Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

July 2010: Royal Deeside

Despite being an avid globetrotter, there are still a few parts of Scotland that I have never visited. One such was the part of Aberdeenshire known as Royal Deeside, thanks to its associations with the royal family since the days of Queen Victoria. Summer 2010 provided an opportunity to sample the area's attractions for myself.

Braemar and Glenshee

The drive northwards took me through wild but picturesque Glenshee and the village of Braemar, home of the annual Gathering and therefore the first of several places visited during the weekend to have royal associations.


Until the drastic rationalisation of Britain's rail network carried out in the mid-1960s, Ballater was the nearest railhead to Balmoral and it was here that Queen Victoria used to arrive on her visits to Deeside. The old station, including the queen's waiting room, has been carefully preserved. A royal train coach and an exhibition featuring wax models help conjure up something of the atmosphere of bygone days.


Balmoral Castle as we know it today is the creation of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, who purchased the estate and built the castle as a summer retreat. It continues to be used annually for this purpose by the present monarch - controversially so in 1997, in the days following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Despite being the private property of Queen Elizabeth II, the grounds are open to the public in spring and early summer.

The Lecht

Thanks to traffic news on the radio, virtually every driver in Scotland has heard of the A939 Cockbridge - Tomintoul road. The infamous route, also known as The Lecht Road, is notorious for being invariably the first in Britain to become snowbound every winter and the last to clear the following spring.

This short break gave me the opportunity to try it out in benign summer conditions.

Base: Hilton Craigendarroch, Ballater