Saturday morning Meagan & I got up early to catch the first bus out of Aberdeen for our backpacking day. We road out to Balmoral Castle, which is the royal family's summer vacation home. The castle was first bought by Queen Victoria and has been used by the royal family ever since. During the late spring & early summer the grounds are open to the public. The public is only allowed into one room inside the castle which is the ballroom. For a ballroom, it seemed pretty small but they did show a video of a party/ball held in the same ballroom a few years before and it looked like it was big enough for traditional Scottish dancing. The gardens at Balmoral are huge, and grow quite a bit of food used in the kitchens. The castle employees a large number of people from the near by town. Interesting fact, the grounds include one of the last natural pine forest in the UK.
After we were done touring the grounds at Balmoral, we caught the bus & headed out to the town of Banchory. A cute little town in the Royal Deeside area of Scotland. From Banchory we hiked out to the bridge of Feugh to look at the falls and we found a cute little tea house to have lunch at. Lunch was not my favorite, but we did stay for tea & scones which were served with strawberry champagne jam that was just delicious.
We continued on our trip to Crathes Castle. Which is this wonderful old castle that the family actually still lived in up until the 1960's when their was a fire that destroyed the modern part of the castle. Luckily the original castle was left unharmed. The land that the castle is on was given as a gift by King Robert the Bruce to the Burnett family, the castle was built over several decades, being delayed due political problems during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots.
The castle is fairly nice, but the gardens are the amazing part. They were beautiful, you could really spend all day on the grounds, there was several hiking trails and camping areas. Unfortunately we only had a few hours before we had to get back to Aberdeen, but this is one place I would love to return to.
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