Braemar, Balmoral and Deeside
‘ A great tour for those interested in royal retreats and majestic scenery ’
The route north to Braemar is through a rather stark, mountainous landscape whereas Royal Deeside as it has become known, has acres of spectacular native Scots Pine forests, immaculate castles and estates sharing some of the best riverside and hill scenery in Scotland.
The Queen’s Balmoral Estate is undoubtably the best known landmark on this tour but once we reach Deeside there is a selection of visits and scenic routes from which to choose.
Main tour landmarks
Please note the order of visits may vary depending on collection point.
Collection at Hotel.
- The Cairnwell Pass (Photo stop)
Wild scenery along the highest ‘A’ road in Scotland, notorious for being blocked with snow in winter at points like the Spittal of Glenshee. The route enters the Cairngorm National Park home to protected wildlife like capercaillie and wild cat
- Braemar (Photo stop)
Picturesque highland village straddling the River Dee and location of the world famous, 900 year old Braemar Gathering attended by the Royal Family each September.
- Mar Lodge Estate (Morning coffee stop overlooking the estate)
A 20,000 acre estate now owned by the National Trust for Scotland and maintained by them as an important area of nature conservation. Stunning viewpoint over the River Dee.
Having reached Deeside the landmarks that follow are all options which can be combined in a number of ways to give you a choice of visits and scenic routes.
- Braemar to Crathie
The road runs through forests of Scots Pines alongside the River Dee which gives Deeside its unique atmosphere. The local mountain is Lochnagar, a favourite haunt of the famous poet Lord Byron
- Balmoral Castle and Estate (Depending on date, Grounds, Ballroom and Exhibition Visit)
A Royal Family residence originally purchased by Queen Victoria, set in stunning grounds with numerous memorial cairns. Home to the Queen’s highland ponies and prize winning highland cattle. (Please note access restrictions apply between August and April)
The lunch and afternoon tea stops are adjusted to suit your selection. Wet weather lunch stop indoors.
- The Royal Lochnagar Distillery (Guided Tour and wee dram)
Visit and guided tour of the small, local whisky distillery granted royal patronage in 1848. Now produces a golden 12 year old single malt
- The parish church at Crathie (Guided Tour)
A classic granite stone church standing amongst beautiful pine trees, where the Royal Family worship when in residence at Balmoral. The original 14th century church ruins and John Brown’s grave (a faithful gillie to Queen Victoria) are close by
- The Deeside town of Ballater (Photo stop)
Pristine highland town on the River Dee with numerous shops displaying their Royal Warrants (the greatest number of any town in Scotland). Queen Victoria’s royal train used to terminate at the town station (now undergoing a complete re-build following a fire)
- Gairnshiel Bridge (Photo stop)
A short scenic loop north of Ballater following the River Gairn. As the single track road drops down from the summit of The Strone there are amazing long ranging views towards Lochnagar
- Brig A Dee (Photo stop)
Site of the original 1753 bridge over the River Dee at the boundary of the Balmoral estate, used as the backdrop for a ‘honeymoon’ photo-call by Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981
- Braemar Castle (Guided Tour)
Visit to a classic 17th century ‘L plan’ Scottish Tower House which was heavily fought over in the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745. Reputedly haunted by ‘the black colonel’ ghost. Until 1982 it was the home of the Chiefs of Farquharson and today the castle rooms are just as they were left at that date.
We return south on the A93, keeping an eye out for mountain hare and red deer, whilst passing parts of the old road with its notorious hairpin bends such as the ‘Devils Elbow’
Return to Hotel
The price for this tour is £185 per person.
This price includes:
- Collection and return to your hotel
- Luxury tour transport
- Mid morning coffee and shortbread
- Al-fresco picnic lunch (see menu)
- Mid afternoon tea and pastries
- Entry fees at tour visit stops
- Tour information pack
Tour timings are flexible to suit your day though normally within the window;
Pick up 9.00am
Approx tour mileage is 150 miles (240km)