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Tour Scotland, River Dee

Fly fishing on the River Dee Scotland

Fly fishing on the River Dee, Scotland. Photographic Print of Fly fishing on the River Dee from Robert Harding.

A notable river, the Dee rises deep in the heart of the Cairngorm mountains on the Braeriach plateau, some 4,000 feet above sea level in an area known as the Wells of Dee and it eventually reaches the sea at Aberdeen, some 87 miles from its source.

The so called wells are ice cold springs from whose accumulated waters the river originates and, after crossing the wastes of Braeriaeh, drops into the Garbh
Choire (the Rough Corrie) and the cleft separating Cairn Toul from the rest of the mountain range. The infant river
then runs south through Glen Dee, between the stern bulwarks of Sgor Mor and Beinn Bhrotain to join the Geldie
Burn and turn eastward towards distant Girdle Ness.
Running through the gorge of the Linn of Dee, the river flows past Morrone Hill to be joined by Quoieh Water before reaching Braemar. A sporting centre and the home of the famous Braemar Highland Gatherings, it stands a little to the south upon the Clunie Water which comes down to the Dee from the heights of Cairnwell. It was here, in 1715, that the Earl of Mar raised his Standard in
support of the Old Pretender. Traces remain of Kindrochit Castle, once a 14th century hunting lodge for King Robert I. Running eastward, the Dee passes through Royal Deeside”, which still retains vestiges of the elegant order of the pre-1914 world. Looming over the well kept forests and banks and splendid houses and gardens are the frowning bulks of the Lochnagar, Cairn Taggart and Fafernie peaks. On this bank of the Dee lies Invercauld House, described by one observer as a “granite-turreted
chaos”, and built in the 19th century.

River Dee at Balmoral Scotland

Queen Victoria of course loved and did much to popularise the Highlands. Situated on an outstanding position overlooking the river, Balmoral Castle was built to her specifications on the site of a former castle, long the residence of the Farquharsons and, before them, the
Gordons. The Prince Consort lent considerable weight to the plans of the re-designed castle which was built in
Scottish baronial style by William Smith of Aberdeen. The granite for its construction was quarried from the
Balmoral estate and is reputed to be the tinest such stone in Scotland. The whole estate encompasses some 24,000 acres and continues to be the personal property of the Crown.

The Dee below Balmoral adopts a winding and slow moving course until it reaches Ballater, where it once more increases in tempo. The Ballater bridge commemorates the fact that several structures which occupied this spot over the years did not survive the river’s unpredictable flow but the present structure has stood since 1885. The pleasant little town of Ballater nestles in a bend of the river, near the confluence of the Dee with the river Muick, with Craig Cailleach (the Hill of the Old Woman) and the dome-shaped Craigendarroch in the background. Known as the gateway to Royal Deeside,
it is a splendid centre for touring, climbing and walking. It has a golf course and the fishing is excellent.

Below Dinnet and beneath the frowning crags of the Forest of Birse, Braid Cairn, the Hill of Cat and
Mulnabracks, the Dee is joined by the Burn of Dinnet, said by some to mark the boundary point between Highlands and Lowlands. True or not, as the Dee flows on toward Aboyne the land opens out ahead, although the mountains are always there in the background both
north and south.

Aboyne’s Highland Games are held on an open space called the Green of Charleston. Historically the town itself only dates back to the 1880’s but Aboyne Castle is of 13th century origin and contains the Formaston Stone
of 800 A.D., which is a fragment of an elaborate Celtic cross. At Kincardine O’Neil there was once a ferry, this tiny village being at the northern end of the old road up through the Cairn O’Mount pass across the mountains into Glen Dye. Further east, at Banchory, is the entrance to the valley of the river Feugh, while, to the north, is
the Hill of Fare, an outrider of the distant Cairngorm peaks and only a few miles from the sea. Beyond Durris, the Dee forms part of the boundary between Kincardine and Aberdeen counties, being joined by the Gormack Burn at Peterculter, where a paper mill was established as long ago as 1751.

At Aberdeen the Dee reaches the North Sea, a splendid conclusion to its long voyage east from the mountains.
The ‘Granite City’ is Scotland’s third largest and its site is bounded by the Dee on the south and the Don to the north. Long established both as a premier fishing port and a holiday centre, Aberdeen is also an historic Royal burgh
and the commercial centre of the north-east.



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