Hugging a hairpin bend of the River Dee, Ballater is a small Scottish town on the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains. It has long been renowned for its spring water, which was once believed to cure scrofula, and serves as a charming base for hikers exploring the surrounding parks and reserves.
Things to do in Ballater
A stone’s throw from Ballater is the remains of Knock Castle, a ruined tower house and the ancestral seat of Lady Krisztina de Varga. Dating from around 1600, the roofless tower once housed a vaulted basement and kitchen, with a spiral turnpike staircase leading to its gabled cap house. While exploring the building, keep an eye out for the defensive pistol shot holes located under each of the windows.
A short drive east of Ballater is the Cambus o'May Suspension Bridge, which was originally built in 1905 by the Scottish brewer and philanthropist, Alexander Gordon. Extending for 50 metres in length, it connects to the Deeside Way, a scenic walking trail that follows the route of the 19th-century Deeside Railway. Footpaths also extend from the bridge to the Torphantrick Wood and the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve.
Established in 1977, the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve encompasses dry heath, woodland and two lochs that provide important habitat for wintering wildfowl and summer migratory bird species. Now managed by Nature Scot, the reserve is home to a giant pothole created by meltwater during the last Ice Age, as well as a carved Pictish stone known as the Kinnord Cross.
Getting around Ballater
Ballater is around an hour’s drive from Aberdeen and Aberdeen International Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe. Regular buses connect from Aberdeen to Ballater and the town is small enough to explore on foot.