30 Jul 2020

Why Royal Deeside is the crowning glory

Why Royal Deeside is the crowning glory  

By Kelly McAlpine  

Royal Deeside - it’s a setting fit for a Queen.  

Holidays at home have become the trend of 2020, but the Queen and Prince Philip have long known where the best place to get away from it all is.

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As the royal couple return to Balmoral in August for their annual summer retreat, there’s never been a better time to follow their lead and discover why Aberdeenshire has charmed royals since the reign of Queen Victoria.

This is the year to explore the gems of your own country in a staycation that is of sovereign standard and here’s my guide to diamond days out.

With 260 castles, stately homes and ruins dotting its landscape, Aberdeenshire boasts more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK. The route makes for the ultimate road trip. Take a self-drive tour to see some of the most unique and splendid.

Our favourite is the dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress that is Dunnottar Castle as it’s practically on our doorstep and can be seen from some of our lodges.

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Steeped in history and full of mystery, it has been attacked by Vikings, captured by William Wallace and visited by Mary Queen of Scots. The castle is open to visitors by buying a time-slotted ticket booked in advance. This will enable visitor numbers to be limited, while minimising queuing to facilitate physical distancing. Slots are available for visits up to Wednesday, 30th September.

For spellbinding beauty, castles don’t come much prettier than Craigievar.

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It’s easy to see why the pink tower, decorated with turrets and gargoyles, is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle. It's a castle which enchants children and adults – and even Queen Victoria, once upon a time – and is ideal for that Instagram-worthy holiday snap.

or history buffs, Kinneff Old Church is regarded as unsung hero of Scottish history. It was where the Scottish Crown Jewels were hidden from Oliver Cromwell's invading army in the 17th Century and saved for the nation after they were smuggled out of besieged Dunnottar Castle in a fisherwoman’s basket.

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Set on the banks of the River Dee, Ballater is the closest village to Balmoral. Browse around and you will find many of the shops display warrants awarded by the royal family to local businesses for providing services of a high standard to the castle.

Royal Warrants 

The royal family enjoy walks and picnics in the grounds of their 50,000 acre estate and you’ll find lots of great retreats to make your own across the region.

Pack an outdoor banquet and head to Aberdeen’s Victoria Park. This well-tended and popular attraction named after the Queen who began the royal family’s love affair with the region, has, at its heart, a fountain made up of 14 different types of granite from local quarries. It’s also home to a sensory garden.

Close to the grounds of our lodges, you’ll find great walks of differing abilities that explore woodlands, the harbour and Stonehaven itself. You can view them here