Scotland is famous the world over for its beauty, its friendly welcome and the excellent golf and whisky.
I was in awe the moment I landed at Aberdeen Airport, at first I would like to stay in Aberdeen before I am strolling around the countryside, but my guide suggested me to stay in country house so that I can experience Scotland with the locals. The route through the Scottish pastoral showed finest agricultural land in the country. My guide explained that the trail I am taking from Aberdeen to Edinburg offers only a piece of whole beauty of Scotland hinterland.
Kincardine Estate is a traditional country estate, which is also the Laird’s family home and acknowledged as one of Scotland’s finest Victorian Castles. Kincardine sits in 3,000 acres of beautiful country estate overlooking the spectacular scenery in the heart of Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire. The estate carries out a wide range of activities besides farming, forestry, fishing and shooting.
The owner stresses that Kincardine try to maintain the atmosphere of a private family home, not a hotel. It does need a minimum number to make a house party concept work though and they are only accepting bookings from groups of six or more. When I realised that I was welcome as the only one family’s guest, I know how lucky I am. My stay in Kincardine Castle enriched my experience about Scottish people. The family inform me that my journey to Edinburg will pass Balmoral Castle.
I drive down the villages passing through the legendary Dee River to Balmoral. It lies the magnificent valley of the River Dee. Rising high in the Cairngorm Mountains and running east to its mouth at Aberdeen the river flows through some of Scotland’s finest scenery. Midway, in the shadow of Lochnagar mountain, lies Balmoral Castle, holiday home of the British Royal family.
The existence of the Estate was first recorded in the 1480’s, but it only became a royal residence in 1852 when Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert visited the Scottish Highlands, where they fell in love with the scenery and people and decided to buy a home there for private holiday periods.
Over the past 150 years careful stewardship by the owners, The Royal Family, has preserved the wildlife, scenery and architecture which is available for all generations to enjoy. In her journals Queen Victoria described Balmoral as “my dear paradise in the Highlands” – we hope you will feel the same way about Balmoral once you have visited this most special place.
I went to Hamilton and Inches. Speechless. That is my comment when one asked about this beautiful city. Entering the city, passing through the well preserved antique stone walled buildings just put me in the twilight of time when this city firstly built as capital of Scotland Kingdom. Hamilton & Inches, Silversmiths By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen, is Scotland’s leading jeweller and silversmith, independently owned and highly individual. The company has run its own silver workshops, almost the last of their kind, in the heart of Edinburgh since 1866. The Hamilton & Inches craftsmen will fashion a silver collar set with a half-carat diamond for each decanter, as well as a John Walker & Sons Royal Warrant, entwined JW&S monogram and a numbered seal to adorn the crystal. The Britannia silver, chosen for its purity, will bear the Diamond Jubilee hallmark.
With streets steeped in history and a thriving cultural scene, the City of Edinburgh offers the perfect balance between all things traditional and contemporary. The city combines the medieval Old Town, the Georgian New Town and award winning modern architecture. Explore Edinburgh at my own leisure; I see views that make for perfect picture postcards, mysterious winding streets, elegant terraces and an abundance of shops, bars and restaurants.
Edinburgh is a compact city – most of the sights and major tourist attractions are within the Old Town and New Town and are no further than a 15 minute walk apart. Walking along elegant or atmospheric streets is one of the pleasures of the city. There are however, a number of hills to be navigated; for example from Princes Street, up The Mound towards Edinburgh Castle requires some significant legwork, but it’s worth it for the views en route. Royal Miles leading to Edinburgh Castle is the city most active street in the city, where not only souvenirs shops and best scenery but also historical spots indulge your eyes.
Edinburgh’s close proximity to England, and its multicultural, sophisticated population set it apart. Its vibrant pub and club scene, its college population combined with the ever-growing Edinburgh International Festival and action packed list of cultural events, make this a city that is truly cosmopolitan and renowned world-wide. A place that hard to forget.
Text and photos by Max Kalff