Friday, July 10, 2015

Visiting the Queen's Home at Balmoral

Visiting  castles is fun.  Visiting castles still owned by the Queen is fun, but expensive.  You see, the Queen's castles are not part of anyone's trust, National or Scottish; after all she is The Queen.  What this means is you pay admission separately.  We were eligible for the concession ticket, which is the senior discount, so only had to pay £10 each.  We think it is worth the price.

Balmoral Castle

The castle itself is not opened to the public, as all the rooms except the Ball Room, which is a mini-museum, are the Queen's Private Quarters. I guess I wouldn't want millions of people wandering around my house, either.   In the Ball Room, pictures are not allowed, so we only have pictures of the exterior and gardens.

Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
Bill Oddie's, Birds of Britain and Ireland, describes the male's call as "among the most absurd sounds in nature. It consists of a crescendo of bubbling noises- like champagne being poured from a bottle, and ending with a pop like the sound of champagne being uncorked."

Fox and Rabbit

The old stable area is now the offices, museums, and pickup area for the Audio Guides, £5 refundable deposit required.  There are cars, buggies and trucks on one side, and an overview of the castle and grounds in another area.  One small end has examples of local wildlife, complete with their calls, some of which were a surprising sound.

Uniform of the Balmoral Guard.  The Balmoral Tartan was designed by Prince Albert to reflect the colors of nature around the castle.  It is only used by permission of the Queen.
One small stable has a wonderful exhibit of the family dogs in photos.  I didn't realize that the Queen not only has Corgis, she breeds them as well.  Wouldn't that be quite the pedigree!

The Royal Corgis traveling; they even walk themselves off the plane.

Balmoral was designed by Prince Albert.  It was built on the site of another castle which was demolished to make room for the new.  Queen Victoria was very pleased with the end result, "my dear paradise in the Highlands".
Looking through the gate from Queen Mary's garden, with the initials of the she and King George.  She designed this perennial garden, as well as the gate.

Succulents growing in the rock wall of Queen Mary's garden.
The estate grows most of the foods necessary to feed the Royal family when they come for holiday in August.  There are extensive gardens as well as glass houses. The flowers are timed to be at their peak bloom during August.

Glass house full of flowers, both for bedding and cutting.

Rose arbor leading from Queen Mary's garden toward the path to the Castle.
The grounds have been reshaped over the years, starting with draining parts of the areas for use.  Trees, from all over the world were planted in the 1800's, are now huge specimens.  It is very pleasant to walk through and enjoy.

Coat of Arms on the castle.
You can take a day trip with one of the estate Rangers to see the outlying area. Also, Antiques Roadshow is coming to Balmoral on July 30th.  Although we are tempted, we won't be going; we have nothing to share!

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