Walking, climbing & strolling
Opportunities for walking in Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms are numerous for all levels of enthusiasm, skills and fitness. These can range from shorter leisurely strolls from The Invergarry through Aboyne, to the countryside on our doorstep, to following one of the waymarked trails like the Deeside Way starting from the front door, to leaving The Invergarry for the Fungle Mounth, an old drove road in Birsemore just to the south of Aboyne, to an ascent of Morven, a Corbett with an attitude at nearby Logie Coldstone, to a full blown Winter ascent of eagle ridge, a grade 5 ice climb on Lochnagar, our “local” mountain.
Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms offers some of the best mountaineering in Northern Europe and has five of the six highest mountains in Scotland as well as being the most extensive arctic mountain range in the UK. The entire region is a hill walker’s paradise. There are 24 Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) which can be easily accessed from Deeside including Ben Macdui, Lochnagar, Derry Cairngorm, Beinn a Bhuird, Ben Avon and the most eastern Munro, Mount Keen. There are also some fantastic Corbetts (mountains over 2500 feet) including nearby Morven. Local business Walk Deeside Ltd can arrange guided climbs weather permitting.
Naturally, mountaineering in Scotland requires proper equipment, training and awareness of the dangers of rapidly changing weather conditions. Climbers and walkers of all standards can access a host of information, advice and guidance from The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, and The Scottish Mountaineering Club. In winter and snow conditions if you are venturing into the mountains please consult the Scottish Avalanche Information Service homepage for up to date information. A detailed daily weather forecast for the Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms area is provided by the Mountain Weather Information Service.
If you would like some advice on any walking opportunity then please ask as it is one of the principle reasons why we moved to this majestic part of Scotland.
There are various trails of different distances, heights, degree of difficulty and navigation complexity but all are set within the majestic and picturesque landscape of Royal Deeside and the Cairngorm National Park. On the doorstep of The Invergarry is the Deeside Way a long distance (66km) trail following the line of the old Deeside Railway line from the heart of Aberdeen to Ballater. It can be dipped into at various points along the route for short distance walks to suit any ability or enthusiasm. In Aboyne there is a side trail from the Deeside Way called the Tarland Way which is a 10km route from Aboyne to Tarland. There are waymarked trails in abundance but what we like in particular are the old Drove Roads where the cattle were taken to market from one valley to the next. These tend to be a bit more rugged that the established waymarked routes and have some degree of ascent to pass from one glen to the next. I especially enjoy the route from The Invergarry to the Fungle Mounth which starts at the Boat Inn and leads south between Birsemore Hill and Craigendinnie, both of which can be clearly seen from The Invergarry, passed the monument on top of Carnferg and then down to Birse Castle before continuing to meet another favourite Drove Road – the Firmounth –before dropping down into Tarfside some 12 miles away. Without having a lift at the far end I strongly suggest that the route is taken as far as Birse Castle before returning by the same route otherwise it is a very long day indeed! Numerous leisurely strolls can be had from the front door including a walk around Aboyne Loch, up the Queens Hill or Mortlich in behind for the more adventurous, the low road and the Bellwood, through the grounds of nearby Aboyne Castle and the Coo Cathedral or simply a walk around the beautiful village. Please just ask if you need some help.
Snowsport & skiing
Unique within Scotland is the fact that Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms contains two of the UK’s main snowsport centres at Glenshee and The Lecht. Cairngorm Snowsports centre is less than a two hour drive from The Invergarry. All these centres offer year round activities. In addition, there are practise and fun facilities at Alford Ski Centre, Aberdeen Snowsports and the Huntly Nordic and Outdoor Centre. For the truly adventurous there are various websites for fabulous off-piste skiing within the area.
Scotland is the home of golf and Royal Deeside is no exception boasting some of the finest and most scenic golf courses in the country. There are golf courses in Aboyne, Ballater, Inchmarlo, Banchory and the highest golf course in the UK at Braemar as well as many small village courses including Torphins, Lumphanan, Alford and Tarland. A base at The Invergarry will also allow easy access to many of the classic courses in the area including The Open Championship course at Carnoustie, the Scottish Open course at Royal Aberdeen, Trump International at Balmedie, Murcar, Cruden Bay and many more. There are usually practise facilities at each club and there is former Open Champion Paul Lawrie Golf Centre at Inchmarlo which has a 20 bay floodlit range, short game practise area as well as offering professional coaching.
HORSE & PONY TREKKING
Horse and pony riding is immensely popular in Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms and there are many stables and riding providers where you can book a leisurely trek, an exciting hack or a professional lesson. The closest to The Invergarry is Glen Tanar Equestrian Centre which offers the experienced and novice rider the opportunity to ride through the beautiful Glen Tanar National Nature Reserve. For other equestrian centres click here.
In addition to equestrian centres, the area has World Horse Welfare at Belwade Farm by Aboyne which specialises in horse and pony rescue, rehabilitation, re-homing as well the re-training of race horses. Also, unique to the Aboyne area is Horse Back UK which was established in 2008 by Jock and Emma Hutchison at Ferrar just outside the village. Horse Back UK is a charity established with the specific aim of taking wounded servicemen and women and introducing them to horses so they can regain their confidence and dignity, especially the mobility of amputees.
Fieldsports on the local Estates are long standing traditional pastimes in the Scottish countryside. Shooting was once a way for country folk to feed their families, but is now a sport that attracts all types of people. Deer stalking is a means of managing herd populations now there are no natural predators, to ensure that their numbers do not increase beyond what the countryside can feed and sustain. Grouse shooting, deer stalking and a variety of other fieldsports are available on Royal Deeside. All fieldsports take place within clearly defined seasons to manage stocks and maintain populations.
The River Dee is known as the world’s top spring salmon river with catches in Deeside generally higher than anywhere for Atlantic salmon from February to May. Good angling or fishing beats are available at Banchory, Kincardine O’Neil, Aboyne, Ballater and Braemar with fishing guides (ghillies) to assist from February to October. Salmon migrate up the River Dee to their spawning grounds and will spawn very close to the river bed where they were born some 3-7 years earlier. Fishing the prestigious River Dee can be booked through fishpal.com
Trout fishing is available throughout the Dee valley from a variety of stocked fisheries located near the main river and these provide fishing virtually all year round.
Whether you are into cycling for softies, mountain biking thrills or you are a hard core road racer, the Royal Deeside and Cairngorms will have a track suited for you. Bike hire is available throughout the area including at Cycle Highlands in Ballater. The premier event is the annual etape royale which is a 100m closed road event. Adventurous off road can be found here, and the less advanced trail along the former Deeside railway line offers opportunity for all.
Although you may never have thought about it, gliding is a fabulous and unique experience for any age. Deeside Gliding Club is based immediately to the west of Aboyne and offers introductory flights and instruction for beginners and some of the best gliding environment for those with more experience.
TENNIS & BOWLS
Just along Ballater Road from The Invergarry is Aboyne Tennis Club which welcomes non-members. It has four outdoor courts, two of which are floodlit and there is a unique access arrangement with a local shop for visitors. Most of the surrounding towns and villages also have tennis clubs which are open to visitors.
Next to the Tennis Courts is Aboyne Bowling Club which also welcomes non-members. Most of the surrounding towns and villages also have bowling clubs which are open to visitors.
KAYAKING & CANOEING
With the 60 mile long river Dee on the doorstep of The Invergarry, the opportunity to kayak or canoe is easy either as a beginner or as an experienced canoer. There are many sections of the river which can offer either a gentle paddle or an altogether more exhilarating day on the water.
There are many activities offered on the doorstep of The Invergarry to suit all tastes, interests and specialisms throughout the year. These range from four season quad biking at Deeside Activity Centre, summer water skiing at Aboyne Loch, health and fitness at the Living Well at Hilton Craigendarroch in Ballater including the luxury 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 geo-tours, mountain running, craft making including broken glass hedgehogs!