Set deep within the hills amid the pinewoods, Braemar is a great base for exploring the southern half of the Cairngorms National Park.
The castle of Kindrochit (Gaelic: the head of the bridge), whose ruins sit in the heart of the village of Braemar, once commanded all the glens around. Glenshee to the south, Glen Tilt and Glen Feshie to the west, and the passes of the Lairig Ghru and Lairig an Laoigh to the north.
Braemar, famous for its annual Highland Gathering, also had a gathering in 1715 when the Earl of Mar raised the standard and rallied Jacobite sympathisers for what became the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. Later, in 1852, Prince Albert bought the estate of Balmoral nearby and the association of royalty and Deeside properly began. With its royal cachet, the area attracted ever larger numbers of holiday visitors. Like Queen Victoria and her descendants, they enjoy the healthy air and dry-ish climate, the majestic scenery of mountain and river, and the varied sport and leisure activities.
Accommodation in Braemar:
Traditional hotel accommodation is available in Braemar. Guest house and B&B accommodation is also easy to find. Self catering properties are available both within the village and in rural settings nearby. Caravan and camping parks can be found to the east, further down the River Dee.
The attractions in and around Braemar are mostly of the scenic variety, though the village does have its Braemar Highland Heritage Centre, with more on the story of the village. Braemar Castle is an unmistakable landmark east of the village. The Royal Lochnagar Distillery is nine miles away, down the Dee and offers tours and tastings. Above Braemar, Morrone Birkwood is a national nature reserve with walks and trails. (Birk is Scots for birch.) Scenic features nearby also include the Colonel’s Bed, the Linn of Dee and the Linn of Quoich.
Braemar has the highest 18 hole golf course in the UK. It welcomes visitors. Anglers have a variety of hill lochs a well as rivers beyond the Dee such as the Clunie and Gairn. Pony trekking is available near Balmoral. There is a good choice of waymarked paths and tracks for mountain bikers and walkers.
This estate is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and comprises around 8% of the Cairngorms National Park. It takes in some of the most rugged wild land in Scotland and four of the five highest mountains in the UK, including 15 Munros. Visitors can get easy access to the immediate area via carparks at the Linn of Dee and the Linn of Quoich. These Linns (river narrows) are especially impressive during periods of high water. A circular scoured out hollow in the rocks by the Quoich is sometimes called the Earl of Mar’s Punchbowl, where it is said he brewed punch at the start of the 1715 uprising
The Braemar Gathering, usually attended by members of the royal family, is held annually on the first Saturday in September. The Ballater Highland Games take place in August. Mar Lodge Estate runs its own programme of events, notably ranger guided walks. Other community events – such as country dancing – take place in the village in the main season. http://www.braemarscotland.co.uk/visiting_braemar/news_events.htm