One of the main reasons we chose the Deeside village of Ballater to use as our base in the Scottish Highlands was its close proximity to Balmoral Castle. I had seen photos of the royal residence on many occasions, and decided it was time we paid it a visit. The Royal Family uses this idyllic spot as their summer retreat, so there are only certain times of year you can visit. We lucked out.
Winding down the road alongside the River Dee, all of a sudden we saw the small carpark area and a modest sign tucked under the trees announcing it’s presence.
We parked, paid our pay and display and as instructed walked over a bridge above the river and approached the gate house.
Quite an entrance. You can only tour the gardens, one ballroom, several exhibitions set up in the stable area and then of course the usual gift shop (very tastefully done) and coffee shop. But we were happy with that and bought our tickets at the gate house and decided to walk down the road to the castle rather than wait for the tram. Less Disney, more royal.
We walked from the gatehouse to the welcome area through the scent of pine that shamed any Christmas Tree lot. The pines were planted in Queen Victoria’s time, and now were massive and varied. I have never seen anything quite like this.
As the path curved through the pines, the main building came in to view. What can this be like to come home to after a long London winter?
Because of this unseasonably warm week, the prep for the summer gardens was in full swing and it was so complex and beautifully laid out, surrounded by the magnificent hills of the Cairngorms and the Balmoral Forest.
As we wound in to the gardening area I found so many glorious images of spring that I didn’t know where to start. I thought I would just let the pictures speak for themselves.
Scotland is like going through a magic mirror into a fairytale land. It was worth every penny of the high priced petrol it took to drive here.