No visit to Braemar is complete without a drive to the Linn of Dee - a dramatic 300 metre natural gorge. Further down the road, the Linn of Quoich is a picturesque spot and perfect for a picnic. The nearby Punchbowl was carved out by the action of the water and, according to local tradition, the Earl of Mar launched the 1715 Jacobite Rising by mixing punch in it for his army. South of Braemar, a drive on the Old Military Road to the Cairnwell Pass is a must. At 670 metres, this is the highest public road in Britain and, although the Devil’s Elbow is now bypassed, it’s a great place to stop and admire the view. During July and August, you can take the Cairnwell chairlift at Glenshee Ski Centre to enjoy spectacular views.
Heading north, the B976 from Crathie to Tomintoul is the main route through the eastern Cairngorms. Corgarff Castle, in the care of Historic Scotland, has been reconstructed to show how it would have looked when used by the English Redcoat soldiers.
Braemar is the southern gateway to the Cairngorm mountains. If you’re looking for low level walking, the pinewoods of Glen Derry and Luibeg are simply stunning. Over 35 Munros can be accessed from Braemar, including four of the five highest mountains in the UK.
We have compiled information on some of our favourite walks, set in a historical context, and can help you plan your route with our personalised OS map. If you want to learn explore new skills, Sue Harper from Braemar Mountain Guides is a qualified International Mountain Leader and offers bespoke guiding and instruction.
Braemar is well served for natural mountain bike trails and we can help with suggestions on routes for all abilities. For a great source of local information, including guiding, we recommend Cycle HIghlands in Ballater.
The Cairngorms National Park is home to many rare and endangered species. The Park contains one quarter of Scotland’s native forest, which sustains eighty per cent of the UK’s capercaillie population.
Red squirrels, golden eagles, pine martens, red and roe deer and mountain hares are just some of the animals living in theCairngorms. Closer to home, you’re almost guaranteed to see red squirrels in the garden at Callater Lodge enjoying breakfast at our hazelnut feeder. The Cairngorms National Park has some spectacular Caledonian pine forests. Our Scots pines are direct descendants from the first pines to arrive in Scotland following the Ice Age.
During the autumn months, the swathes of purple heather on the hillside are a delight, and the nearby Morrone Birkwood is one of the finest examples of downy birchwood and juniper in the UK.
Braemar is well served for castles. Kindrochit Castle was the first to be built in Braemar in 1067. Braemar Castle was the home of Clan Farquharson and is the only community-run castle in Scotland.
A ten minute drive from Braemar, Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the royal family since it was purchased by Queen Victoria. It is open from the beginning of April until the end of July when the Queen arrives for her summer holiday. Crathes Castle is just outside Banchory and has 240 hectares of garden and estate, as well as the Go Ape treetop adventure park. If you’ve still got the energy, the nearby Drum Castle, is home to a fine collection of historic roses.
To the east, Dunnotar Castle just outside Stonehaven, is perched on dramatic cliffs overlooking the North Sea.
Next to Balmoral Castle, Royal Lochnagar Distillery runs tours throughout the year. The first visitor to tour the distillery was Queen Victoria in 1848, and after that she always kept a medicinal bottle of whisky in her carriage.
If you’re driving from the north then you’re in luck - this is Speyside whisky country, famed throughout the world.
Now you’ve seen the casks at the distillery, you might enjoy the Speyside Cooperage in Craigellachie, where you can watch casks being repaired. If you’re coming from the south, do visit Blair Athol distillery but, if this sounds like rather a lot of whisky, Persie Distillery near Bridge of Cally will be happy to introduce you to their gins - visits by prior appointment.
People have been living and working in the Cairngorms since 8100 BC. Our Gaelic place names give a fascinating insight into the relationships between people and places in our Cairngorms. Some names were inspired by an event in history, others were influenced by the landscape. To walk in the Cairngorms and enjoy these names provides additional insight into our predecessors’ way of life.
The Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore allows visitors to experience Highland existence from the 1700s to the 1970s.
The Victorian Heritage Trail highlights some of the historic places that make Royal Deeside such a magnificent place.
Glenshee Ski Centre is a ten minute drive from Braemar and offers the UK’s most extensive skiing and snowboarding facilities. The Lecht Ski Centre is 40 minutes from Braemar and has skiing for all levels, but is particularly good for beginners and intermediates. Deeside Activity Park outside Aboyne provides quad biking, 4x4 driving, clay pigeon shooting and orienteering. Glen Tanar Estate offers pony trekking or, for something a little different, don’t rule out llama trekking near Glenshee!
The River Dee supports one of the healthiest populations of Atlantic salmon in Western Europe. Fishing begins on the upper beats in March and continues until the end of September. To find out about opportunities for fishing with a ghillie, contact the Invercauld Estates office or look at www.fishdee.co.uk.
The Braemar Gathering, held on the first Saturday of September, is regarded as the biggest event in the highland games calendar. Queen Victoria first attended the Gathering in 1848 and the royal family are still loyal supporters and attend every year.
Braemar Mountain Festival takes place in March and is organised by locals with a passion for the mountains (including us!). The varied programme includes workshops in ski and winter skills, and low level walking. Photography and art exhibitions, talks, films, ceilidhs and food are just some events based in the village.
The award winning Braemar Creative Arts Festival is held during October and showcases new and traditional craft workshops.
Braemar is home to Scotland’s highest 18-hole golf course. The scenery is magnificent and the course is considered to have some of the finest greens in the region.
Once you’ve enjoyed this relatively short but challenging course, consider Ballater Golf Club with the stunning backdrop of Lochnagar.
Continuing east, Aboyne Golf Club is 30 minutes drive from Braemar. To the south, you can play at Dalmunzie’s nine hole course surrounded by stunning scenery at the Spittal of Glenshee.