B is for Balmoral and Battlefields

The Queen's Balmoral Castle

B is for Balmoral and Battlefields and lots of other ideas beginning with B. If you are looking to spend time seeing real Scotland instead of packing and unpacking your bag then you have come to the right place to base yourself for some serious exploring. Here are just a few suggestions.

B for Balmoral Castle

Just a 90-minute drive from us is the King’s beautiful Highland Balmoral Estates.  Situated in the Cairngorms National Park between the villages of Ballater and Braemar and sitting right beside the River Dee it is easy to understand why the Royal Family chooses to escape to Scotland in the Summer.Balmoral Castle

The Castle has a lovely Cafe in the Castle grounds and a superb gift shop in the old stables. You may need to book in advance, a limited tour of the Castle is included and you have full access to the Castle Grounds. However, be aware it is not uncommon for there to be no access during August.Prince Albert's Cairn August in Scotland

The beauty of Balmoral is the Estate, the grounds and the area itself, perhaps less so the Castle. To get a real taste of the beauty of the Estate book an Expedition Tour of the Estate with one of the rangers. If you feel fit then you can enjoy the Cairns Walk or the Pyramid Walk for free all year round and these walks are a unique experience. If you have time in your day drive to Loch Muick and enjoy the beautiful Loch and its surroundings.

B for Battlefields or more specifically Culloden Battlefield

This is a must-see to get a true feeling for the Highlands and is on every Outlander fan list. Sitting high above Inverness with poignant views of sea, mountains and moorland you can get a real experience of the final Jacobite rising in 1746. Immerse yourself in the realistic battle display at the Visitor Centre, it changed the Highland way of life forever.Culloden Battlefield

B for Beaches

My favourite without a doubt is Roseisle Beach – four miles of pure sand with stunning views of the Northern Coast.  Put it on your list, grab a picnic and eat it on the beach whilst admiring the view. Findhorn Beach, a real suntrap in Summer, with a gorgeous harbour, pretty views, dolphin-watching boat trips and lots of seals adjoins Roseisle and has some lovely places to eat.

This picture shows the stunning sands and second world war defences on Roseisle Beach, Moray.

B for Birding

Until I lived here I had never appreciated the pleasure of birdwatching. I am not an expert but the sheer pleasure of walking or riding in quiet woodlands watching a bird of prey soar above you is hard to beat. Look out for buzzards, eagles and osprey – they are all here. On the grounds we frequently see ducks, pheasants, blue herons, lots of lovely little garden birds and my favourite Oystercatchers heralding the arrival of Summer. Sit outside at night and listen to the sound of the owls.

Sunset over Findhorn Bay

Venture to the hides on Blairs Loch and spend time quietly watching the different birds go about their business. Visit Findhorn and spend time watching the geese and gulls. Then book a boat ride and spend time on the water looking not just for dolphins but the seabirds. Watching diving Gannets is spectacular, listen to guillemots and cormorants chatting to themselves on the Moray cliffsides. If boat rides are not your cup of tea then walk along the coastline from Bow Fiddle Rock to Cullen – not only are the views spectacular so is the birdwatching.

B for Black Isle

Okay, so the Black Isle is not exactly an Island but a small peninusular in Ross and Cromarty just northeast of Inverness. So named because of the black fertile soil. As you look out over the view from the Terrace you will be looking over to the Black Isle. The first stop needs to be Chanonry Point for a spot of Dolphin spotting, one of the best places in the UK.

Then make your way along to Cromarty – a beautiful Georgian town full of merchant houses and a historic fishing port. Don’t miss the Cromarty Courthouse – so realistic I thought there were real people still in court. While you are there explore the jail and admire the photographic record of the bygone fishing industry.Chanonry Point

If you need some exercise walk or drive to the hill above Cromarty to look over Nigg Ferry and the Moray Firth and look back to see if you can see Blervie House.Black Isle - things to do in Moray beginning with B

Then take your time driving back on the other side of the Isle admiring the soft rolling hills and fertile fields may be exploring your way home via the charming town of Beauly.

B is for Books

Looking for a relaxing break, need some R&R, grab a book and a quiet spot in the house, there are plenty of both and just drop out for a while.

This picture shows an example so some of the books you can find at Blervie House

B for Bridges

History in Scotland is everywhere. Visit the Packhorse Bridge in Carrbridge – 300 years old and often referred to as the Coffin Bridge. I would not like to walk over it now, let alone with a coffin.  Between Culloden and Carrbridge you have Dulsie Bridge – built in 1755 as part of General Wade’s Military Roads connecting Braemar to Fort George. It is a superb place to appreciate the deep gorges of the River Findhorn. And then there is the famous Craigellachie Bridge the oldest surviving cast-iron bridge in Scotland built by architect Thomas Telford 200 years ago.

300 year old Packhorse Bridge in Carrbridge

I hope this has helped give you a few ideas, it is quite possible to do several of these activities in one day as they are all quite close together. My previous blog Things to in Moray Beginning with A covers Things to in Moray with an A and I add more activities every month.

If you are planning a trip to Scotland and need help and advice on what to see please feel free to contact us.