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Ballater

(Royal Warrant Village)
Aberdeenshire

A small resort town in the Royal Deeside parish of Glenmuick, Tullich and Glengairn, W Aberdeenshire, Ballater lies on the River Dee 43 miles (69 km) west of Aberdeen. It developed as a spa resort, first in the 1770s to accommodate visitors to the Pananich Mineral Wells, and later after the arrival of the railway in 1866. Ballater remained the western terminus of the Deeside Railway until it closed in 1966 and the station regularly received royal parties en route to Balmoral Castle. The Old Royal Station became a visitor centre in 2001 until it was devastated by a fire in 2015. As the nearest significant settlement to Balmoral, Ballater became known as the 'Royal Warrant Village' because many of its businesses have supplied the royal household.

Largely built of reddish granite, its houses are laid out in a regular pattern around a central church green. Ballater benefits from a post-office, primary school, three churches and the Victoria and Albert Halls, which were begun in 1874, together with an office of the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Ballater Primary School was built in 1955, replacing an older school that is now Ballater Environmental Education Centre, and has a roll of 128 pupils (2015). Glenmuick Parish Church dates from 1873, replacing the old Centrical Church of 1800. St. Nathalan's Roman Catholic Church dates from 1905, while St. Kentigern's Scottish Episcopal Church opened for worship two years later. The former Free Kirk of 1859 was converted to commercial use in 1986 and now operates as the Auld Kirk guest house. Built as a group of neat cottages within a compound in 1869, Victoria Barracks on Queen's Road provides accommodation for the Royal Guard when the monarch is in residence at Balmoral. The town lies amidst dramatic mountain and forest scenery at an altitude of 213m (700 feet) above sea-level and is today a centre for wayfaring and orienteering with tourist and sporting facilities that include an 18-hole golf course. The Pass of Ballater to the north of the town is an ice-worn ravine linking Milton of Tullich in the east to Bridge of Gairn.

Father of town planning Sir Patrick Geddes was born here in 1854. In 2012, a cairn was unveiled in the centre of the village to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, constructed by local people from stones gathered from the hills surrounding the Balmoral Estate.


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