TRAVEL: Scotland’s A-93 to Balmoral Castle
If you are stateside and haven’t seen the news, you may not know that Scotland has recently experienced terrible flooding. It is heartbreaking. I had the privilege of calling Scotland home for two amazing years and during that time I immersed myself in all things Scottish. From the coast to the Highlands, I explored castles, whiskey distilleries, went to the Highland Games, and even attended two Burns suppers (a yearly celebration filled with traditional foods, clothing and literature of Robert Burns). The experience was life changing. Today I want to take you along one of my favorite drives up A-93 from Aberdeen to Ballater, where the Balmoral Castle is located and is still a retreat for The Queen and the Royal Family in the summer months.
The Cambus O’May footbridge built in 1905 is nothing short of breathtaking. The first picture I saw of the destruction caused by the flooding of the Dee River was of this bridge. It was always our first stop on our way out of Aberdeen. After crossing the bridge, we would hop out of the car to explore the majestic forests that stretch alongside the river.
If we were lucky, we’d get to see the legendary highland cow grazing in a pasture along the narrow, winding road. To sound like a local you will need to pronounce it “HEE-LAND COO.”
Once we reached the town of Ballater, it was like stepping back in time. The train station where Queen Victoria would arrive to take a carriage to her castle is still there and a perfect symbol of traditional royalty. The local shops, such as the butcher, baker and candlestick maker, are dotted with signs that show The Queen’s approval. This is considered the highest honor.
After grabbing a cup of tea in this adorable, Victorian-style town we’d head to the main attraction: Balmoral Castle.
On the castle grounds there is a marvelous, expansive garden that supplies all the food served to The Royal Family and the entire staff. They also have chickens, both for their eggs and to help naturally reduce insects that could be harmful to the plants. I love that they take the time to organically and naturally grow, fertilize, and harvest their food. It’s not always the fastest way but it’s the right way and we have always made sure that Nest operates under that same philosophy.
Having had a long day filled with adventures, we were pretty worn out so we decided to unwind at the quaint Darroch Learg Hotel. They have the best “caviar starters” paired with a “wee dram” (a.k.a. a small shot of scotch whiskey). And of course, a dinner that was to die for.
Although the recent floods have been damaging, I am certain once the repairs have been made that A-93 will be as beautiful and charming as ever! Safe travels!