Thursday the 10th of May was another beautiful sunny day. Having stopped to view Dunnottar Castle the evening before, I really didn’t get a good enough “castle fix” and still had a big hankering to visit another castle and some gardens. We jumped in the car and headed west into the Cairngorms to visit the Her Majesty’s summer cottage – Balmoral Castle!
Of course, Queen Elizabeth isn’t there yet, which is a good thing; otherwise, we wouldn’t be allowed in! We also had two free tickets to visit the Royal Lochnagar Distillery just down the road from the castle so we decided to include that as well. This was going to be a great day!
Once we got parked, got our tickets and a map, we started walking toward the castle along the river, stopping off at the castle tea room for a latte beforehand and soaked up a little sunshine as well.
Such a beautiful walk through the woodlands and along the river. I could sit in this spot for awhile and wouldn’t be surprised if the Queen often sits here herself. Prince Albert planted a lot of trees on the estate and its a delight walking through them and under their graceful branches.
In no time at all, we were approaching the castle. Such a grand castle it is!
We walked along, admiring it as we headed toward the gardens…
The path in the foreground of the picture above, goes along a huge lawn area, past Queen Anne’s Cottage, the ponds, and eventually leads to the garden beyond so we just moseyed along enjoying the sights along the way. I couldn’t resist getting several pictures of the castle as we strolled in the wonderful spring sunshine amongst the daffodils and narcissus blossoms…
Soon we arrived at Queen Anne’s cottage and we walked through the wood to the ponds behind it first. In the summer, so many reeds, flowers, ferns, and other plants grow in and around the pond obscuring the views but today we got some great views of the water with excellent reflections and the surrounding terrain.
Then we turned back toward the cottage behind us. I took some pictures of the interior of a couple of rooms for you through the windows too. The rooms are all decorated as they were in days past and they are lovely to look at.
First is a parlor…
another; a bedroom off the hall at the other end of the cottage…
Next comes the garden at the other end of this trellis which is covered in a lovely vine (honeysuckle I believe) during the summer.
As you enter the garden, large herbaceous borders flank the pathway on the right…
and a splendid view of the castle appears dead center behind a fountain on the left!
I love these little plants that live amongst the rocks on the wall…
The next feature is the conservatory with all the beautiful flowers inside and the busy bumblebees assisting with pollination…
We stopped for rest at a garden bench to enjoy the view of the area of the garden that the cut flower varieties are grown in. Imagine this place with all kinds of dahlias, sweet peas, lupines and the like. It’s absolutely gorgeous later in the season; for now, the gardeners are just getting it ready and the perennials are just getting started. Soon they will be 3-4 foot tall and will be bursting with blooms to grace the halls of the castle for the Queen.
They have a new volunteer gardener to lend them a helping hand…
Continuing on, we pass the herb beds and discover some fennel emerging… followed by some sweet peas (or perhaps some broad beans?) on the other side.
The new greenhouse is chock full of plants to plant out. The gardeners certainly have their work cut out for them.
The next area is for the vegetables and fruits which will also supply the kitchens for the Queen’s meals.
Next, we arrive at the cold frames and they are just bursting to the brim with so many plants that will end up out in the garden, in hanging flower baskets and in the flower beds. Wish I had a set up like this at home!
More greenhouse filled with plants!
On the way out of the garden, we pass this lovely area on the other side of the new greenhouse which will be filled with a stunning display of colorful flowers in the summer and the gardener’s dog keeping a watch out!
On the right, we encounter the chicken coop and the girls come running out to greet us!
Back toward the castle once again…
Thought I’d try a black & white photo; makes it look like days long ago!
This is the only part of the castle you get to visit inside.
The Ballroom Exhibition is the building on the lower left with the four big windows; one last look before we go.
Back through the woodland with its yellow dogtooth violets and out the front gate!
We will drive through the gates and travel straight down the road a mile or so to our next destination, Lochnagar Distillery!
In the neighboring pastures were a bunch of ewes with their baby lambs. Couldn’t resist getting a short video of them to share…
Once inside the reception area, where the tours begin, the shelves along the walls were filled to the brim with lots of gift and souvenir ideas and a fine selection of some very good (and expensive) Scottish Whisky…
Although they did not allow photography throughout the guided tour (and it was an excellent tour I might add – well worth the admission!) they did offer a nice area of photographs and interpretive panels about the distillery which I took pictures of for you.
I’ll let them speak for themselves:
At the end of the tour, our wonderfully informative guide, Ken, provided two samples of their fine whiskey in the tasting room. Definitely an excellent dram!
We began our drive back to Aberdeen following the Dee River on the south side where there is less traffic passing an interesting bridge to someones’ home.
We stopped for a butt break at the Deeside Gliding Club in a handy parking area along the way.
As luck would have it, there right in front of us was a lead plane pulling a glider and getting ready to take off! We couldn’t have timed it better if we planned for it! I had just enough time to turn on my phone after we got out of the car to stretch our legs to catch this next video for you!
Figuring the glider would be out for awhile cruising around, we were getting ready to get back in the car when we noticed the planes coming back again. Must be a practice session of taking off and landing! Here comes the lead plane…followed by the glider right behind him!
Also at the rest area was a map of the area listing all the attractions along the North Deeside Road heading west to the Royal Deeside.
So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed your tour of Balmoral Castle and its gorgeous grounds, as well as the distillery.
Attitude of Gratitude – I am grateful for sunshine and beautiful gardens to visit, and for being able to get a “castle fix” as I wish!