Introduction to Royal Deeside, Scotland 1
In the heart of Scotland is the magnificent valley of the River Dee. Rising high in the Cairngorm Mountains and running east to its mouth at Aberdeen, the river is surrounded by some of Scotland's finest scenery. Midway, in the shadow of Lochnagar, lies royal Balmoral Castle, summer home of the Royal Family. For 150 years, beginning with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the connection between the valley and the family has been continuous; hence the title of Royal Deeside.
The great joy of the valley is that so much is contained within such a small area. The western end lies within the newly formed Cairngorms National Park with its focal point Ben MacDui, the second highest mountain in Scotland. The eastern end is a fine fertile valley of rolling farmland. For the active, there is a wide range of pursuits including hill-walking, skiing (at Glenshee), fishing and golf. For the tourist there are castles, distilleries, visitor centres and more, all surrounded by beautiful scenery. Supporting these, the shops and accommodation are amongst the best to be found in Scotland.
Between Banchory and Braemar, a distance of only 40 miles, there are some 10 golf courses (plus the private course at Balmoral). The golf course at Braemar is the highest 18-hole course in Britain.
The area is rich with history. It was here the relics of St Andrew were first held in Scotland. Here too, Macbeth was defeated by Malcolm Canmore who then extended his connection by holding games, the direct descendent of which is the world famous Braemar Gathering and Highland Games. As a boy Lord Byron lived on a farm between Ballater and Aboyne and later wrote the poem ‘Dark Lochnagar’ about the nearby mountain. Scot Skinner square in Banchory commemorates the links between the town and 'the Strathspey King'. John Brown, Queen Victoria’s famous servant, was born at Crathie. This period of history is the focus of the Victorian Heritage Trail.
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