Things to do in Tomintoul, Moray
Tomintoul is said to be the highest village in the Scottish Highlands. However, at 1,132 feet (345m) above sea level, it is much lower than Wanlockhead which at 1,417 feet (432m) is the highest village in the whole of Scotland.
In 1755 a military road was built in the area by William Caulfield, now the route of the A939. The village was started in 1775 and was designed on a grid system by the 4th Duke of Gordon. He intended it to be the centre of the flax and linen industry but it never succeeded.
The community grew steadily and by 1841 it had a population of 1,722. However population in the area later declined as people moved away in search of employment. The village dropped to 531 residents by 1951 and 322 by the 2001 census.
Present Day Tomintoul
Tomintoul was chosen as the location for the film One Last Chance, made in 2004 and starring Kevin McKidd and Dougray Scott.
Glenlivet is a fine single malt Scotch whisky, which has been distilled in the area since 1824. It was famously declared by King George IV to be the best whisky in Scotland.
Artist Mary Barnes spent her final years living in the peace of Tomintoul. Other famous residents include Peter Toplis, known as the Monocled Mutineer. He hid in the area in the 1920s but a local farmer discovered him. Both the farmer and a policeman were shot as he made his escape, but Toplis was hunted down and shot a week later.
Another interesting Tomintoul character was £Lord£ Tony Williams. He spent over £1 million improving the Gordon Arms Hotel and everyone assumed he was a true peer of the realm.
His fantasy life came to an end when it was discovered that he was a former Deputy Director of Finance for the Metropolitan Police Force. He had defrauded them of £4.5 million and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. One of the unsolved mysteries was why he had a Zulu boat in his wine cellar, 65 miles from the sea.
One final local resident of infamy was James Stuart who was recorded in the Kirk records of Tomintoul and neighbouring parishes as the father of several servants' children.
Things to do in Tomintoul
The Glenlivet Distillery Visitor Centre is at Ballindalloch, ten miles north of Tomintoul on the B9008 and makes an interesting day out.
The Cairngorms offer gentle strolls or more challenging climbs to the summit of some of Scotland's highest peaks. The area is rich in wildlife and visitors may see endangered species such as red squirrels, golden eagles, white hares, crested tits and black grouse as well as deer.
Other activities include mountain biking, horseriding, fishing and visiting local museums. In the winter the Cairngorms offers winter sports, including skiing, as snow often lingers into spring.