Explore Aberdeen City and Shire, a region well-known for its natural beauty and heritage. The staggering landscapes and wildlife of the region captured the heart of a Queen and has for centuries boasted strong royal connections while playing its own part in Scotland’s vivid history - and it's all there waiting to be discovered.
Known as ‘Castle Country’, Aberdeen City and Shire has more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK with over 300 striking castles and elegant baronial homes to see and visit. Embark on the famous Castle Trail and see 17 of the most famous, including the stylish Craigievar Castle near Alford, the inspiration for Disney’s fairytale castle. Fyvie is another major highlight of the Castle Trail, once a royal fortress and noted for its grand interiors and dramatic sweeping staircase.
Newly added to the trail is Balmoral Castle, Queen Victoria’s beloved Highland retreat set in Royal Deeside. Nestled in the Cairngorms National Park, Balmoral has been a summer retreat for the royal family for over 150 years and is open to the public when Her Majesty The Queen is not in residence.
Perhaps the most haunting castle to visit is Dunnottar Castle, dramatically perched on cliff tops 160 feet above the crashing waves of the North Sea. Steeped in myths and legends, the castle is believed to be haunted by a number of ghosts and spectres, including the apparition of a girl in a green dress, a Norseman and a deer hound.
Dunnottar is also a great spot to bird watch, a haven for guillemots, puffins, peregrine falcons, seals and dolphins. The Aberdeenshire coast is blessed with abundant wildlife with dolphins being a frequent visitor to its shores. The best places to stop and try and spot them are Aberdeen Harbour or along the Banffshire Coast, Scotland’s famous Dolphin Coast. In the furthest corner of the north-east coast lies the Loch of Strathbeg RSPB Reserve. As the autumn creeps in, this small corner of Aberdeenshire witnesses the magnificent sight of the arrival of pink-footed geese, becoming home to up to 80,000 of these migrating birds who come to Scotland to roost from Iceland.
It’s not hard to see why Aberdeen City and Shire is such a hotspot for wildlife. Home to the UK’s largest national park, the Cairngorm National Park, it boasts stunning landscapes and atmospheric forests and woodlands. The ancient Calendonian pinewoods of the Glen Tanar estate near Aboyne, for instance, are conservational sites for breeding ospreys and eagles while red deer stags roam the tranquil hills and forests.
Scotland’s ancient past is vibrantly on display in the region, not only with its remaining forests but with the surviving marks of its ancient inhabitants. Climb high to the summit of the Mither Tap on Bennachie and discover the remains of a hill fort or visit the Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve and stumble on the ornate ninth century Kinord Cross Slab. You’ll even find them in the most surprising of places, like the Lang Stane which rests in the middle of Aberdeen city centre.
Visit the dedicated Brave site for more information.