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If successive Royals get to be themselves here – imagine how you will feel. It feels like a deep dive into the glens and ancient forests where Aberdeenshire meets the Cairngorms National Park, and where the snow-fed River Dee starts its journey from the mountains to the sea. You can roam for miles across grand highland estates – beneath windwashed cathedral pines, by still, dark lochs, along crystal-clear rivers where salmon come to spawn. Encircled by mountains or out among the heather and whin of open moorland, flora is lush, fauna is plentiful. Tread carefully to spot the rare protected capercaillie, pine marten, and red squirrel, and herds of red deer. Scan the skyline and you may see a golden eagle.
But it’s more than simply a dive into nature. Traditions – and roots – run deep here. Communities are strong. Doric – the language, poetry and especially the music – is alive. Along the valley, every village has its Highland Games. The clans that gathered here centuries ago still gather today. Granite walls, legendary castles and mysterious standing stones tell a long history of settlement. This is a landscape shaped and stewarded by hundreds of generations of hunters, farmers, foresters.
This heritage, this depth, these lovely landscapes and these long traditions – all combine to create a place that feels like an embrace.