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Stretching from the Cairngorm and Grampian Mountains in the west to the coast at Aberdeen, the valley of Deeside gained the ‘Royal’ prefix due to its long association with the Royal Family: Balmoral, the Royal Family’s summer residence, is here.

The scenic valley gives access to the Cairngorms National Park, popular for hikes into the mountains, and the Grampian mountain range, which attracts skiers in the winter months. Towards the eastern end of the valley, the land flattens out and makes for gentler walking and enjoyable cycling. Inviting villages are found along the length of the valley.

Deeside is also strewn with castles. In the east you will find impressive sixteenth century Crathes Castles, set in expansive grounds, and pretty thirteenth century Drum Castle, whose architecture and interiors combine styles from across the ages. To the west, past Balmoral, the pretty village of Braemar is home to seventeenth century Braemar Castle. Yet more castles and ruins can be found in the surrounding countryside, particularly in the valley of the River Don.

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  • Take a look at our Introduction to Scotland itinerary