Thursday, September 21, 2006

Victorian echoes - 3 September 2006

Today it was the “Victorian Heritage Trail” we followed out of Aberdeen, heading for Dundee.

This trail marks a number of places that Queen Victoria visited. We passed through attractive villages made prosperous when Vicky chose to re-model the castle at Balmoral. Cambus O'May suspension bridge

We knew that Balmoral was not open but didn't realise why until watching TV at breakfast: the Queen was in residence at Balmoral, and Tony Blair was visiting. Had we known that earlier, we could have left Aberdeen in time to join them at the local church at 11-30 a.m.

Mar LodgeWe also discovered we missed the local, Braemar, Highland Games by one day. However, we did get to visit Mar Lodge, a hunting lodge built by Queen Victoria's grand- daughter, which is only open to the public 3 days per year. It was amazing, what a beautiful spot to come for a holiday. Oh dear, oh deerThe ballroom is festooned with nearly 2500 stags heads hunting trophies.

Linn of DeeNearby, over the Linn of Dee cataract, is a bridge, the foundation stone of which was laid by Queen Victoria, another beautiful place.

En route, we stopped at the railway station that used to be at the end of the line, in the little town of Ballater. This had a waiting room, exclusively for Victoria's use. It has been preserved, exactly as it was when she used it. What we could not work out is why Vicky would need a waiting room anyway. Surely when she stepped aboard the train it was time to go and, presumably, she would not have left the castle unless Royal Train was already at Ballater. Looking up the Dee Valley

The intention was that the railway would continue as far as Balmoral but when Vicky indicated that “we are not amused” with the thought of the hordes of Victorian tourists flocking to her holiday retreat, the railway proposal was quickly and quietly dropped.

The world's tallest hedgePredating Vicky by a considerable margin is the Meikleour Hedge, the world’s tallest hedge. It was planted around 1745 by Robert Nairne, who was killed shortly after in the Battle of Culloden. Clearly, be never came home to cut the hedge and it is now over 30m tall.

All in all, the day provided an interesting window on the past.

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