Royal Deeside and South Highlands
The areas that bound the River Dee show the heart of Scotland, Scots pines in glades of heather and bluebells, pristine villages like Braemar and well-kept country Estates. As the hills rise the slopes are shrouded in forests that give way to the mountains like Lochnagar. To the east the flat lands of rural Aberdeenshire, to the west the whisky distilleries of Speyside and the mountains of the Cairngorms.
Stunning Landscapes and Views with the ‘Wow’ Factor
- ‘The Watchers’ and ‘Still’ sculptures - Several long distance views from elevated viewpoints across the hills of Strathdon and beyond. Unique sculptures and isolated castles add to the experience.
- Mar Lodge - Extensive views over the River Dee with the backdrop of several Cairngorm ‘Munros' like Ben MacDui, Cairn Gorm and more. A good place for spotting red deer.
- Loch Morlich - Right in the centre of the Cairngorms National Park, a tranquil loch with a sandy shoreline. Various stunning views around the loch and from elevated viewpoints on the hills beyond.
- Glen Shee - The southern access route to Royal Deeside that is the highest A road in Scotland, over the The Cairnwell Pass. Spectacular views all the way, especially from the sculpture, ‘Connecting Contours'.
- Tomnaverie’s Stones - 360 degree vistas across the region from inside a Bronze Age ring of recumbent stones on the top of a hill near Tarland. Thought to be a site of ceremonial rituals to the moon.
- Moray Firth Coastline - Pristine little fishing villages like Findochty and features like Bow String Rock. Wonderfull sea coast vistas with potential for whale and dolphin watching.
Some Attraction Ideas
- Gardens - Despite being a region with hostile weather there is an amazing selection of gardens and plants. Balmoral - sunken gardens and conservatory, Crathes Castle - topiary and endless flowing borders of colour, Drum Castle - famed for its historic rose collection, Pitmeddan Gardens - parterres, scented shrubs and an orchard of 200 fruit trees.
- Castles - Balmoral Estate is beautiful and the best known but there are others, Craigivar Castle (fairytale), Castle Fraser (traditional Scottish), Braemar Castle (Haunted), Dunotter Castle (perched on a sea cliff) Delgatie Castle (dating from around 1049), Cawdor Castle (Macbeth’s home).
- Johnston’s of Elgin - Producers of top quality cashmere and woollen clothing. Tour the mill and see how these classic products are made by one of Scotland’s oldest surviving manufacturers (Founded 1797).
- Highland Folk Museum - A complete history of Highland life from 1700’s to the 1960’s shown through 25 buildings and extensive machinery collections. Includes a restored 1700’s ‘Blackhouse' village.
- Speyside Whisky Distilleries -The region hosts about half of all of Scotland’s whisky distilleries. From the big names like Macallan, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich to lesser known Cragganmore and Craigellachie.
A Small Selection of Historical Sites
- The Clava Cairns - 4,000 year old ancient burial site dating back to the Bronze Age.
- Ruthven Barracks - Once a major barracks for the English army sent to control the Highland Clans. Set on fire and destroyed by the Jacobite forces after Bonnie Prince Charlie’s defeat at Culloden 1746.
- Crathie Kirk - The original dates back to 14th century, the current one built in 1893 is where the Royal Family worship. Queen Victoria’s faithful gillie John Brown is buried in the church cemetery.
- Elgin Cathedral and Museum - Roman artefacts, Pictish carvings and a magnificent Cathedral ruin.
- Culloden - The sombre battlefield where the Jacobites were massacred to end the rebellion of 1746. Clan gravestones pierce the grass and the exhibition centre displays explain the battle sequence.
- The Highland Games Arena, Braemar - Home of the Highland Gathering attended each year by the Queen, a tradition that goes back to Queen Victoria. Gatherings have been held here for over 900 years.
Some Sleepy Sporran Off Grid Secrets
- The Scottish Lighthouse Museum - Fraserburgh. A somewhat different ‘enlightening’ experience.
- Knockando Woollen Mill - A unique restored woollen mill showing all the traditional processes.
- The Old Packhorse Bridge - There are actually two, one dating back to 1717 at Carrbridge, the lesser known one on the Glenlivet Estate dating back to 16th century.
- The rare native Aberdeen Angus coos at Ballindalloch Castle - One of the origins of the famous breed.
- The Pannanich Wells, Deeside - Natural health spring supposedly visited by the Knights Templar in 1245.