Balmoral Castle and Royal Deeside Tour – North East 250 – Itinerary
The Balmoral Castle and Royal Deeside Tour from Inverness only visits Balmoral during its opening period; April to July. From August to October we swap in the amazing Corgarff Castle instead. This tour opens with a drive south through Ferness and Grantown. Balmoral Castle (or Corgarff Castle) is our first stop and then along Royal Deeside to the attractive town of Braemar. We can enjoy free time here, for a wander and for lunch. A visit to Crathie Kirk is next, and your last visit of the day is your choice; Royal Lochnagar Distillery or the Whisky Castle in Tomintoul. We can stop to take photos at Carrbridge during our return.
Built in the 1500’s, Corgarff served first as a laird’s tower house, and then in the 1700’s it became a British army (or redcoat) barracks. The castle is particularly impressive as a result of its commanding position high on a hill in the Cairngorm National Park. It is particularly scenic in August because all of the heather on the surrounding hills turns purple. The open sweeping vistas here are a perfect counter to the well wooded lands of Royal Deeside ahead.
The Royal Family use Balmoral Castle as their Scottish summer residence. The old castle proved too small so Queen Victoria and Prince Albert built the current castle in 1856. We can visit Balmoral between April and July, after which it closes, as a result of the Queen’s arrival, in August. A visit to Balmoral gives access to the gift shop and cafe; the beautiful and extensive grounds and the ballroom.
Braemar is an attractive and thriving community in upper Deeside. Our guests enjoy free time for a wander; a lunch and time for photos of the Clunie Water, cascading through the heart of the village.. There are lots of independent and boutique shops, and a good range of eating places. As a result of the Queen’s regular attendance, the Braemar Gathering (on the first Saturday in September) has become one of the most famous highland games in the world.
Crathie has been a place of worship since the 9th century. Once Victoria and Albert bought Balmoral they worshiped here whenever in residence. So it was Victoria who laid the foundation stone of this new, larger and more beautiful church in 1893. Completed in 1895, Crathie is a triumph of Gothic revival style and is built of local granite with a Scots Pine roof.
Royal Lochnagar Distillery
Lochnagar is the name of a nearby mountain. Indeed, in a poem by Lord Byron, he calls it dark Lochnagar. the mountain gives the distillery its name. Queen Victoria visited Lochnagar distillery in 1848, and is so impressed that she gives it the Royal Warrant. As a result it is one of only two distilleries allowed to use the word “Royal” in its name. The current distillery buildings date from 1906, and offer regular tours for visitors.
Whisky Castle, Tomintoul
The Whisky Castle is a great stop on the homeward journey to Inverness. Quite apart from being a well located comfort stop it also has a well-stocked gift shop and a coffee shop. The other end of the operation is one of the best stocked whisky shops we have seen. If you are interested in discussing whisky then this is a great place because they will give you a tasting, while you do so.
Carrbridge is a lovely old village on the River Dulnain, a name which means “Storm Stream”. We can still see that this river is prone to autumn and winter floods. This used to result in frequent delays to burials at the Church of Duthil. So the locals built a bridge in 1717 to solve that problem, and the spectacular remains of that bridge still stand today. That means it is the oldest stone bridge still standing in the Highlands at this time.
Balmoral Castle and Royal Deeside Tour – Price
£450 for up to seven passengers.
Balmoral Castle and Royal Deeside Tour – Departure
The tour departs from your Inverness accommodation, or any transport hub you prefer, like bus station, train station or airport. You tell us, and we’ll be there.