BALLATER & BALMORAL
Resort catering predominantly for skiing, though there are facilities for golf, squash, riding, curling, and water sports. Cinema, ice rink, saunas, artificial ski slope, go-carts and discos. Also a good summer base for touring in the Spey Valley.
A small resort town in the Royal Deeside parish of Glenmuick, Tullich and Glengairn, W Aberdeenshire, situated on the River Dee 43 miles (69 km) west of Aberdeen. Ballater developed as a spa resort, first in the 1770s to accommodate visitors to the Pananich Mineral Wells and later after the arrival of the railway in 1866 (closed 1966).
Largely built of reddish granite, its houses are laid out in a regular pattern around a central church green. The town lies amidst dramatic mountain and forest scenery at an altitude of 213m (700 feet) above sea-level and is today a centre for wayfaring and orienteering with tourist and sporting facilities that include an 18-hole golf course. The Pass of Ballater to the north of the town is an ice-worn ravine linking Milton of Tullich in the east to Bridge of Gairn.
Scottish Baronial summer home of Royal Family, rebuilt by Prince Albert from earlier castle in 1859. The 70ft ballroom houses changing exhibits from royal collection. Gardens have rare conifers, Queen Victoria's garden cottage and Queen Mary's sunken garden. Opposite bridge leading to castle's main gate is Crathie Church, built 1895, place of worship for the Royal Family.
Boat of Garten
Museum at Boat of Garten station is former waiting room, and has signs, signals and other memorabilia on display. Village name comes from ferry which once crossed River Spey where bridge now stands.
Village, set among heather-covered hills and where the Clunie Water joins River Dee, famous for Highland Games. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island in cottage here.
Built 1628 and largely rebuilt as residence in 18th century, castle has barrel-vaulted ceilings, underground prison, star-shaped curtain wall and central tower with spiral staircase. Interiors fully furnished and containing items of historical interest, including a 52lb cairngorm -- a semi-precious stone found in the Cairngorm Mountains.
Chair lifts lead to observation point, short distance from top of Cairn Gorm -- mountain from which range gets its name. Paths along range take energetic walkers through moss, campions and creeping rhododendrons. Golden eagles, capercaillies, deer, ptarmi-gan and wildcats. Awe-inspiring Ben Macdui is highest mountain in range, rising 4294ft.
Cairngorm Whisky Centre
Whisky-making presentation, the tasting room offering more than 100 brands.
Landmark Visitor Centre, popular attraction of this apres-ski resort, has audio show of Highland history. Landmark Highland Heritage and Adventure Park has treetop trail, nature trail and sculpture trail with works by Anthony Caro and Eduardo Paolozzi; also steam-powered saw-mill. Early 18th-century bridge spans River Dulnain.
Sports complex and hotel attract visitors to this convenient stop-over between Aviemore and Cairngorm chair lifts.
A 14th-century tower house, remodelled as fortified military barracks with star-shaped wall in 1748. Restored interior of 200 years ago has musket recesses, wide wooden bunks and large stone fireplaces.
Nature reserve to north-west of Aviemore is mainly birch forest on lower slopes. Plants and wildlife include rowans, wych elms, bog myrtles, red grouse, spotted fly-catchers. Among rare moths is Kentish Glory (flies March-May). Breeding peregrine falcons nest on imposing granite cliff above Aviemore; kestrels and jackdaws also favour cliffs for nesting.
Loch lies at foot of glacial hollow. Reached by good hike from Glen-more Forest Park along tracks once used by cattle thieves.
Guided tours of distillery include free dram. Exhibits of ancient tools and artefacts used in making whisky, and video programme.
Working Highland estate seen from guided tours in Land Rover, focusing on history, landscape, wildlife and land use.
Glenmore Forest Park
Walking routes lead through pine, spruce and Douglas fir, but one-fifth of park is mountainside above tree line. Wildlife includes roe deer, red squirrels, wildcats, foxes, badgers, golden eagles, whooper swans, ducks, grouse, woodpeckers and Britain's only herd of reindeer.
Glenmuick and Lochnagar Wildlife Reserve
Walks and trails -- some easy, others needing proper equipment -- lead through azaleas, red campions, and cranberry and bilberry bushes. Wildlife includes red deer, mountain hares and adders.
Ascends Cairnwell mountain from summit of Britain's highest main-road pass, 3,061ft.
Popular ski resort, also famous for trout and salmon fishing in Spey and Dulnain rivers. Old Spey bridge built in 1750.
Grassy embankments, walls of 11th-century fort. Picnic site.
Loch an Eilein
Remains of 15th-century castle on island in loch surrounded by deep pine and juniper forests. Wildlife includes roe deer, red squirrels, wildcats, whooper swans, herons and crossbills. Remains of stone dam at Milton Burn and site of 18th-century mill, where pine trunks were hollowed out to make water pipes -- reminders of time when area had flourishing timber industry. Visitor centre in cottage by loch has small exhibition with displays on the management and conservation of forest.
Hide and closed-circuit TV allow viewings of pair of nesting ospreys, for a long time extinct in Scotland. Reserve, much of which is Caledonian pine forest, home to roe deer, red deer, wildcats, red squirrels and crossbills.
Shell of 14th-century castle, stronghold of Alexander Stewart, 'Wolf of Badenoch', who terrorised Moray lowlands, stands on island in middle of loch. Area has rolling heather landscape with peat stacks and boggy grassland.
Inland loch at foot of Cairn Gorm, surrounded by pine, birch, alder, willow and rowan trees. Lies mainly within Glenmore Forest Park. Waymarked walks lead along the shoreline. Wildfowl hides. Osprey sometimes fish here. From Loch Morlich, the River Luineag rushes through banks of tall pines to Spey Valley.
Many walks up this hill; lower slopes clothed with gnarled birch trees. One walk leads to view indicator which identifies view to Cairngorms taking in three of Britain's highest peaks -- Ben Macdui, Braeriach and Cairn Toul, all over 4000ft. Tomintoul farm nearby reckoned to be highest in Britain.
Village, hub of timber trade during 18th century, has Victorian hotel, remains of Norman castle, old stone cottages and bridge built in 1809. Now centre for skiing, fishing, walking and climbing.
Variety of walks, some ranger guided, lead through farmland, woods, forestry plantations, lochs and heath-clad hills that lie within boundaries of this estate. Two-hour tractor and trailer ride to see red deer, Highland cattle and other animals. Bird watching with experienced ornithologist.
Royal Lochnagar Distillery
Distillery granted royal warrant by Queen Victoria in 1848. It is set amid beautiful scenery, close to Balmoral Castle.
Speyside Garden Heather Centre
Heather Heritage Centre has exhibition on the historical uses of heather, including thatching, wool dyeing and medicine. Impressive ornamental landscaped gardens display more than 300 heather varieties.
Steam trains travel along line between Aviemore and Boat of Garten, allowing views of woods and cultivated fields in Spey valley. The railway's locomotives and carriages date from Victorian and Edwardian times.
Visitor centre is in converted old carding mill. Picnic area, walks along River Livet.
Tomintoul Museum has displays on local history, including reconstructed farm kitchen and smithy, wildlife and environment. Picturesque village of limestone houses, built 1776, is highest in Highlands, at 1,160ft. Now centre for skiing, shooting and fishing.
Well of Lecht
Carved stone monument to General George Wade and team of soldier-builders who opened up Highlands with military roads, intended to pacify the local population. Good views of the surrounding area. Picnic spot.