My perfect short break…Royal Deeside

Almost anywhere unbeknown to my patients would count as a perfect short break. But a few days on Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire has to be near the top of my yearning curve.

Depending on the time of year, the area boasts spring or autumn colours, glorious summer views or a brittle winter. We particularly love the autumn when the fungi appear. There is little that beats a risotto of self-picked wild mushrooms, but if you’d rather eat out there are many excellent places.  

The Darroch Learg Hotel, has a restaurant in the conservatory with views of the mountains of Lochnagar. In my opinion, this is one of the finest restaurants, with one of the finest views in Scotland. For particular smugness, I recommend climbing Lochnagar before eating.  

It’s usually enough for me just to look at the views, but sometimes I cycle or climb a Munro or two. There are well-known golf courses in nearby Ballater, Aboyne and Banchory. Aberdeen is less than an hour away, as is skiing at Glenshee and the Lechd.  

It’s easy to get to this part of the world, with flights from all over Britain to Aberdeen, although the sleeper train from London is probably the most romantic way of arriving.  

Some years ago, we had a few days in Ballater and, as we returned to the cottage after dinner, the Northern sky was ablaze with the aurora borealis. We sat with the River Dee gurgling below us, the sky pulsing brick red,and Maria Callas singing Casta Diva on the stereo. Had death come knocking, I’d have gone quietly.  

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