Balmoral Castle - The Queen's Favorite Home in Scotland
A visit to Balmoral, the private residence of the British Royal family in Scotland is a must do on the list of most tourists. Balmoral Castle on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire was bought by Queen Victoria in1852 after a vacation there. The original castle was considered too small for the needs of the Royal Family and the present castle was built nearby under the supervision of Prince Albert, her consort. The granite came from the neighboring quarries of Glen Gelder, which produced a near white stone.
It is the favorite summer home of the present Queen and her family and they take a keen interest in the working of the Balmoral Estate which encompasses 50,000 acres. The grounds, garden and castle ballroom are open to the public when the Royal family is not in residence. The ballroom displays beautiful items in silver and porcelain and paintings by Landseer and Carl Haag. Currently there is also a collection of Royal clothing on display in the ballroom. The rest of the castle is not open to the public, being the Queen's private rooms.
Since 2003 the Balmoral Estate has become a part of the Cairngorms National Park, Britain's largest national park. The Balmoral environment, architecture and wildlife have been carefully preserved for posterity. The picturesque river Dee runs nearby and the estate includes the 2,500 acre Ballochbuie Forest, the largest reserve of native Caledonian Pine in Scotland. Trees have been planted in another 5,000 acres to create a wooded shelter for red deer. Recently the Duke of Edinburgh has enlarged the flower and vegetable garden and created the water garden. 6350 acres around Loch Muick and Lochnagar is now a wildlife reserve.
Theme walks under the guidance of the Ranger Service in Balmoral is an excellent way to explore and learn about this wonderful estate. There are also several cottages that can be rented here on a weekly basis and several activities such as running holidays, painting and photography holidays enable participants to enjoy and experience the beauty of Balmoral Castle and Estate first hand. These are unique ways to make the most of a vacation if one has the time and resources for it.