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Gaelic: Bealadair
Ballater Kirk.jpg
Glenmuick Parish Church
Grid reference: NO369958
Location: 57°2’41"N, 3°2’58"W
Population: 1,446  (2006 est.)
Post town: Ballater
Postcode: AB35
Dialling code: 01339
Local Government
Council: Aberdeenshire
West Aberdeenshire
and Kincardine

Ballater is a wee town and burgh in Aberdeenshire, on the banks of the River Dee, immediately east of the Cairngorm Mountains. It stands at a height of 700 feet above sea level and is a centre for hikers. The town is known for its spring water, once said to cure scrofula.


The mediæval pattern of development along this reach of the River Dee was influenced by the ancient trackways across the Grampian Mounth, which determined strategic locations of castles and other Deeside settlements of the Middle Ages.[1]

In the early 14th century, the area was part of the estates of the Knights of St John, but the settlement did not develop until around 1770; first as a spa resort to accommodate visitors to the Pananich Mineral Well, then later upon the arrival of the railway in 1866 (since closed). Ballater railway station was closed in 1966. Many buildings date from the Victorian era and the centre of the village is a conservation area.

Royal connection

Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family's summer home, lies approximately 9 miles west, and the family has visited the town frequently since the time of Queen Victoria. Birkhall lies about a mile and a half southwest of Ballater. The Victoria Barracks is used by the Royal Guard for the castle.

Local stores, including HM Sheridan, butchers, Alistair Cassie, TV engineer, and 'Countrywear' an outdoor sports shop, had for decades Royal Warrants bestowed upon them by the Queen Mother, until her passing.


Ballater is a centre for tourism in Royal Deeside, with the Cairngorms and Balmoral Castle nearby. There are two bike hire shops in the village for exploring the surrounding rugged landscape: Cycle Highlands[2] and The Bike Station[3] The old Ballater station, containing Queen Victoria's waiting room, is now a visitor centre with a replica royal carriage.[4] Balmoral Castle is a 10-minute drive from the village.

Wherever you venture out of the village, there are many walks. For the easy going walker, there is Craigendarroch, a small, peculiarly shaped hill that you can commence up immediately from the village. About 7½ miles south-west of Ballater is the impressive Loch Muick. From there experienced walkers can head up the prominent mountain, Lochnagar. Ballater is the home of many challenging walks due to the abundance of Munros in the area.

The River Dee that flows through Ballater is renowned for its salmon fishing during the fishing season.

Events in the town include:

  • The Ballater Walking Festival, held annually in May, attracts many hillwalkers of all levels.[5] Participants are guided through the hills and valleys of the eastern Cairngorms.
  • The Ballater Boules Challenge, on alternate Sundays from November to March each year, provides an alternative sport when the weather is not cold enough for the traditional game of curling.[6]
  • Victoria Week, held annually in August, is a celebration of Ballater's connection with Queen Victoria and Balmoral Castle.[7]

The village has its own 'tongue in cheek', on-line newspaper, the Ballater Bugle.[8]

Recently five Ballater residents refurbished the Automobile Association's Patrol Box at Cambus O'May, one of only 8 to 10 such historical call centres estimated to be remaining in situ in Great Britain.[9]

Outside links