Things to Do & Places to See

With so much to see and do, we are sure your family will have a fantastic holiday exploring this wonderful part of Scotland.

Welcome to Royal Deeside!

Interactive map of things to do in Royal Deeside and Aberdeenshire


mill maud walk by bankhead steading

The Cottage location is very lucky to be surrounded by hundreds of walks from minutes to hours in length.
Our favourite local walks are Corse Hill, Mill Maud and Craiglich, which are on our doorstep and offer superb views, as well as the walks around Craigievar Castle, only 5 minutes drive away.

Glen Tanar and Loch Kinord are our other favourite walks, the latter is also home to Burn O’ Vat, both less than 30 minutes away.

Lochnagar and Loch Muick are incredible, unspoiled places to visit.
Banchory and the surrounding area has a lot of walks many of which are listed on Visit Banchory.
Guided hill walking is available from Hillgoers.



Skiing and Snowboarding
Glenshee is an hour away and is Scotland’s largest ski resort.

The Lecht is 50 minutes away, perfect for beginners and easily accessible.

Cairngorm Mountain is a bit further away but is worth a trip for the views, sports and the funicular railway.

The Cairngorms offer the majority of Scotland’s ski and snowboard slopes. We are in a great location to offer the best of both worlds, if the weather doesn’t allow for skiing, there is plenty to do on Deeside!

Mountain Biking
Ballater is the place to head for mountain biking!
Cycle Highlands and The Bike Station offer hire and advice on where to go.
​Banchory also offers plenty of trails. Some of the ski resorts also offer summer mountain biking.

We are surrounded by miles and miles of quiet country roads so bring your bike and go exploring!
​There are OS maps in the Steading for our guests’ use.

Scotland is golf’s ancestral home and there are plenty of golf courses nearby.
Aboyne, Banchory, Ballater and Lumphanan all have their own courses.

Cairn Leuchars moutain biking


Craigievar castle Alford

Aberdeenshire Castle Trail has 15 of the 19 stops within an hours drive of the cottage.

Balmoral, Queen Victoria’s ancestral home offers tours of the grounds and gardens as well as safaris.

Craigievar Castle, said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle, is just 5 minutes away.

Dunnottar Castle is well worth a visit, 50 minutes by car, Dunnottar Castle sits on a clifftop and is one of the most famous castles in the world.

Crathes CastleDrum CastleCastle Fraser and Kildrummy Castle are all easily reached within 35 minutes and all offer their own unique history.


Royal LochnagarTomintoulGlen Garioch and Glen Dronach distilleries are all within an hours drive of Bankhead Cottage.

The Secret Malts of Aberdeenshire is a great guide to other nearby  distilleries.

The malt whisky trail takes you further north towards speyside.

whisky scotland aberdeenshire deeside

Food and Drink

fish and chips

We are very lucky to have an abundance of fantastic places to eat delicious local produce, here are a few favourites

The Kildrummy Inn restaurant is a hidden gem. The place to go for a very special meal out from a former Masterchef of Great Britain.
Banchory Lodge sits in a beautiful spot next to the River Dee and has a delicious seasonal menu.
The ​Boat Inn at Aboyne is a relaxed riverside pub where you can enjoy a well earned drink and hearty pub grub.

Finzean Farm Shop is a beautiful spot for lunch, with much of the food coming from the estate itself!
Spider on a Bicycle​​ in Aboyne is one our favourites for coffee, a healthy bite to eat and cake to round it off.
Just down the road in Torphins, Platform 22 is another bonny cafe that does a lovely lunch and superb coffee. Torphins also has a weekly market with lots of treats.

​Banchory Beer Festival runs from the 10th-12th of August, 3 days of drinks, music and street food.

Taste of Grampian is Inverurie’s showcase of the best of the North East of Scotland’s produce.

Local Family Attractions

Go ape at Crathes Castle, is an adventure high ropes course through the trees

Deeside activity park is just down the road and has lots of activities for all the family

Deeside gliding club at Aboyne offers something a bit different!

gliding strip

Local Towns & Villages

Ballater scene

Aboyne is our local village, 10 minutes away, it has a decent co-op, pubs, fish and chips and local shops.

Alford is a small town and hosts the Grampian Transport Museum and ​Alford Heritage Centre.

Banchory is our local town, 15 minutes away, there are 2 supermarkets and lots of local shops.

Ballater is a very pretty village, 30 minutes away, lots of cafes, ice cream and regular farmers markets.

Bankhead is 45 minutes to Aberdeen city centre and International airport.

Highland Games

If you’ve never been to a Highland Games before this Highland Games article is a great beginners guide!

Aboyne Games is our most local games in Aboyne, 15 minutes down the road. Every year on the first Saturday in August, the queen attended recently when Aboyne celebrated it’s 150th year!

Ballater Highland Games a grand games often attended by Prince Charles, in the beautiful village of Ballater. Held on the second Thursday in August in Monaltrie Park, Ballater. A great day and a fantastic village to spend the day exploring.

highland games scene

Braemar Gathering one of the most famous games, the Queen’s favourite, Braemar is an hours drive. World famous for it massed pipe band parades, Braemar is held on the first Saturday in September. Braemar Gathering also has a junior games in mid July for children to participate in Highland Games, with the emphasis on fun!

Lonach Gathering​ always the 4th Saturday in August, Lonach is a very friendly games with a lively bar! Lonach is held in Strathdon, half an hours drive away.

Natural World

redwood at craigievar castle

Burn O’ Vat is a genuine natural wonder, gouged out of rock by nature, it has to be seen to be believed.

The Cairngorms national park is on our doorstep and offers some of Scotland’s greatest scenery.

Deeside Nature Activities also offers extensive tours.

​Glen Tanar and Balmoral land rover safaris offer fantastic guided tours, deep into the forest and hill tracks of the Cairngorms to see many of our iconic species and secret places off the beaten track.

Highland Wildlife Park is just over an hours drive and is a chance to get up close and personal with some of wild Scotland’s residents as well as others from further afield.

Country pursuits

The River Dee is 10 minutes from the cottage and offers some of the finest fishing in Scotland.
Lower Dess is the nearest estate to Bankead on the River Dee.
Glen Tanar fishing courses are offered for complete beginners through to improvers, and beats with a ghillie for the seasoned fisherman.
Finzean and Ballogie estates also offer abundant fishing.

Horse riding
With so much open countryside there are many places to hack out or go on pony trails. Glen Tanar offers great days and World Horse Welfare’s Belwade farm is a great day out for all things horsey with bistro as well.

river don haughton park

Deeside offers some of the best field sports in Scotland. Many notable estates are within very easy reach of Bankhead. Plenty of supplies available down the road at Hunter’s Cabin.
Findrack Estate is just down the road in Lumphanan, offering a huge array of sport.
Finzean and Ballogie estates have a wealth of sporting activities with challenges including deer stalking, grouse, ducks, clays and more.
Glen Tanar also offers superb grouse shooting.