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Royal Deeside : Craigendarroch Hill at Ballater

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As anyone who has visited Ballater will be aware, the town sits at the foot of Craigendarroch Hill. Actually, the word 'hill' is redundant for Craigendarroch means 'Hill of Oaks'. This wonderful hill contains some beautiful short walks giving fine views across the town. There are also wonderful views of the Dee valley and Lochnagar. In autumn the contrasting colours of the oaks, pine and birch make it especially appealing.

The wood contains much wildlife and information boards within the wood help to provide a better understanding to the visitor.

The article below gives a brief background for this interesting place.

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Royal Station and Craigendarroch, Ballater
Craigendarroch Hill and wood form a backdrop for the old Royal Station at Ballater

Ballater, scenic capital of Deeside, nestles, Alpine style, at the foot of Craigendarroch Hill in what must be one of the most beautiful settings in Scotland. Few can fail to be impressed by the magnificence of the scenery surrounding this quiet, unspoiled village.

Craigendarroch is a remnant of the ancient plateau surface which was deeply dissected by the glaciers of the last ice age. The name is derived from two Gaelic words - "Craig" for crag or hill and "darroch" meaning oak. The name is entirely appropriate for the hill is a time capsule harbouring one of the last stands of oak on Deeside. Before the influence of man and his need for agriculture, the oak was the dominant climax vegetation in this part of Deeside. Now only a few stands remain and Craigendarroch is one the finest examples. However, it is thought even these oaks were planted by man although, of course, the hill must at one time have supported a natural oak wood. The first recorded use of the name "Hill of the Oaks" was in the early 18th century, but oak trees are known to have been present on Craigendarroch for well over three hundred years.

The pattern of the present wood suggests that it has been planted and managed as a coppice. The cuttings were extensively used in the local leather tanning industry, but prior to that full grown trees were felled to provide timber which was used to build ships. Some were also used for pews in a church in Aberdeen.

The commercial exploitation of the wood ceased towards the end of the 19th century - most of the present trees are approximately 120 years old. Now the wood remains as the jewel in the botanical crown of the flora of Deeside. It is a reminder of things past, a place to be enjoyed from within and from afar, a haven for a myriad of flora and fauna, but above all, a safe and delightful walking place for all who come to Ballater.

These features have been recognised nationally, leading to the designation of Craigendarroch as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and all of Royal Deeside as a National Scenic Area.

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Introduction Journey through Deeside A Dram of Whisky 1 A Dram of Whisky 2 Forests and Woodlands Lochnagar
The River Dee Red Squirrels Craigendarroch Hill, Ballater Clachnaben by Banchory Braemar Weather  




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