With Balmoral Castle in close
attendance, high-flying Braemar sits eagle-like at
a height of 1,100ft in the Cairngorm Mountains,
attracting thousands of visitors each year.
It is world-famous for its September Highland Games, which are frequently attended by the Queen. The colourful event dates to the 11th century when Malcolm 111 set up contests to find his strongest warriors.
Set among heathery scenery, the village is overlooked by Cairn Toul, at 4,000ft, while the fortress of Braemar Castle acts as a reminder of violent times. It was built by the 2nd Earl of Mar in 1628 but was effectively destroyed by a Jacobite army some 60 years later. Repaired in 1748, it has a round tower, a huge iron gateway and a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The Invercauld Arms stands on a mound where the 6th Earl of Mar raised the Jacobite standard in 1615.
Nearby, the grey-granite
Balmoral Castle started life as a 15th century
tower house. It was bought by Queen Victoria and
Prince Albert in the mid-19th century and
transformed into a royal residence in the Scottish
Crathie Church, where the Royal Family still worship, stands on a knoll and was built of granite in 1895. The summit of Lochnagar towers above Balmoral while, below, the Royal Lochnagar Distillery is an ever-popular crowd-puller. Its unique malt was Queen Victoria’s personal favourite.