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I have been thinking of Balmoral lately, with the Royal Family in residence for their summer holiday, and Prince Philip having to retreat to the hospital in Aberdeen for a recurring health issue.

Beautiful Balmoral in the spring…a splendid castle. Photo by me

When we visited Scotland in May, we found our charming inn, the Dundee Hotel…

The Deeside Hotel in Ballater, our home while in Scotland. Photo by me

…tucked in along the road not far from Balmoral, just on the western edge of Ballater, and managed to drag our luggage up the narrow stairs to our room. Charm does not usually come with elevators in Great Britain.

Outside our room at the top of the stairs, the signs of the area…red deer and scotch. Photo by me

It was unusually warm for this part of the UK, probably close to 80 degrees, and after managing to get one window open in the room (air-conditioning doesn’t seem to be the norm in Scotland) we decided to walk in to town to enjoy the sun and get the lay of the land.

The parlor at the Deeside Hotel. photo by me

One thing I noticed walking down the main road was that there was definitely a castle theme in the architecture.

A neighborhood castle. Photo by me

Ballater is a holiday location on the “Deeside” which is what the locals call the area on the north side of the River Dee.  Most of the town closes up for winter and the season is March to November at the most, although there are a few ski resorts nearby.

We assumed that many of these homes were second homes, and obviously if you have the money to have a home in Ballater, it might as well be a castle.

Even new construction favors the castle tradition in Ballater. Photo by me.

It may be the Balmoral influence, which is only about 6 miles down the road. Or maybe they are just waiting for the Americans to invade and feel they need some extra fortification.

In the hills of Ballater on the main road. photo by me

None-the-less, it is a wonderful area, and returning to our rather warm, and bright room (the sun sets after 9:45pm in May) we decided it was definitely worth the long trip north. After all, it was one of Queen Victoria’s absolute favorite spots on earth. And no one would dream to argue with her.

The original train station used by Queen Victoria in Ballater. Photo by me