Royal Deeside scenery has a characteristic Scottish blend of moody mountains, lofty crags, tumbling rivers, moors and forests. Balmoral Castle, the summer home of the Royal Family, is one of the many attractions, together with villages such as Ballater and Braemar through to Aboyne and Banchory. Come and visit the many highland gatherings in the area or enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, skiing, biking, fishing and wildlife watching.
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There is a number of put and take fisheries in the area. Contact numbers for these can be obtained by phoning the river manager, Pam Vickers, on 01339 880411.
Other activities available include off-road rough terrain driving, pony trekking at Glen Tanar and clay pigeon shooting at Lumphanan.
For those of a more energetic disposition the hills and mountains can be extensively walked over.
There is a variety of splendid castles to visit, fine art museums, a maritime museum in Aberdeen and towns along the Dee Valley. These offer excellent shopping, restaurants, garden centres and scenic sights.
- a fairytale castle built in 1628 by the Earl of Mar as a hunting lodge and fortress. Occupied after the Battle of Culloden by government troops, it was later transformed by the Chiefs of Clan Farquharson into a home of unusual charm. The fully furnished castle is now run by the community of Braemar and is open to the public at weekends from 11.00am to 4.00pm from Easter until the end of October or for groups by special arrangement.
Activities for children
Wherever you are in Deeside there are lots of things to do that children of all ages will love - and good fun for adults too! Picnics, walks, bike rides on quiet roads, paddling or swimming, forests and castles, to name but a few! Here is a selection of some of the many places you can go.
Cambus O'May Forest
- a great place to spot wildlife amongst the trees. Look out for red squirrels, crossbills and woodpeckers, and of course don't forget the mini beasts - ant's nests are hard to spot but once you've found one you'll see them everywhere!
- a brilliant place for exploring hidden caves. There's an easy scramble at the end of a short walk through a beautiful gorge, which leads into the hidden 'Vat'. Good for splashing and getting your wellies wet! The Visitor Centre is just right for kids too, with lots of hand-on activities.
Ballater & Braemar cycle routes
- a great way to explore the area at a leisurely pace and to keep children interested. There is a number of specially designed circular cycle routes starting from Ballater and Braemar which follow quiet country roads and tracks. You can hire bikes in both these centres.
Glen Tanar - ideal for picnics on the many attractive grassy areas that lie close to the road, as well as for paddling in the river shallows. The Visitor Centre has information about the walks and cycle routes through the forest, as well as the best spots for seeing wildlife.
- a tractor trailer ride is operated throughout the day and once a day (at 1:30pm) there is a special trip to see the highland cattle.
Glen Muick, Glen Clunie - are good places to spot deer from the road, especially in the evening and during winter.
The Lecht ski area
- ride on the chairlift to the top; it's exciting and the views are great. You can also try the go-carts, quad bikes and giant tubes.
- there's an excellent playground for children of all ages on Aboyne Green. There are picnic benches and the whole area is fenced off so you wont have to worry about dogs or escaping children. A bit further afield at Crathes Castle near Banchory, the National Trust for Scotland have an excellent facility in the woods, with an assault course for over eights and a smaller, less daunting area with a sandpit and slide for younger children. There are also playgrounds in Ballater, Braemar and Banchory and a small amusement arcade in Banchory.
- several Deeside destinations have a Ranger Service who organise events throughout the year for children and adults. These include guided walks, fungal forays and environmental art days. You can find out more from the ranger services, or ask at the local Tourist Information Centre.