The River Dee rises high above Braemar in the Cairngorm Mountains and runs east for some 60 miles to its mouth at Aberdeen. On its way it ripples and surges through some of Scotland's most attractive scenery. A third of the way along its journey to the sea the still youthful river flows past the foot of the magnificent peak of Lochnagar. Here its waters border the grounds of Balmoral Castle, the summer home of the Royal Family.
Balmoral was built as a holiday home and retreat by Prince Albert. From here, Queen Victoria and her family set out on their explorations of the surrounding area, and now you can retrace some of these expeditions on the route of today's Victorian Heritage Trail. The Trail takes visitors through the settlements of the area via castles, churches, distilleries and spectacular viewpoints. Look for the distinctive profile of Queen Victoria on the brown Tourist Trail signs.
Balmoral Castle and its gardens and grounds are open to visitors daily from 1st August to 31st July, and of course you are welcome to visit picturesque Crathie Kirk, a place of worship for every British monarch since 1848. Queen Victoria herself donated the two stained glass windows which commemorate author and social reformer Reverend Norman MacLeod, and she also endowed the kirk's Father Willis organ.
Queen Victoria once described Balmoral as "my dear paradise in the Highlands". Come to Royal Deeside and see why generations of our Royal Family have made it their Summer home from home.