Royal Deeside
The River Dee
Royal Deeside is the name given to the valley of the River Dee from its birth on the slopes of the Cairngorm Mountains to the North Sea at Aberdeen. On its journey, the river flows through some of the most beautiful countrysides in Scotland (and that's saying something!).

There are four major towns and villages in Royal Deeside. From west to east these are Braemar, Ballater, Aboyne, and Banchory. The 'royal' comes from the royal residence of Balmoral Castle, located between Braemar and Ballater, on the south side of the river opposite Crathie.

The west end of Royal Deeside lies within the Cairngorms National Park, and walking trails lead deeper into the park across the Mar Estate, once owned by the powerful Earls of Mar and now run by the National Trust for Scotland. At the western end of Royal Deeside is the Lin O'Dee, a famous beauty spot much favoured by Queen Victoria. The Linn is a favourite place to watch the annual salmon run (another good spot is the Bridge of Feugh).

There are several historic castles located in Deeside. At Braemar, the crumbling ruins of Kindrochit Castle date back to the 11th century. At the east end of Braemar stands the 16th-century tower house of Braemar Castle. Braemar itself is famous as the site of the annual Highland Gathering, the most prestigious of Scotland's Highland Games, which can trace their origins back to a festival given by Malcolm Canmore following his victory over Macbeth here in the 11th century.

The 16th-century tower house of Crathes Castle at Banchory features world-famous gardens, and only a few miles away is the 13th-century fortress of Drum Castle, one of the oldest tower houses in the country. Just outside Royal Deeside are Craigievar Castle, Corgarff Castle, and Dunnottar Castle.

Ancient sites abound, particularly near Dinnet, which gives its name to the Dinnet National Nature Reserve. Among the ancient sites worth a mention are Tomnaverie Stone Circle, Kinord Cross, Old Kinord Ancient Village, and the Tullich Symbol Stone.

There are three other nature reserves in Royal Deeside, including the Mar Lodge Estate (best reached by way of the minor road from Braemar to Linn O'Dee), Morrone Birkwood (on the hillside above Braemar), and Loch Muick and Lochnagar, 10 miles south of Ballater within the royal Balmoral estate.

Royal Deeside offers a wonderful opportunity for visitors to enjoy some of the most scenic and historic places in Scotland.