Dunnottar to Brig o’Dee
Stonehaven Harbour, King’s College, Old Aberdeen, Auld Brig O’Balgownie, Craigievar Castle, Balmoral Castle
In 934, the Scots and northern British made a bid for independence. In June of that year, the English King, Athelstan, raised a great fleet and army to quell the rebellion. Four Welsh client Kings, along with Mercians and Cornishmen and Viking earls from East Anglia and Yorkshire, joined Athelstan’s army as they moved north. Athelstan called a halt at the Pictish fortress of Dunnottar, the furthest north that any English army had been before. This massive display of aggression forced the Scottish Kings to capitulate and the rebellion was suppressed in its infancy.
The history of the little town goes back a long way; a 16th century tollbooth stands on the quay and was used at one time as the local prison.
King’s College, Aberdeen
Founded in 1494, with the chapel completed in 1505, this area of Aberdeen is known as Old Aberdeen, for obvious reasons. The modern city, built largely of local granite, was constructed much later, in the 18th century.
The city of Aberdeen is certainly an ancient one, dating back, it is said, to the 6th century, when St Columba’s missionary, St Machar, travelled here from Iona. This is reflected in many of the place names and street names, especially in the area of the city known as ‘Old Aberdeen’.
Auld Brig O’Balgownie
Google Map Coordinates: 57.177282, -2.098539.
Although the bridge is now pedestrian access only, it is possible to drive right up to the bridge and park easily closeby. It is also possible to walk up and down either side of the river Don for some great views of the bridge.
The north east of Scotland is notable for its many castles; among the finest is Craigievar, now a National Trust building. Built in the early 17th century for a local merchant, ‘Danzig Willie’, using famed Aberdeen granite, Graigievar has an elegance probably unsurpassed anywhere in Scotland in this type of tower house. Clusters of turrets rise above the clean straight lines of the lower stories.
Eighty-five miles of turbulent water, amid splendid rolling hills make Deeside scenery pleasing enough for queens. And indeed, it was at the heart of Deeside that Prince Albert bought, for his beloved Queen Victoria, the estate of Balmoral. The present Balmoral Castle, home of Her Majesty the Queen, is largely the creation of Prince Albert himself; with the aid of a local architect, the Prince demolished the original castle and built the present one to his own specifications.
Old Brig o’Dee
Car Park Google Maps coordinates: 57.005737, -3.337959.
Bridge Google Maps coordinates: 57.002388, -3.341184.
As is often the way with old bridges in the smaller towns of Britain, the Old Brig O’Dee has been usurped for the more modern Invercauld Bridge. Don’t confuse this bridge with the much bigger Brig o’Dee in Aberdeen. This bridge spans the River Dee to the East of Balmoral, just before you get to Braemar. Park your car at the car park (signposted ‘Keiloch’) and walk to the old bridge from there. It should only take you 15 minutes but is well worth it for the coffee table scrapbook.