Royal Deeside : Balmoral Castle
Although Royal Deeside abounds with beauty and contains a clutch of fine castles, there can be no doubt that the centrepiece is Balmoral Castle and its estate. Built around 1854 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert the image of the castle is recognised world-wide. Though relatively modern it is clearly in the style of a 'Scottish' castle. It is a private home of the Royal family and each autumn the family spend up to two months holidaying there. The family also make shorter stays, either there or at nearby Birkhall, at other times of the year.
Each summer many thousands of visitors go to see the castle and to walk amongst the fine gardens and woods of the estate. When the Royal Family is in residence, and the castle and grounds are closed, many tourists watch as the family attend Sunday service at nearby Crathie Kirk. At the far side of the estate many people, not necessarily aware of the royal link, visit Loch Muick and climb majestic Lochnagar.
Gradually Balmoral is extending its welcome to the public. For some time it has been possible to take part in pony treks around the estate. In 2003 a new 4X4 safari was introduced allowing the public to see more of the grounds and wildlife of the estate. In spring each year Balmoral holds the road-races in which many hundreds of runners, both good and average, take part - surely the best setting in the running calendar.
For more information about Balmoral Castle and Estate see the official website
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