Castles, fine Houses and Ruins

near

Braemar

Royal Deeside, Scotland

 Braemar Castle was built in 1628

  

 

In a land with a turbulent history, where kings used to hunt, where large estates own most of the land and where Queen Victoria found her 'dear Paradise', Braemar and Royal Deeside offer a fine selection of grand buildings, both old and relatively new. Some are open to the public, others are visible to passers-by and most would have interesting tales to tell if they could speak. Here we mention some of the buildings to be found within 50 miles or so of Braemar.

 

Within 5 miles of Braemar

The valley of the River Dee runs west-east ; the valley of the River Clunie runs south-north. Both valleys were much used by people travelling through the central mountains of old Scotland. The valleys meet at Braemar so those who held that junction could control traffic and trade travelling in any direction. Thus it is not surprising that King Malcolm Canmore camped at here before going on to defeat the usurper King Macbeth. Later he built Kindrochit Castle both to control the area and as a base when hunting. The ruins of Kindrochit Castle are still visible in the centre of Braemar adjacent to the River Clunie. The area was part of the land of the Earls of Mar and in 1628 the built a new Mar Castle about a mile to the north. This is now known as Braemar Castle. Burnt by the 'Black Colonel' Farquharson of Inverey and later rebuilt, it is today little changed. By choosing successful alliances the Farquharson lairds came to own the land to the east of the Clunie River and hence gained ownership of Braemar Castle. The seat of the Farquharsons, however, is at the fine Invercauld House about 3 miles east of Braemar. On the west side of the River Clunie the Mar Estate survived intact until recently and the great house on the estate was named Mar Lodge about 4 miles west of Braemar. The estate was divided into Mar Estate and Mar Lodge Estate. Recently Mar Lodge and the attached Estate was bought by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).

 

 

Going East....

Braemar to Ballater

About 8 miles east of Braemar at the small village of Crathie, royal Balmoral Castle stands alongside the River Dee. Built in the 1850s for Queen Victoria it has remained the favourite Autumn holiday home of the Royal Family ever since. It is open to the public from mid-April until the end of July when it is closed in order to prepare for the arrival of the Queen. During this time many people take the opportunity to go pony trekking in the castle grounds. In recent years it has been the site of the Great Caledonia running race.

A short distance further along the river Dee stands Abergeldie Castle. Though not owned by the Royal family this has often been used by them. Closer to Ballater on the edge of Glen Muick is Birkhall House, regularly used by the Queen Mother when on holiday in Royal Deeside. Those who enjoy can find at Glas -alt -shiel near the far end of Loch Muick the 'cottage ' used by Queen Victoria as a 'hide-away '.

Not far from Birkhall House on the South Deeside Road is the ruin of Knock Castle. This is a castle with a tragic and violent tale to tell.

 

Ballater to Stonehaven

About 8 miles north of the Aboyne - Banchory Road lies Craigievar Castle. This is a castle that could appear in any fairy tale. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) it is open to the public in the afternoons only. Three miles east of Banchory is the popular Crathes Castle also run by the NTS. One of the most popular visitor attractions in Aberdeenshire both castle and grounds are a delight. Yet another castle run by the NTS is Drum Castle. Just a few miles east of Crathes this castle features a 13th Century keep.

Surely the finest ruin to be found anywhere in Britain, Dunottar Castle stands on an isolated rock overlooking the sea just south of Stonehaven. The castle was used in Zefferelli's film of Hamlet. Star Mel Gibson was clearly impressed by what he saw for he later played Scots hero William Wallace in the film Braveheart

 

 

South and West of Braemar

South-east of Braemar near Kirriemuir in Angus is the grand Glamis Castle birthplace of the Queen Mother. Scone, just north of Perth, is closely associated with Scottish kings and Scone Palace is a fine mansion with superb collections of china and porcelain. Blair Castle is located at Blair Athol, just north of Pitlochry. This fine castle is the seat of the Duke of Athol who retains the right to have his own 'private army' (comprised of estate workers). Blair Castle is closer to Braemar than the distance by road would suggest but the mountains between the two places are passable only on foot.)

North of Braemar

Near the road between Braemar and Tomintoul lies Corgarff Castle. Built very much for military use and playing prominent role in both the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745 it is now mangaed by Historic Scotland (HS). Not far to the north-east, on the road to Huntly, is the ruin of Kildrummy Castle, also managed by Historic Scotland. Formerly a stronghold of the Earls of Mar it has been described as the noblest of Northern castles. Ballindalloch House is a fine castle close to Tomintoul and the Glenlivet distillery.

The Castle Trail

This is the name for a trail linking some 10 castles to the north-east of Braemar. Three of these (Craigievar, Kildrummy and Corgarff) have been mentioned above

 

   

More Information On....

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 Braemar surrounds and environment

 Braemar Attractions

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 Braemar Gathering and Highland Games

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  Pages on Braemar : Nearby Attractions

Braemar Attractions

Sights near Braemar

Castles near Braemar

A malt whisky trail

Church of St Margaret

Morrone Birchwood

 

 

Pages constructed by Mike Franklin, 15 October 2002

 Photographs by Sandra Geddes, Mike Franklin, Steve Heyes and others.

Original content ©1997-2002

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e-mail mike@lochnagar.org