As you drive the A93 along the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, you might stop to look across the river and see this small, unassuming view:
You’ve found Balmoral, royal vacation home and fairy tale castle.
Oh, look, the Queen’s chicken coop! This one looks far more functional than the two-thousand-dollar coops sold at the Prince of Wales’ garden shop at Highgrove.
Another fairy-tale view. Queen Victoria bought Balmoral and rebuilt and expanded it according to her own fantasy of a family getaway. The audio guide and book both do a good job of describing the eccentricities of Queen Victoria — the story of John Brown is well covered here, of course — and we felt familiar with her particular brand of crazy after a day spent at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight a couple of years ago. Sorry, is it rude to call Queen Victoria a bit crazy? Because … yeah.
Or Crathie Kirk …
Or even a distillery. Royal Lochnagar is a two minutes drive or 10 minute’s walk from Balmoral, and a wonderful place to wind up your day with an informative tour and a leisurely break with a sample dram or two.