Site, Gamrie, Banff.
Dinner at Banff Springs Hotel.
Day 3: Banff to Maryculter, south-west of Aberdeen.
Overnight: Deeside Holiday Park, Maryculter
Dinner: Bought from a local Tesco and eaten in the van.
Day 4: Maryculter back to Spittal of Glenshee
Getting to the NE250
I drove from my home near Glasgow via Stirling and Perth on motorways and then headed for Spittal of Glenshee through the town of Blairgowrie. There a different ways to reach Glenshee so it’s best to use on-line route finder or satnav.
Collect NE250 passport stamps
A North East 250 Passport allows visitors to collect stamps in each sector of the route: Speyside, Royal Deeside, Cairngorms, Moray Firth Coast, East Coast and Aberdeen.
To receive the souvenir you need to become a member of the North East 250 or buy it from a number of businesses along the route and on the website.
A completed passport allows you to download a certificate of completion from the North East 250 website.
For more information see North East 250.