Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle

Royal Deeside and Victorian Scotland

4 days From £595

17 June 2019

2019 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria, during whose reign Britain went through huge social changes. This new tour examines some of the Scottish locations that played a part in her life and helped popularise Scotland as a holiday destination.

The centrepiece must be Balmoral Castle, the much-loved home of Queen Victoria and subsequent generations of the Royal family. It was Victoria’s frequent visits here and to the surrounding area that transformed Scotland into a popular holiday and recreational destination.

Victoria has connections with all our visits in one form or another, from Craigievar Castle where she signed the visitor’s book, Crathes Castle where she reputedly saw the resident ghost, to Blair Castle, which she visited twice, as featured in the second series of ITV’s ‘Victoria’.

We will also take the opportunity to visit the new Victoria & Albert Museum in Dundee, which is expected to bring a significant increase in visitor numbers to the city – even 200 years after her birth, the very name ‘Victoria’ is still attracting people to Scotland!

What's included?

  •  Accommodation
  •  Services of a professional tour manager
  •  Comfortable coach travel throughout
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
Book Now £595 Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £75

Tour highlights:

  • Visit Balmoral Castle, the centerpiece of Royal Deeside
  • Follow in Queen Victoria’s footsteps at the castles of Craigievar, Crathes and Blair
  • Enjoy the brand-new, world-class attraction of the V&A Museum, Dundee
  • The superb panoramic vista of the Queen’s View

Tour details

Dates 17 June 2019 - 20 June 2019
Duration 4 days
Cost £595 Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £75 Balance due by 25 March 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code BWRDV19A

Departure Points

Location Depart Return
Glasgow 1000 2100
Edinburgh 1115 1945
Dunfermline 1145 1915
Kinross 1200 1800
Perth 1315 1730
Dundee 1345 1700

Please note all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

17 June 2019: Itinerary

We depart by coach from our local pick-up points and travel to the new V&A Museum in Dundee, which presents the brilliance of Scottish creativity and the best of design from around the world. The original Victoria & Albert Museum in London was opened by Queen Victoria in 1857, though at this time it was known as the South Kensington Museum. It was only at the ceremony in 1899 when the foundation stone of the Aston Webb building was laid that the name was changed to the Victoria and Albert Museum, in what proved to be the Queen’s last official public appearance. Dundee’s V&A is expected to bring about a large increase in visitors numbers to Dundee, just as Queen Victoria’s first forays into Scotland laid the foundations for the thriving tourist industry that we know today.

We continue to our comfortable hotel.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Maryculter House Hotel, Aberdeen

Following breakfast we depart for a visit to Balmoral Castle, the centrepiece of Royal Deeside itself. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first visited Scotland in 1842, five years after her accession to the throne and two years after their marriage. During this first visit they stayed at Edinburgh, and at Taymouth Castle in Perthshire, the home of the Marquess of Breadalbane. They returned in 1844 to stay at Blair Castle and, in 1847, when they rented Ardverikie by Loch Laggan. During the latter trip they encountered weather that was extremely rainy, which led Sir James Clark, the queen's doctor, to recommend Deeside instead, for its healthier climate. The royal couple arrived for their first visit on 8 September 1848. Victoria found the house "small but pretty" and recorded in her diary that: "All seemed to breathe freedom and peace, and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils". The surrounding hilly landscape is also said to have reminded them of Thuringia, Albert's homeland in Germany.

It was quickly realized that the original castle would be too small and on 1852 a new house was commissioned from Aberdeen architect William Smith, with Prince Albert taking a close interest in the details. Though relatively modern it is clearly in the style of a 'Scottish' castle. It is a private home of the Royal family and each autumn the family spend up to two months holidaying there.

We will also pay a short visit to Crathie Kirk the quaint small church that is used by the Royal Family for worship while staying at Balmoral and where the Princess Royal married Timothy Lawrence.

Travelling back along the River Dee we call in at Ballater, the former terminus of the branch railway line from Aberdeen, over which Victoria and Albert and their large family travelled on their trips to Balmoral, which soon became a regular occurrence. It was still being used by the royals into the 1960s when the line closed under the infamous Beeching cuts. The former station has just been re-opened following a catastrophic fire in 2015.

We then return to our hotel where dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Maryculter House Hotel, Aberdeen

After breakfast we will travel to Craigievar Castle, a fine example of Scottish Baronial architecture, which seems to have grown naturally out of the rolling hills. The great tower stands just as it did when completed in 1626 and the castle is home to a fine collection of family portraits and original plaster ceilings. There is also much original Jacobean woodwork and some beautiful furniture, including the 'Craigievar table'. Surrounding the castle are extensive parkland grounds with two waymarked walks. There is also a small Victorian kitchen garden and a Scottish glen garden. Victoria visited the castle twice and she signed the visitor’s book on her second visit in 1879.

In the afternoon we visit visit to Crathes Castle, a superb example of a tower house of the second half of the 16th century. Fairytale-like turrets, gargoyles of fantastic design and the ancient Horn of Leys given in 1323 by Robert the Bruce are just a few of the features of this historic castle. There is also a fine walled garden, which incorporates herbaceous borders and many unusual plants, providing a wonderful display. Victoria is among those said to have experienced the ghostly presence of the ‘Green Lady’, one of two female spirits reputed to haunt the castle.

Dinner will be served back at our hotel in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Maryculter House Hotel, Aberdeen

Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and travel back along Royal Deeside, this time continuing all the way to Braemar and over the mountain pass at Glen Shee where it is possible there will still be patches of snow at the ski resort here. We continue through Strathardle and Pitlochry to Blair Castle, which is nestled in the landscape of Highland Perthshire and has been home to 19 generations of Stewarts and Murrays of Atholl. Unique amongst Scottish castles, the story told here will take you from a visit by Mary Queen of Scots to the Civil War and from the Jacobite cause to the disaster of Culloden following Bonnie Prince Charlie's own stay in the castle. You'll hear how the lucky inheritance of a smuggler-infested island helped turn the castle into a comfortable home and how a visit from Queen Victoria led to the creation of Europe's only surviving private regiment, the Atholl Highlanders. Victoria’s first visit here in 1842 was the subject of an episode of the second series of ITV’s ‘Victoria’ and was filmed on location here.

Before we head for home we will enjoy the Queen’s View on Loch Tummell. Victoria visits the viewpoint in the aforementioned Blair Castle episode but as she didn’t actually come here until 1866 a little artistic licence was used to create the scene. Although the Queen in the popular name is usually thought to refer to Victoria, it has been suggested that it was in fact named for King Robert the Bruce’s wife Queen Isabella, some 550 years earlier. Either way, it’s a stunning vista and a suitably regal way to wrap up our tour in the footsteps of Victoria Regina.

Following this, our final visit, we return to our original pick-up points.

Meals include: Breakfast

17 June 2019: Additional Info

17 June 2019: Accommodation

With a picturesque setting on the banks of the River Dee, this charming Scottish mansion dates back to 1225 AD, and was once home to the Knights Templar.

The stylish decoration of the hotel offers a combination of modern luxury with period details, such as natural stone, wood paneling, exposed fireplaces, and tall beamed ceilings.

17 June 2019: Enquiries

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