Balmoral Castle to Aberdeen
The Castles of old Grampian
Balmoral Castle to Aberdeen
Follow the route - Balmoral Castle to Aberdeen
> From Balmoral Castle turn left on the A93, right on the B976, left on the A939, right on the A944, then straight on along the A97 to Kildrummy Castle.
Visiting Kildrummy Castle
Built in the 13th century, this was the first great stone fortress in the north of Scotland. Even in decay it remains an impressive place. Modern Kildrummy Castle, once a mansion house, is now a hotel. The quarry from which it was built was transformed in Victorian times into a Japanese-style rock- and water-garden with woodlands, pools, waterfalls, shrubs and flower beds linked by paths and stairways in a narrow ravine.
Things to do near Kildrummy Castle
> Continue on the A97, then right on the A944 to Alford.
If it runs on wheels, Alford welcomes it. The Grampian Transport Museum houses a fine collection of cars, commercial and farm vehicles, models and transport memorabilia. Look for the Craigievar Express, a steam wagon built in the 1890s by a local postman; and a Sentinel steam lorry from a distillery, whose wares it advertises as most suitable for medicinal purposes.
Outside, the museum operates a little motor-racing circuit where sprints for modern and vintage cars are held. Close by, the old station has been restored as a railway museum.
Places to stay near Alford
> Return from Alford along the A944, left on to the A980, then right to Craigievar Castle.
Visiting Craigievar Castle
Although they were not building for fairy-tales, the Bell family of master masons combined a firm grasp of technique with a glorious lightness of touch. With its profusion of towers and turrets, Craigievar demonstrates this very clearly. Built for ‘Danzig Willie’ Forbes, who made his fortune in the Baltic trade, it was completed in 1626. Craigievar’s five floors of rooms include such features as a grand heraldic fireplace carved from granite, pine and oak panelling, intricate plaster ceilings and the first of the Craigievar gaming tables which had a vogue among 18th-century card players.
Places to stay near Craigievar Castle
> Continue on the A980 and go straight on along the B977 and the B9125, then immediately after Flora’s Shop, turn right, following the ‘Hopeton’ sign. Turn right at a crossroads, avoiding a farm road straight ahead, then follow signs to Drum Castle.
Visiting Drum Castle
The Irvine family have been lairds at Drum Castle for 24 generations before giving the property to the National Trust for Scotland. They lived in a complex of linked buildings: a 13th-century keep, a Jacobean mansion and Victorian additions. Drum is well furnished with valuable pieces from different centuries. Among the portraits is one of Washington Irving, author of the classic Rip van Winkle, whose family left Scotland to live in America.
Things to do near Drum Castle
> Rejoin the public road, then turn left on to the A93 to return to Aberdeen.
It’s easy to see why Aberdeen is nicknamed the Silver City. In contrast to Glasgow’s signature red sandstone and the creamy Craigleith stone that’s characteristic of much of Edinburgh’s architecture, Aberdeen’s iconic buildings are built of hard-edged grey granite that’s flecked with mica and gleams in sunshine. And yes, the sun does actually shine on Aberdeen. Scotland’s third city was once a popular seaside resort, and the long sweep of golden sand that stretches between the mouths of the River Dee in the south and the River Don, on the northern edge of the city, are still popular places to paddle, walk the dog, surf and windsurf. Admittedly, wearing a wetsuit lets you stay in the water longer – summer air temperatures can sometimes hit 25˚C, but the North Sea isn’t one of the world’s warmest stretches of water.