Celebrate the return of The Crown and live like the Queen for a weekend with a break in beautiful Balmoral


AS The Crown returns to our screens, make like Her Majesty in beautiful Balmoral, says writer Janice Hopper

From taking High Tea to exploring the great outdoors, it’s clear to see why this is the Queen’s favourite holiday destination.

Loch fantastic

Deeside is extraordinarily pretty, with soaring peaks and misty lochs galore

When the royals visit Deeside they avoid pomp and ceremony, so its time to pop on your headscarf and head for the great outdoors which is extraordinarily pretty, with soaring peaks and misty lochs galore.

Beauty spot Linn of Dee, where The River Dee drops into rock pools, was a favourite of Queen Victoria, or you could hike around the edge of the magnificent Loch Muick on the Balmoral Estate.

If you visit old Crathie Kirk, where the royals attend church, remember to look for the burial place of Queen Victorias loyal servant John Brown.

Take High Tea

Treats include cucumber sandwiches, pretty macarons and dinky blueberry and cream cheese tarts

It might not be quite as grand as tea with the Queen, but afternoon tea at The Carriage, 18, is still a sumptuous affair. This tearoom and bistro is housed in the Old Royal Station, used by the royals when they visited Balmoral by rail.

Treats include cucumber sandwiches, pretty macarons and dinky blueberry and cream cheese tarts.If youre feeling especially regal,add a glass of champers for an extra 7 (Thecarriageballater.co.uk).

Give it some welly!

Rooms at Banchory Lodge start from 99 a night B&B

Bed down at riverside Banchory Lodge, a charming bolthole a few miles drive from Drum Castle and Crathes Castle. Fancy a bracing walk by the River Dee? Grab a pair of wellies at the front door.

Rooms start from 99 a night B&B and some have four-poster beds (Banchorylodge.com).

Raise a royal toast

There’s just so much to see and do here

No trip to Scotland is complete without a wee dram. Head to the Royal Lochnagar Distillery in Crathie for a tour offering an insight into whisky production and a taste of the water of life, for 9 (malts.com).

Alternatively, visit the Freedom An Whisky Lounge of the Sandman Signature Hotel in Aberdeen, where you can sample 150 varieties (probably not all at once!) in a smart setting. Specialist tasting sessions start from 15 (Chopgrillbar.com/freedom-an-whisky-lounge).

Be Queen of the castle

Balmoral Castle has been a royal residence since 1852

Balmoral has served as the royal familys beloved summer retreat since Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1853. The good news is that us commoners can visit, too! Guided tours cost 15 and take in the game larder, ice house and ornate ballroom (Balmoralcastle.com).

Winter tours end on December 14, then the castle will reopen to the public on April 1, 2020.

Scoff whisky ice cream

The Rothesay Rooms can seat up to 40 people at any one time and offers a seasonal menu

Book a table at the Rothesay Rooms in Ballater, run by Prince Charles Princes Foundation and set up as a community project following the devastating floods of Storm Frank in 2015 (Rothesay-rooms.co.uk).

The restaurant prides itself on seasonal Scottish dishes, so look out for Balmoral venison with bramble jus, 28, and set yoghurt with local raspberries and whisky ice cream, 10.

With antlers bedecking bottle-green walls, flickering candles and furniture upholstered in Rothesay tartan, its a cosy spot for a meal.

Sip A Stag-ering Pint

Drop by The Fife Arms in Braemar, a hip new hotel in a former Victorian coaching inn. Expect tartan walls and artwork by Queen Victoria herself.

Head to the hotels pub for a pint of The Flying Stag, 3.80, and snap the taxidermy deer with the wings of a white-tailed ptarmigan (a species of grouse), flying proudly over the bar (Thefifearms.com).