Cromdale is an excellent centre for exploring the Highland Railway and the remains of the Great North of Scotland Railway.
From Aviemore, mainline trains can be taken south to Perth and north to Inverness, and it is also the headquarters of the Strathspey Railway who operate steam trains to Boat of Garten and Broomhill. Ultimately their plan is to extend the line to Grantown-on-Spey to a rebuild around the location of the HR’s Grantown-on-Spey West original station. From there it is possible to trace much of the original line to Forres using the Dava Way. This was the original main line to Inverness.
Similarly, much of the Great North of Scotland’s Speyside Line can be traced on the Speyside Way, starting from Boat of Garten. The station at Grantown-on-Spey East has recently been restored and converted, now known as ‘The Highland Heritage and Cultural Centre’. It includes 2 Mk1 British Railways carriages which are now used as a restaurant. The Centre is open all year round, each day from 10.00 am. Further up the line there are several other station buildings which have survived.
From Cromdale, it is possible to trace the line of the former distillery branch to Balmenach, a mile or two towards the Cromdale Hills. The 0-4-0 Barclay steam locomotive which operated the line (the Puggy) is in the yard at Boat of Garten. Balmenach Distillery itself holds guided tours for its ‘Caorunn Gin Experience’.
Further to the east, at Dufftown can be found another heritage centre – Keith and Dufftown Railway who operate trains, mainly diesel multiple units along their 11 mile stretch close to the river Isla.
Other railway centres of interest are obviously Inverness, Elgin and Aberdeen.