Scotland’s Aberdeenshire: Uncover 900 years of queens, castles and royal heritage

For 9 hundred years British royals from Robert the Bruce to Queen Victoria have taken up residence within the castles of Aberdeenshire, leaving a wealthy and interesting legacy.

In actual fact when Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert chosen Balmoral Fort as their summer time residence that Aberdeenshire immediately turned a vacationer hotspot.

There are a number of stunning castles and fascinating websites which have a royal connection, all inside 1.5 hour’s drive of the royal warrant city of Ballater.

Listed below are seven of our favorite locations to go to in Aberdeenshire to get your royal repair.

Balmoral Fort

Balmoral Castle and grounds

Balmoral Fort and grounds (c) Lucy Woods

Balmoral has been the summer time residence of the British Royal household for greater than 100 years. Bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert within the 1852, the royal couple and their household spent many completely happy instances right here, with Queen Victoria famously recalling in her diary: “All appeared to breathe freedom and peace, and to make one neglect the world and its unhappy turmoils.”

In the present day, Balmoral is equally beloved by HRH Queen Elizabeth II, who travels to Balmoral with Prince Phillip every year from late July to October for a number of months of recuperation.

Inside the Victorian glasshouse at Balmoral

Contained in the Victorian glasshouse at Balmoral (c) Lucy Woods

The property is open to the general public from April to July, and guests can discover the magnificent grounds and gardens. The ballroom can be open to guests, and hosts a grand royal exhibition that includes pictures, work and artworks belonging to the royal household.

Guests can stroll round fantastically tended grounds with relative freedom. Through the summer time, the gardeners work tirelessly to make sure the flowers bloom in time for the Queen’s arrival. Lilies, fuchsias and vibrant begonias line the greenhouse, and the gardens and Victorian glasshouse are an eruption of shiny colors and floral fragrances.

Royal Lochnagar whisky tour

Subsequent door to Balmoral is the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, so named after the close by three,000ft Lochnagar Mountain. The whisky distillery was constructed by a person named John Begg in 1845, after the unique distillery burnt down in suspicious circumstances in 1841.

John had the nice sense to ask Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to pattern a dram of his most interesting whisky once they first visited Balmoral in 1848. The royal identify was bestowed on the distillery quickly after and to today they provide circumstances of their finest whisky to their royal neighbours. It’s mentioned Prince Charles is kind of the fan.

Now owned by the multinational alcohol producer, Diageo, Royal Lochnagar stays one of many smallest distilleries in Scotland, producing round 450,000 litres a yr (600,000-700,000 bottles). Guests can participate within the every day whisky excursions and be taught in regards to the course of of manufacturing a discover bottle of Scotch whisky, from inception to bottling. The tour ends with a tasting of two totally different whiskies.

Drum Fort

Drum Castle

Drum Fort (c) Lucy Woods

Drum Fort, now a Nationwide Belief property, was the household residence of the Irvines of Drum for greater than 650 years. The property lands have been awarded to William de Irwin in 1323 by Robert the Bruce, who led Scotland throughout the First Struggle of Scottish Independence towards the English. The picturesque fort has gone via a number of renovations over the centuries, and the oldest a part of the fort to outlive is the magnificent 13th century tower.

Walled Garden at Drum Castle

Walled Backyard at Drum Fort (c) Lucy Woods

Each the grounds and inside of the fort are open to guests, and there are every day excursions. Anticipate excessive ceilings, vintage furnishings and loads of portraits together with one in every of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The highest ground of the tower hosts a contemporary artwork exhibition, which offers an fascinating distinction to the remainder of the inside. The fort gardens are gorgeous with a fantastic walled backyard with loads of secret areas to get misplaced in.

Royal Deeside Railway

The Royal Deeside Railway, a gauge steam and diesel hauled heritage railway, as soon as fashioned a part of the Deeside Railway that after transported members of the royal household to Ballater (only a quick distance from Balmoral). Prince Charles visited the railway in 2018 and even had a go at driving the steam practice.

Royal Deeside Railway

Royal Deeside Railway (c) Lucy Woods

The railway has been painstakingly restored by a voluntary society for over 20 years, and options a number of working steam trains and an authentic battery operated practice, which was beloved by the Queen Mom for its relative silence.

The steam trains run each Sunday and extra repeatedly in the summertime months for guests, who can get pleasure from a historic experience via the beautiful panorama of Royal Deeside. The carriages are all originals, and the passionate volunteers are wanting to share the historical past of those fascinating locomotives.

Passengers can decide to have a scrumptious cream tea on board for simply £18 (together with the experience ticket) – finest to e-book prematurely. 

Braemar Highland Video games Centre

Braemar Highland Games Centre

Braemar Highland Video games Centre (c) Lucy Woods

For those who’re planning a go to to Aberdeenshire in September, pay a go to to the Braemar Highland Video games Centre to observe the Braemar Highland Gathering. Held on the primary Saturday in September, the occasion is open to the general public and is attended by the reigning Monarch and members of the royal household.

The yearly spectacle includes women and men battling it out in quite a lot of trendy and conventional sports activities, from the excessive soar to the caber toss, full with bagpipes and Scottish reeling.

Ploughman's lunch Braemar Highland Games Centre

Wonderful Ploughman’s lunch on the Braemar Highland Video games Centre (c) Lucy Woods

For those who miss out on the gathering, you’ll be able to nonetheless go to the centre and have a look across the everlasting exhibition in The Duke of Rothesay Highland Video games Pavilion, named in honour of Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.

The exhibition tells the story of the highland video games and its proud Scottish heritage. There may be additionally a captivating café adorned in Duke of Rothesay tartan which serves a scrumptious ploughman’s platter with Balmoral bread.

Fort Fraser

Fort Fraser sits on 300 acres of land and has been residence to the Fraser household for greater than 400 years. It was gifted to the Nationwide Belief within the 1970s, and has been a movie location on a number of events, most importantly as a double of Balmoral Fort throughout the filming of the Oscar successful movie The Queen, starring Helen Mirren.

Castle Fraser

Fort Fraser (c) Lucy Woods

Fort Fraser has a number of uncommon options that replicate the whimsies of the Fraser household. This consists of the “laird’s lug”, a particular window and secret room that allowed the laird (the land proprietor) to listen in on his visitors.

The fort was tailored once more by Charles Mackenzie Fraser within the 19th century. He misplaced his leg whereas preventing for the Duke of Wellington in Spain, however by no means allowed this obstacle to stop him from his duties as a laird.

The grounds of Fort Fraser has a fantastic walled backyard, which was commissioned by Elyza Fraser, laird of the fort between 1772 and 1814. It was uncommon on the time for a girls to play such an lively position in property administration.

Slains Fort

Slains Castle

Slains Fort (c) Lucy Woods

Slains Fort (to not be confused with the close by Outdated Slains Fort) is the one ruined fort on this listing, and an absolute must-visit. First constructed within the 16th century, it fell on exhausting instances and the ultimate proprietor eliminated the roof to be able to keep away from paying taxes in 1925. Overlooking Cruden Bay, the fort is free to enter and discover.  

Slains Fort is most well-known for its connection to Bram Stoker: it’s believed the fort supplied the inspiration for Dracula’s fort in his beloved gothic novel. The fort additionally featured within the first season of The Crown, as a stand-in for Fort Mey when the Queen Mom visits Scotland.

Reality File

FLY:  Flybe and British Airways fly Aberdeen Worldwide Airport.

STAY: In case your base is Ballater, e-book a room at Darroch Learg Resort. The newly renovated resort has fantastically furnished rooms, beautiful views and a heat, welcoming ambiance.

Ardoe House Hotel & Spa

Ardoe Home Resort & Spa (c) Lucy Woods

For positive eating and spa leisure, strive Ardoe Home Resort & Spa, which is a part of the Mercure model. The 19th century mansion home is impressed by Balmoral Fort and is simply three miles from Aberdeen. The spa is great and has a good sized indoor swimming pool.

EAT: In Ballatar, there are a number of wonderful eating places, together with The Clachan Grill and the Rothesay Rooms, which was opened on the behest of Prince Charles after a horrible flood in 2015 nearly introduced the city to its knees. Each eating places serve conventional Scottish fare with a contemporary twist.

Lunch at the Kilmarnock Arms

Lunch on the Kilmarnock Arms (c) Lucy Woods

TIP: For those who plan a go to to Slains Fort cease by the Kilmarnock Arms, the place Bram Stoker stayed for a number of days. See the guestbook along with his authentic signature.

GETTING AROUND: Aberdeenshire is the right location for a highway journey, however there are additionally loads of bus choices – simply keep away from taxis if potential as they’re fairly costly.

For extra info go to

Recommended Articles