92) Balmoral loop, Crathie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

We were staying at the Crathie Opportunity Holidays properties, self contained accessible cottages, that cater for all abilities. The have amazing facilities inc full wet rooms, profiling beds, hoists and tilt/life armchairs.

This route can be done from Crathie Opportunity Holidays if you are a guest, or from the public car park outside the Balmoral Estate. 

Route:
From the carpark head out and on the path of the A93, its wide enough but take care, I headed across the busy at times main road (A93) and up the hill to visit Crathie Kirk (church). A chapel that is quite famous as being used by the royal family when they are at the Balmoral Estate.
After visiting the church I head down the lane, back across the A93 and down the lane that is on the left of the Hexagon visitor centre in the carpark.  Follow this well made lane and soon you come to the Manse and Crathie Opportunity Holidays buildings. Facing down the drive of the complex you have a graveyard on your left and right. Do take time to visit the graveyard on your left via the gate. Here you will find the grave of John Brown, a loyal aid and servant of Queen Victoria, their story was made into a film staring Billy Connely and Dame Judy Dench. Looking at the Masne itself you will notice if you look as you enter the graveyard that the upper glass  of one window is obscured glass. Queen Victoria wanted to visit John Brown's grave and have privacy - so ordered the church to change the glass.

When you leave the graveyard via the gate come back to the lilt lane and turn right, the Manse house will be on your right. Follow this lane and you will come to a junction, turn right and then to a white suspension bridge over the river Dee. There is a gate either side so you may need help to get through them. You get a great view of the Dee from the bridge. Go out the end gate and turn right. Take care as traffic can travel quick on this road, a reason why I always wear something brightly coloured. For a large distance there is not a path. Keep heading forwards and eventually you arrive at the gatehouse and gates of the Balmoral Estate. At certain times of the year you can enter the grounds of Balmoral and visit the cafe and grounds. From the gatehouse and gates follow the road back over the river Dee. You cross a metal green road bridge that was commissioned by the royal family, and build / designed by Burnell. After the bridge head back to where you parked - or back to Crathie.

Terrain:
path, tarmac road, track, no steps but there are two gates - wide for mobility equipment but awkward on your own.

Facilites on site:
N/a if stopping as a guest of Crathie Opportunity Holidays as you have all you need there.
If visiting - good parking outside the Balmoral Estate. Toilets are provided at the hexagon visitor centre.
There is an excellent couple of cafe's a few hundred metres on the A93 as you head to Ballater. An artisan bakery, and the Tarmachan cafe, both on your left. The Tarmachan cafe has a disabled toilet. Both do amazing food...

Always keep an eye out for red squirrels, deer, heron, some lovely highland cattle are usually in the field as you approach Balmoral Estate. At dusk look for bats flying. - hunting around the tree's.