Sleepy Sporran Tours

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.

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Tour landmarks

This tour will be tailored to suit your hotel location and your personal interests / preferences. Refreshment and lunch stops are planned for places of interest or good viewpoints.


Meet up and collection at your Hotel.

  • The Cairnwell Pass - The Snow Road (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 wildcat. Good route for spotting red deer.
  • 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. Links to Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • 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 (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.
  • Balmoral Castle and Estate (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 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 (Church 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 a visitor centre.
  • Cock Bridge and The Watchers (Photo stop)
    A ‘hill hugging’ winding road with steep climbs and drops that reveals fantastic views across of upper Deeside and the Cairngorm National Park. The Watchers is an unusual art installation positioned to maximise the stunning viewpoint.
  • Tomnavarie’s Stone Circle (Photo stop)
    A recumbent stone circle from 2,500 years ago sited on the top of a prominent hill giving unrestricted 360 degree views over Strathbogie. Due to its layout it is thought to be linked to the cycles of the moon.
  • 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 O' 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 (Castle 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 Clan Farquharson and today the castle rooms are just as they were left at that date.
  • Glenshee and Connecting Contours (Photo stop)
    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’, where you can sit on ‘Connecting Contours’ and watch the sun set over the hills.

Return to your Hotel

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Tour pricing


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


Tour timings are flexible to suit your day though normally within the window;
Pick up 9.00am
Return  6.00pm
Approx tour mileage is 150 miles (240km)
All major credit cards accepted