The Castles of Royal Deeside, Scotland

The Castles of Royal Deeside, Scotland

The Castles of Royal Deeside

A walk on the Deeside Castle Trail is a walk through Britain’s history.  Queen Victoria slept here; Macbeth died here. While castles in many other parts of Scotland have been dwarfed by the cities that grew up around them, Deeside’s castles are set in the majestic natural splendor of the Cairngorms National Park and look as they would have appeared in the heroic age of Scotland.  

Deeside’s Castle Trail


The vacation home of the Royal Family.  Though Balmoral is closed to the public from August to October when the Royal Family are in residence at other times it offers a smorgasbord of activities that includes special exhibitions, tours of the castle and its gardens and grounds, guided walks, Land Rover safaris, salmon fishing, and training for the Running the Highlands foot race.  

Braemar Castle

Braemar Castle is built on the site of an 8th century Pictish fort.  In the 10th century, King Malcolm hosted an athletic competition that became the famous Braemar Gathering.  Braemar Castle was built as a hunting lodge in 1628. The guided tour features tales of clans, wars and ghosts.


Corgarff is a medieval tower built in the mid-16th century.  After the Battle of Culloden, it became a soldiers’ barracks and a star shaped perimeter wall was built around the tower.  Its shape allowed the garrison to get a clear shot at attackers coming from any direction.

Guests can tour the reconstructed barracks and chat with costumed re-enactors about a soldier’s life in the 1750s.


Craigievar resembles a fairy castle in a Walt Disney cartoon and is virtually unchanged since it was built in 1610.  Visitors can take a house tour and explore the grounds and waymarked trails.

Crathes Castle

Crathes Castle features 16th century ceiling paintings, lush gardens, hiking trails, craft activities and Go Ape! which enables participants to get in touch with their inner Tarzan by swinging on zip wires through the forest.

Drum Castle

Drum Castle’s 13th century square tower is believed to be one of the three oldest tower houses in Scotland.  Drum also has extensive gardens, a splendid medieval hall, an early 17th mansion house and Victorian additions.  

Scottish folk clubs still resound to the ballad that commemorates the wedding in the early 1680s of Laird Alexander Irvine of Drum, then aged 62, to pert, pretty and lowborn Margaret Coutts aged 16.


Glenbuchat is a fine example of a Z-plan tower house, built in 1590.  


The ruined castle of Kildrummy is noted for its gardens and is a good example of a 13th century castle.


Originally founded by Malcolm Canmore in 1059, the ruins of Kindrochit castle are located in the center of Braemar village in Royal Deeside.  

In the 17th century the plague struck occupants of the Castle and villagers bombarded it with cannon to bury its residents in rubble and prevent the spread of the disease.  


Knock. This ruined castle was built around 1600.  

Ten Things to do in Deeside

  1. Close to Balmoral Castle is Royal Lochnagar Distillery. Guests can tour the facility and learn about traditional whiskey making.

  2. The Victorian Heritage Trail takes you through towns, landmarks, and attractions with a special connection to Queen Victoria

  3. Held for the past 900 years in the nearby village of Braemar on the first Saturday in September The Braemar Gathering features bagpipe contests, footraces, games, and parades.  

  4. The Cairngorms National Park is Britain's newest and largest national park.  In addition to castles, the Cairngorms offer some of the most spectacular and varied scenery and wildlife in Britain.  

  5. The Royal Deeside Golf Classic is an annual competition that takes place in July and is played on four spectacular courses.

  6. Milton of Crathes Art & Craft Village is the home of the Royal Deeside Railway, a heritage railway that runs for 1 mile along the River Dee.  

  7. Deeside Activity Park offers paintball, quad biking, shooting, plus a tearoom, local produce shop and brewery.

  8. Located next to a 13th century earthwork known as the Peel of Lumphanan, Macbeth’s Stone marks the spot where the tyrant Macbeth was beheaded.  

  9. Parents of very young children will love the Soft Bear Play Centre, which features children’s games and activities.

  10. The Nine Staines, in Mulloch Wood near Banchory, is a fine example of a prehistoric Stone Circle.

Where To Stay in Royal Deeside, Scotland

Accomodation to suite almost every taste and pocketbook are available in Deeside.  Though visitors can’t stay in a castle, holiday cottages are available on the grounds of Balmoral Castle.

Elsewhere, visitors can enjoy luxury accommodations in historic country houses or find bed & breakfasts, caravanning and camping, hotels, guest houses, serviced apartments, hostels, bunkhouses and self-catering arrangements.

The Battle of Roslin

The Battle of Roslin

Robert Burns

Robert Burns