For five years, Monarch of the Glen brought some of TV’s best-known names to our screens on a Sunday evening, Richard Briers, Susan Hampshire and Tom Baker among them. But one of the biggest stars of the show was the Scottish countryside. Filmed around Badenoch and Strathspey, the heartwarming drama was set against a stunning backdrop of mountains, glens and lochs.
Loosely based on the novels of Compton Mackenzie, the series followed the trials and tribulations of Archie MacDonald as he struggled to turn around the ailing fortunes of his family’s Highland estate. Although the series ended in 2005 after 64 episodes, the adventures of the MacDonald clan still draw people to this beautiful corner of Scotland.
Begin in Carrbridge. Here the village hall made several appearances as Glenbogle village hall. More than 100 years old, it sits at the heart of the community and has hosted a range of events, including the annual World Porridge Championships.
Head east from Carrbridge on the A938 to Dulnain Bridge, then follow the A95 south to Broomhall station. Northern terminus of the preserved Strathspey Steam Railway, the halt witnessed many arrivals and departures as Glenbogle station.
From Broomhill, a minor road leads south to Nethy Bridge, joining the B970 to Coylumbridge and Inverdruie. If you fancy stretching your legs, make the short detour south to Loch an Eilein, which made a brief appearance in the first series of Monarch. There is a fine circuit around the loch, with views of its island castle.
1. TWENTY MILES
At the southern end of Aviemore, the B970 joins the B9152 to Kingussie and Newtonmore. The road passes Kincraig, invaded by the Bank of England Harley Davidson Club in episode seven of the first series, and the Highland Wildlife Park, which provided the wolves for Archie MacDonald’s zoo venture. Two miles on, 18th-century Balavil House was home to Lord Kilwillie – in real life it is a B&B. Kingussie and Newtonmore both appeared in the show, as did Ruthven Barracks, a mile south of Kingussie.
2. THIRTY FOUR MILES
From Newtonmore – where members of the cast stayed at the Coig na Shee guesthouse – the A86 leads to Laggan, the fictional village of Glenbogle. The primary school was Glenbogle School, the craft shop was transformed into Wallace’s Garage and Funeral Directors and the village shop became MacKechnie’s Stores.
3. FORTY ONE MILES
From Laggan, head west on the A86 to Strathmashie Forest, where there are woodland trails, including a hike to waterfalls on the River Pattack.
At Kinloch Laggen the road passes a gatehouse on the left, entrance to Ardverikie Estate, where most of the series was filmed. Neither the estate nor Ardverikie House, built in 1877, are open to the public, but if you continue down Loch Laggan, you get a grand view of the house, a fitting end to this exploration of Monarch of the Glen country.
A and B roads throughout, with one short section on a minor road.
HOW TO GET THERE
Carrbridge is 6 miles north of Aviemore on the A9 Perth to Inverness road.
By public transport:
First Scotrail services on the Glasgow/Edinburgh to Inverness line stop at Aviemore and Carrbridge. The nearest airport is Inverness. Car hire is available in Inverness and Aviemore.
Tel: 0845 601 5929
The Tipsy Laird
68 High Street, Kingussie PH21 1HZ
Tel: 01540 661334
Highland Wildlife Park Kincraig, Kingussie PH21 1NL
Tel: 01540 651270
Open: Apr-Oct, 10am-5pm; Jul-Aug, 10am-6pm; Nov-Mar, 10am-4pm. Adults £11.50, concessions £9.50,
Ordnance Survey Landranger Maps 35, 36 and 42
Grid ref: NH 906 230
Aviemore Tourist Information Centre, Grampian Road, Aviemore PH22 1PP
Tel: 01479 810363