Thursday, June 16, 2016

Royalty, rabbits, and a faithful servant

At the weekend we headed out to explore part of the area known as Royal Deeside - the countryside and towns around the River Dee. Our destination was Braemar, which hosts the Braemar gathering each year (highland games) in September and members of the royal family always attend. To get there we had to go through the Cairngorm mountains, and as you can see from the pictures below the clouds were very close to the top of the mountains. It gave it a really eerie feel as we'd left home in sunshine and drove into this.

We'd stopped by the roadside to allow other faster cars to go past when we spotted a rabbit sitting by the side of the road looking a bit stunned. My hero (Ken) went to check on the wee bunny and discovered he'd been hit by a car, with obvious damage to his face. To give him the best chance possible to survive, Ken put him in the field, under a bush and near to a rabbit burrow. When we came back a couple of hours later, we stopped to check on the patient and he was nowhere to be seen - Ken awfully suggested that a buzzard was enjoying a free meal, whilst I prefer to picture him warm in a burrow with his bunny friends providing him with the care he needed.

We stopped at a lovely cafe/gift shop in the middle of nowhere and they had this very fine looking metal stag on their verandah.

Now I know it may seem quite early in our journey to have stopped for cake, but we couldn't resist stopping for sustenance. We were sat in big squishy leather chairs looking out at the incredible view, so it was a really lovely place to spend some time.

As we drove alongside the river Dee we passed lots of buildings that we call fixer uppers - we always joke that with a little tlc they'd be perfect to move into. The example below might need elbow grease, some spit and polish, as well as tlc but we could see potential.

The roads in the highlands are very popular with motorcyclists, and we always pass or get passed by loads. The two below are not typical of the types of bikes, these are obviously tourists who like their creature comforts.

The river Dee as it passes through Braemar.

Here's a few pictures I took around the town including some very lovely cottages and gardens. It's a really picturesque spot.

Two of my favourite beings in the world, my beloved and the cutie pie that is Bramble.

Our first attempt at a selfie with our girl - I think this might be a challenge for the future, to get her into the picture seeing as she rarely stops moving.

The Braemar war memorial - such a beautiful Celtic cross in a really peaceful spot overlooking the river.

Below is the engine of the RAF Vickers Wellington bomber that crashed on a training flight from RAF Lossiemouth in 1942 at Dubh-choire. The crew consisted of 3 Brits, 2 Canadians, 2 Aussies, and 1 Kiwi - the youngest was only 19 (I think that's a song) and the oldest was 25, so basically babies. They're buried in the Old Dyce Graveyard so when we're over that way we'll go and pay our respects to my fellow countrymen.

As you leave the town you drive past Braemar castle which was built in 1628 - that's a long time ago. It is open to visitors throughout the year so that may be another day out in the future.

This a view of the Old Brig of Dee (that's Bridge for the non Scottish amongst you - I know, they speak strangely) which was built in 1748.

This is Crathie Kirk (church) near Balmoral castle - this is the church that the royals attend when they're in Scotland, especially at Christmas. The foundation stone of this church was laid by Queen Victoria in 1893.

Beautiful allium near the church, and it's my favourite colour. There are lots of plants in Scotland that produce flowers in glorious purple, including heather and the Scottish thistle.

More bunny rabbits for you - in the picture below there are at least 30 bunny rabbits, some quite near to the camera, but they are camouflaged very well in the grass.

Lovely flowers that were growing beside the lane - probably weeds but still pretty to look at.

We walked from the new kirk down to the graveyard and ruins of the old kirk. In this graveyard are many of the graves of staff that worked for Queen Victoria.

We're not sure what's going on with this grave, it looks like it's a table waiting for diners to arrive - very, very strange.

Whilst we were wandering around we came across John Brown's grave - if you don't know who he is think Billy Connolly and Judy Dench in the film of the same name. John Brown was Queen Victoria's servant who was a great support to her after the death of her cherished husband Albert. I love how on the gravestone it says 'Devoted and faithful personal attendant and beloved friend'. Imagine, where we stood, Queen Victoria my have stood over 100 years ago.

We then went on to Ballater for something to eat and ended up at the Deeside Inn. We left Bramble in the car as we weren't sure if we would be allowed to take her into the hotel, but after we'd been there for a while a couple came in with a labrador and a german shephard. When we spoke to them they said that the hotel is very dog friendly, so next time we'll know to take Bramble in with us and hopefully by then she'll have grown out of the excitable toddler phase.

The food was scrummy and yes we both had fish and chips - I may have forgotten to mention that I've made the decision to give up meat (for too many reasons to go into here) and my beloved is being as supportive as always and has joined me, but fish is definitely still on the menu.

Hope you've enjoyed this visit to Royal Deeside - somewhere that we'll definitely be returning to in the future.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and do something nice just for you this week.

Pamela & Ken


  1. Love the garden entrance to Inver Cottage, and I just drool over all the historic buildings. I like the epitaphs for Queen Victoria's staff members; they seem kind. I have seen "tabletop tombstones" but just a few times -- they are not common in my area either. Lastly, Bramble looks to be getting bigger! Thanks for letting me come along on your journey.

    1. Hi Stephanie, you're welcome any time and yes Bramble is growing rapidly. One of my favourite things in this area is the lovely old cottages so I'm sure they'll feature more in the future.