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Nestling in the middle of the dramatic Highlands is the village of Braemar. Only a few hundred people live here, but it is a mecca for outdoor sports and activities including walking, climbing, fishing, skiing and the famous Highland Games at the annual Braemar Gathering, to name but a few. It's only an hour's drive from Aberdeen to the east or Perth to the south, and its great to be able to get into the wild countryside so quickly from the city.

I've been going to Braemar frequently for about twenty years, so it was about time I wrote a page about it. These pictures span the best part of the 2000s decade, but I'm sure there will be many more adventures to come.

The famous Braemar Sign

Upon entry to Braemar, you'll encounter the famous Braemar Sign, as flagrantly ripped off by Hollywood. If you're really lucky, a couple of Braemartians will be there to greet you.

The bustling metropolis of Braemar, as seen from the nearby hill of Creag Choinnich. This urban sprawl has developed over generations, with as many as six houses having been built in the 1970s.

Braemar from the air

Braemar castle

Braemar Castle guards the entrance to the village at the Aberdeen end. There are only two roads connecting Braemar to the rest of civilisation, so it's easy to patrol. The castle reopened to tourists in the late 2000s.

The grand edifice of Invercauld House can be seen from the hills around Braemar. Along with Mar Lodge and Balmoral Castle, it is one of the estate seats for the surrounding lands.

Invercauld House

Fife Arms Hotel

The centre of Braemar is overseen by the Fife Arms Hotel, a great location for food and refreshments in all seasons.

The other major hotel in Braemar is the Invercauld Arms. It used to have a separate bar that was very popular, but since closed after the hotel was bought by a coach company.

Invercauld Arms Hotel

Linn of Dee

A little out of town is the local beauty spot Linn of Dee. A linn is where a whole river flows through a very narrow channel. Downstream of the linn are cliffs and deep pools which are good for jumping, swimming and snorkelling.

Linn of Quoich at Allanaquoich is a similar place at the end of the Mar Lodge road. An unusual local feature of Allanaquoich is a large pothole called "The Punch Bowl", no longer under the river's flow.

Linn of Quoich

Strolling by Loch Muick

Deep and dark, Loch Muick is at the foot of Lochnagar, which confusingly is a mountain as well as being another small loch. The Victorians didn't like the unsavoury Gaelic name of the mountain "Cac Carn Mor", so they named it after the loch.

There are a couple of major ski centres near Braemar, some of which offer summer activities too. This is a fine summer's day at the Lecht Ski Centre, heading up the slopes to do some Deval Karting.

The Lecht in summer

Bearded piper

The first weekend in September brings the annual highland games at the Braemar Gathering. Pipers aplenty.

Around a dozen pipe bands show up for games day, and there are ad-hoc pipe-offs in the centre of the village too.

Braemar pipe band

Braemartian whistler

Every games day I've been to I've seen this bekilted whistling character, with his electric guitar and portable amp. He may not be very good, but he's a bit of a spectacle.

Jacobite-types get into character for the highland games.


Her Maj

The Braemar Games are well known for being frequented by none other than the Queen, who rolls along from Balmoral in the Daimler for some of the afternoon.

Not a tartan rug on the grass for Her Maj, she does of course get the Royal Box, and is usually accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles too.

Braemar Games Royal Box

Stag ballroom at Mar Lodge

Along the road towards Linn of Dee is Mar Lodge, the seat of Mar Estate. The ballroom is decorated with over 2500 stags' heads, mostly skulls but some still in the flesh, like this creepy customer, straight from "The Evil Dead".

Mar Lodge in summer sets an impressive scene before the hills and forest.

Mar Lodge in summer

Mar Lodge in winter

Mar Lodge in winter however is an entirely different place, bearing the brunt of the Scottish weather. This was taken in an early April.

Inverey Youth Hostel is another of my old haunts, but has unfortunately since closed due to lack of funds. Perhaps I should have stayed there more often.

Inverey Youth Hostel

View from Morrone

View from the top of Morrone in winter, the nearest large peak to Braemar. From Braemar you can go over 40 miles in one direction without encountering another paved road.

A snowy scene in Braemar village.

Braemar in the snow

Sledging in Braemar

Sledging in fresh snow out by the Braemar golf course, the highest-altitude 18-hole course in the UK.

The River Cluny divides the two historical halves of Braemar; Auchendryne and Castleton (not Brae and Mar). During winter the temperature can drop below minus 25 degrees.

Braemar's River Cluny

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