Post 4- A royal excursion.
The first real trip I made in Scotland was taking a bus route through Aberdeenshire and ultimately ending up at Balmoral. I’ll be honest we did miss our stop and so it was a little bit of a round-a-bout journey to our final destination but we did make it and the opportunity to amble around the grounds and take a peek at the magnificent castle made out adventure to Balmoral worth every effort. Balmoral has been one of the residence of the British Royal family since 1852. The private property is opened to the public once a year prior to the arrival of the Royal for vacation. It is surreal to think of this as a summer home. It appears incredibly opulent and austerely grand I cannot imagine being a child playing on vast the grounds and thinking this was normal, as it is and has been for many a royal child. The grounds, gardens, paths and buildings are seriously impressive and toweringly proud. There is a very classic strength to the architecture, a impressive building but also for what it is, a castle, there is a simple and straight forward elegance to its design. It is beautiful without over conception, I was captivated by the statement of the buildings, definitely a striking sight, a dynamic stand out on the horizon. In an expanse of vivid green, this cool, dark, powerful building instantly draws the eye and dominates the land it watches over.
We began our discovery of the 49,000 acre estate by straight off the bus visiting the chapel, Crathie Kirk hidden just off the road, atop a little hill, nestled in shadowing trees. From here you catch a glimpse of the estate and are enticed by what may be hidden inside the ample forests and expanses before you.
Following the tourist trail we walked with eyes wide in anticipation and total naivety as what to expect around the bend. The first thing we came across were the stables. Absolutely stunning, the stables were a prominent feature in themselves, understandably as when the estate was established horses were not only the primary means of transport but also very important labor aids and members of staff responsible for being ‘fire trucks’, supply bearers and of course carriage leaders.
The day was atmospherically perfect and added immensely to the impression created as we circled the exterior of the castle. It looms and stands in not an unwelcoming manner but more with an intense air of guardianship, a sense of withstanding time itself and a warning carried on the wind, whispered from the building stones themselves, there are secrets here, an incredible history and a deep past.
I cannot resist when given free range of an estate such as this to leave the marked path and venture a little into the more uncertain. Pushing through long grass, moving branches aside, finding overgrown, ponds behind thick patches of tress, quiet areas and flower covered meadows, areas claimed by nature and reserved for the wild and the curious few.
Walking along the river at the back of the castle, being beside the water, sheltered by trees that reach for the highest heights and sitting on rocks that have stood against storms I can think of no better pensive spot to pick and be lost a while, in body and mind. The path leading from the main building to the water edge is decorated with placks detailing the history of the rivers levels over almost 200 years.
We spent just shy of a full day wandering about the estate. Not only did we explore out of doors but we also entered the castle and glimpsed the interior that is opened to the public. We danced in the castles ballroom, there were old movies playing of Royal dances, images of Princess Diana twirling on the same spot I now inhabited. Walking across the grounds leaving the castle behind us we saw a little bit of just how immense the estate is. We journey through the seemingly never-ending fields, taking the less than direct route back to where we began, back to the bus stop, emerging from the forest and startling fellow tourist who were more conventionally meandering the clearer paths. I am certain though they did not see half of the Balmoral we saw, simply by forgetting to be inquisitive and walk towards what you eye glimpses, not just to be satisfied seeing the horizon but choosing to discover what lies beyond.
On a day when the weather smiled down upon us visiting this commanding landmark was definitely time well spent and an incredible opportunity to glimpse this prestigious estate in person, picture do not do it justice.
Travel with me across more of Scotland and discover its hidden treasures next Friday, the adventure continues.