Scotland’s Quintessential Village
Braemar, a tiny village in the Grampian Highlands of Scotland, is the Scotland you expect to see—rivers rushing over ancient rocks, hills of heather, a turreted castle, mountains reflecting purple in the distance. The beauty of the Scottish countryside surrounds Braemar and there is much to revel in.
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The lovely stone village at the junction of the rivers Clunie and Dee is a wonderful place to relax or, for the more ambitious, to tackle hill trails abounding in the area--within a short distance of Braemar there are twenty hills with peaks over 3000 feet.
But Braemar is probably best known for its annual Braemar Gathering, the Highland Games at their best. The Braemar Games were established in 1832 and received royal approval from Queen Victoria in 1848. The royal family continues to attend every year—Queen Elizabeth is the patron of the games.
On the first Saturday in September massed pipes and drum bands cry out with centuries old music, presenting a spectacle for eye and ear. Pipe and drum competitions, highland dancing, caber-tossing, shot putting, hammer throwing and other traditional events take place.
Braemar is full of history. It was the site of the Jacobite Rising of 1715 where the standard was raised to put the house of Stuart back on the British throne. The actual spot is now the Invercauds Arms Hotel. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the first part of Treasure Island in a Braemar cottage in August, 1881. Today, many of the village’s historic cottages offer bed and breakfast accommodation.
Two castles add to the atmosphere of the village. Kindrochit Castle, built in 1390 and now a ruin, stands in the centre of the village.
Braemar Castle, ½ mile to the north, is an L-plan tower house built as a hunting seat by the Earl of Mar in 1628. It burned 60 years later and was rebuilt with turrets and crenellations surrounding the original tower house.
A visit to the Highlands Heritage Centre located in the village is an informative and interesting journey through Braemar’s tradition and history. Exhibits feature the Highland Gathering, Queen Victoria, Balmoral Castle (just 8 miles down the road) and the history of the area. It contains a clan heritage shop sure to tempt those of Scottish descent.
Scattered in a mountain valley at the junction of three glens, Braemar is the quintessential Scottish Highland village, sure to please all who visit.
To reach Braemar from Edinburgh follow the A90 over the Forth Road Bridge to the M90 heading north to Perth. Just before Perth take junction 10 to junction 11; then take the A93 exit to Braemar (approximately 90 miles from Edinburgh). Nearest airport: Aberdeen
Braemar Tourist Information Centre, The Mews, Mar Rd., Braemar, Scotland Tel: 013397 41600.
Advance Reservations Service, Aberdeen and Grampian Tourist Board, Bridge Street, Banchory, AB315SX, Tel: 441330 825917
Tickets for the Highland Games must be booked for in advance through The Bookings Secretary, Coilacriech, By Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland AB35 5UH
Braemar Highland Heritage Centre is located on Mar Road, Braemar. Tel: 013397 41944. Exhibits feature the Highland Gathering, Queen Victoria, Balmoral Castle and the history of the area. It contains a clan heritage shop.
Balmoral Castle, 8 miles north of Braemar on the A93—grounds, gardens and exhibitions only open.
Photo credits: Braemar Morrone courtesy Steve Hayes; Braemar bridge view by Barbara Ballard; Braemar pipers courtesy Visit Britain; Braemar dancers courtesy Jim Henderson; Kindrochit Castle courtesy Mike Franklin; Braemar Castle courtesy Graeme Buck; Braemar thrower courtesy Jim Henderson.