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This little silver granite town spaciously laid out by the River Dee is close to the Balmoral Castle and is the gateway to Royal Deeside.

Ballater’s story is linked to the discovery of the health-restoring properties of the waters at the nearby wells at Pannanich to the east, on the opposite bank of the Dee from today’s Ballater. By the end of the 18th century, the ‘Lourdes of Deeside’ was attracting so many visitors that the ferry at the nearby hamlet of Tullich could not cope with the numbers. A bridge was built in 1783; not at the ferry crossing but a mile upstream. The new settlement of Ballater began to take shape thereafter on a stretch of previously empty moor near this first bridge.

The building of Balmoral Castle, then the coming of the railway in 1866, assured Ballater’s prosperity. Tullich today is just a few houses and a ruined church. Ballater, however, is a thriving place, popular with visitors and day-excursionists from Aberdeen. Ballater railway station saw its last train in 1966 but has been converted into a visitor centre.

Accommodation in Ballater:

As a popular visitor destination, there is a good choice of hotel accommodation in and around Ballater. Guest house and B&B accommodation is widely available, both in traditional Victorian properties in the town, as well as some farmhouse accommodation nearby. In addition to comfortable accommodation in the centre of Ballater, self catering properties also include top-end luxury chalets as well as estate cottages nearby. There is a caravan and camping park attractively set by the River Dee.

Attractions in and around Ballater »

Ballater’s rail link is gone but the Old Royal Station tells the story of the royal connections here, especially of the days when politicians and the crowned heads of Europe passed through en route to Balmoral Castle, eight miles to the west. The Royal Lochnagar Distillery west of the town is also popular, while the Burn o’ Vat, part of the Muir of Dinnet National Nature reserve to the east, is also well worth visiting.

Activities in and around Ballater »

Ballater golf course welcomes visitors and there is a further choice of courses on Royal Deeside. There is an active angling club based in Ballater and, in addition to the River Dee, a stocked fishery and loch fishing is within easy reach. Pony trekking is available on the Balmoral estate. There are also many local walks, with Glen Muick in particular popular with walkers.

Glen Muick »

Easily accessed from Ballater, Glen Muick gives visitors a strong sense of the ambience of the eastern Grampians. It is the starting point of a number of ancient rights-of-way over the plateau of the Mounth, and the carpark where the public road ends is also a starting point for days out on Lochnagar. Another popular excursion is round Loch Muick. For all of these, good footwear is advised. Look out for red deer close to the car park. There is also a small visitor centre at the road-end.

Balmoral Castle »

The grounds of the holiday home of the royal family are open to visitors in spring and summer, as well as the Balmoral Castle Ballroom. There is usually an exhibition here, with further items of interest in the Carriage Hall Courtyard. Other castle rooms are private. There is also a program of Land Rover safaris and guided walks. There are also lots of waymarked walks through the Balmoral estate.

Events »

There are regular guided walks, folk music sessions and ceilidhs in the Ballater area. Other highlights include the Cairngorms Walking Weekend in June, Ballater Victoria Week in August, Ballater Highland Games in mid month, followed later in the same month by the Lonach Highland Gathering.

For further information: