My drive out to Glenlivet last week was stunning. Just over an hour from home, I went to talk to The Crown Estate about hosting the journalists coming to Scotland for the 2014 IFAJ Congress on September next year.
This beautiful Highland estate is a community, a wilderness, a haven for wildlife and a farming enterprise. It is a tough place to live and work, but those doing so seem to mould themselves to its harsh contours with patience and understanding.
The Crown Estate has a vision which makes perfect sense to me - it invests in projects which will build and secure the future for the local businesses. One such investment is a maze of mountain bike tracks due to open this summer. The staggering 8km downhill run nestles neatly into the hillside, it is completely unseen from any road, designed with routes for hardcore bikers or families and will have a mountainside hub cafe to give weary pedlars some welcome sustenance.
But the best thing about the mountain bike tracks is that it is an investment for the community, to boost the draw for local tourism. The area around Tomintoul already has a great deal going for it, particular for those with an appetite for Scotland and its majestic outdoors - walking, country sports or wildlife spotting; and also for those on the heritage and whisky circuit.
I walked with my host, Alan, to Carn Daimh, a peak overlooking the estate with lovely views out towards the remote summits of Ben Avon, Beinn a Bhuird and the north eastern Cairngorms.
It isthe 'Diversification, Forestry and Energy' itinerary that we plan to host on the estate in September 2014. Our aim is to show how an upland estate can sustain families and businesses from this tough upland area. It is a gem of a place and one that remain in a visitor's heart and memory for a very long time.
To find out more about the estate go to: http://www.glenlivetestate.co.uk/