The rural town of Banchory, surrounded by rolling countryside, is the gateway to Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms. The coming of the railway in 1853 turned the town into a country resort and much of its architecture dates back to that era. The clean air of Deeside has long been a draw, evidenced by the building of the Nordrach on Dee sanatorium in Banchory in 1901, as a haven for tuberculosis patients – the remains of the building can still be seen.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert often travelled by royal carriage to Balmoral Castle on the Deeside Railway line – now a popular footpath that meanders through Banchory and beyond. Today more than 8,000 people live here making it the largest town in Deeside.
The tumbling Falls of Feugh, where salmon can be spotted leaping up the river in winter and spring, is guaranteed to impress – as will the picture-book tearoom set on its banks. Hill walkers will be in their element on nearby Scolty Hill or one of the higher peaks accessed from the Cairn O’Mount road, such as Clachnaben.
Traditional Scottish architecture is showcased nearby at two National Trust for Scotland castles, Crathes and Drum, just a short drive from the town centre. Widely believed to be one of the most beautiful and best preserved castles in the country, Crathes Castle also has stunning formal gardens – as summer approaches the herbaceous borders can only be described as magnificent. Set on an estate of more than 400 acres Drum Castle has a medieval chapel, a formal rose garden and romantic forest walks in the old wood of Drum. www.nts.org.uk
The town boasts a thriving arts centre set in a converted cow byre – Woodend Barn, which has a year-round programme of arts events including music, theatre, comedy, dance, film, children’s events, exhibitions and workshops. www.woodendbarn.co.uk
Details of local annual events can be found at www.visitbanchory.com including the Banchory River Festival held on the second weekend in June, and the Banchory (agricultural) Show held on the last Saturday in July.