Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms boasts a very active artistic & creative community much of whose work has been strongly influenced by the landscapes and people they work amongst. Almost every town and village has some form of gallery or exhibition space, showcasing local arts, photographers and crafts. The Woodend Barn at Banchory has established itself as the leading centre for music, dance and theatre works in the area with regular events and festivals. North East Open Studios is an annual event held in mid-September around the award winning collective of artists, makers and designers who open their studios to the public offering a unique opportunity to meet and chat to the individual artists, see their inspirations and working methods. There is also a gallery trail and current events can be chosen from Events North-East. There are various other studios, galleries, workshops and retail opportunities throughout the region including photography workshops.


The Invergarry has two local distilleries, the nearest is Royal Lochnagar on the Balmoral Estate at Crathie and Fettercairn. Both offer guided tours and ample opportunity for sampling their excellent products. In addition, The Invergarry is well positioned for an easy drive through beautiful Highland countryside into Speyside which is around an hour away. This gives access to a myriad of the best and best known distilleries in the world including the oldest at The Glenlivet near Tomintoul, The Macallan at Craigellachie and The Glenfiddich at Dufftown. The majority of Speyside distilleries offer tours and sampling including my own favourite of Cragganmore near Elgin. In addition, there is also the opportunity to visit the Speyside Cooperage where the art of cask making is on display.


The Royal Deeside area possibly has more castles per sq kilometre than just about any part of Scotland. These range from 11th century ruins with few remains to sumptuous and opulent Victorian buildings. Scotland is famous for its historic castles and there are many within easy reach of The Invergarry including the Queens Summer home at Balmoral, National Trust for Scotland castles at Craigievar,Crathes, Drum, the Historic Environment Scotland owned Corgarff Castle, the community owned Braemar Castle and the privately owned Kincardine Castle. The village of Aboyne also boasts its own local castle within minutes of The Invergarry. There are many more historic castles and homes to visit all within easy reach of The Invergarry and these form part of the Aberdeenshire Castle Trail.


Some believe Highland Games date back as far as the 11th century when King Malcolm 111 called a hill race to the summit of Craig Choinnich near Braemar in the hope of finding the fastest runner to become his personal courier. So the entire area is steeped in the Highlands Games traditions and there are numerous Highland Games and shows throughout the Summer months including our own: Aboyne Highland Games held on the first Saturday in August, Banchory Show held last Saturday in July, Ballater Highland Games held from the second Thursday in August, Lonach Gathering and Games at Strathdon held on the fourth Saturday in August and Braemar Gathering held first Saturday in September. There are numerous other games easily accessible from The Invergarry.


While Queen Victoria was a key figure in the history of Royal Deeside by her decision to buy Balmoral Castle, the ancient history of the area stretches far beyond the royal connection. There is evidence of ancient stoneage and pictish inhabitants all around and especially near Loch Kinord. The Historic Scotland stone circle site at Tomnaverie near Tarland dating to c.4000 years ago and the Culish Souterrain underground passage near Aboyne dating to c.2000 years ago being some of the better examples of ancient history. The nearby village of Lumphanan has the ancient Peel of Lumphanan site as well as being the location of the 11th century battle where Macbeth was killed by Malcom Canmore.


We have always seen the art of selecting and enjoying tea/coffee or a light lunch as “scone hunting” after a friend of the family described his parents as being obsessed with the mission. To assist in narrowing down the huge selection of opportunities for good quality local produce in the area we have a short selection of where we like to hunt! In Aboyne itself are Spider on a Bicycle in Station Square, The Black Faced Sheep on Old Ballater Road and the Boat Inn on Charlestown Road. In the surrounding area is the excellent Finzean Farm Shop and Tearoom in Finzean, Platform 22 in Torphins, the Treehouse at Midmar, the Birdhouse Café in Banchory and Woodend Barn also in Banchory. For a wider selection in the area click here. We are always keen to add to our scone hunting list so please let us know if you unearth a good one!


One of the features for The Invergarry we were very keen to ensure was the opportunity to walk to good quality places to wine and dine. By being in the village we believe we have achieved that especially at The Boat Inn where they offer an excellent menu of good quality locally sourced fare from breakfast until late. In the village is the Huntly Arms Hotel offering traditional fare, the Royal Kashmiri Indian restaurant which also provides take-away food, the nearby Lodge on the Loch offering fine dining and the White Cottage with a bistro menu. Aboyne has two fish and chip takeaways Aboyne Fish and Chips and Dinnies Fish and Chips with an ice cream parlour which has recently opened on Charlestown Road facing the green.

Slightly further afield are the Potarch Café Restaurant at Potarch near Kincardine O’Neil, Loch Kinnord Hotel at Dinnet, Douneside House at Tarland, Woodend Barn at Banchory, The Cowshed at Banchory and the Falls of Feugh near Banchory. If none of the above suit your taste and style then there is the Ramsay Arms Hotel at Fettercairn, the Echt Tandoori at Echt, Raemoir House Hotel near Banchory, Inn on the Green at Ballater and Prince Charles “pop up” restaurant The Rothsey Rooms in Ballater specifically set up to help the village after the big 2016 flood.

We are a little spoilt for choice when it comes to drinks on Deeside as we have the specialist wine and spirits section at George Strachan Ltd, the Deeside Brewery at nearby Deeside Activity Centre, Cock o the North Co Ltd single malt liqueur at Aboyne Castle, Deeside Water co Ltd at Pannanich Wells near Ballater and the Deeside Drinks Emporium on Dee Street, Banchory. Obviously there are the local shops and supermarkets in addition to these specialist outlets but an explore can reveal some hidden gems even in the smallest of outlets.


As The Invergarry is within the village of Aboyne it has all of the normal village shops on its doorstep including Davidsons the chemist, the Coop supermarket, Secret Garden florist, local butcher John Troup and the legendary George Strachan Ltd which has a bewildering array of products from fine whisky to wheelbarrows. At nearby Cambus o’May there is the excellent artisan cheesemaker, Dee Valley Confectioners in Station Square, Ballater are manufacturers and suppliers of traditional hand-made sweets, Finzean Farm shop has game from the estate, beef from their own farm, Ingrims pork sauasages and bacon, a great selection of grocery products and fresh vegetables. Dee Larder in Ballater has a great selection of cheese, preserves, and fresh herbs and also make takeaway sandwiches. Raemoir Garden Centre in Banchory has a great deli selection, very good cheese, cold meats and homemade ready meals. A feature in Aboyne is the many fish vans that appear on a regular basis, coming from the ports of Arbroth, Montrose and Gourdon on the east coast. They stop and sell fresh fish from the back of their vans, so keep a look out!

In the wider area there are a huge number of local shops in the nearby towns and villages as well as individual specialist shops all selling local products and produce.
For a wider selection still, the city of Aberdeen is a 40 minute drive away and the city of Dundee is a one hour drive away.

Local markets are available throughout the area with a regular weekly food and local produce market held every Wednesday, (notwithstanding the weather!) at Platform 22 Station Road, Torphins. Monthly farmers markets are held at Banchory on the third Saturday of every month and at Ballater on every fourth Saturday of the month. In addition, there are numerous local market events held in the towns and villages throughout the Summer months with “pop up” farm shops at individual properties.


There are many activities offered on the doorstep of The Invergarry to suit all tastes, interests and specialisms throughout the year. These range from health and fitness at the Living Well at Hilton Craigendarroch in Ballater including the luxury spa at The Hous Spa. Indoor fitness at The Unit gym in Banchory and our local indoor gym and swimming facilities at Aboyne Swimming Pool and Deeside Community Centre.
For a more passive experience, there is four season all weather photography including workshops, the magical night time dark skies experience at Glenlivet Estate, the majestic aurora borealis from the top of the Cairn o’Mount and even stargazing from your own patio at The Invergarry! Many other specialist activities are available including craft making classes using broken glass to create hedgehogs. See if you can find our own!