It’s my day off from my duties at Kincardine Castle so I’m off to some of the neighboring villages. My fellow volunteer, Elizabeth from Canada, and I took the winding country road west to Ballater, then on to Balmoral Castle.
Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852.
In the autumn of 1842, two and a half years after her marriage to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria paid her first visit to Scotland. They were so struck with the Highlands that they resolved to return.
The foundation stone for Balmoral Castle was laid by Queen Victoria on September 28, 1853 and construction was completed in 1856.
When Queen Victoria died in 1901 Balmoral Estates passed, under the terms of her will, to King Edward VII, and from him to each of his successors. Balmoral Estates has been home to successive generations of the Royal Family.
Lucky for us, the Balmoral property is open to the public until Queen Elizabeth arrives to spend August and September here. Inside the castle only the ballroom is accessible as the rest of the castle is the private home of the royal family. But the gardens, forests, farm, numerous secondary buildings, and the stables are open to all.
We visited on a Wednesday and took advantage of the free weekly ranger led hike to one of the highest points on the estate. This 2.5 hour hike gave us views of the castle, gardens, mountains, and the river. It was a beautiful day and we topped it off with a picnic lunch courtesy of our hosts at Kincardine.
Scotland is chock full of small villages and we ended the day in the Village of Braemer, tiny and charming and set along a vibrant section of the River Dee. A small world story: one of the first people I met after my arrival in Scotland was my host’s sister, Maggie. She had come to Kincardine to spend a few days with her brother. This evening, as Elizabeth and I strolled a cobbled lane in Braemer, we came upon one of the very few people we know in this whole country – Maggie! The perfect end to a lovely Scottish day.