Queen Victoria most certainly would have been amused by a pair of hardy riders who went head-to-head in a penny farthing race around Balmoral Castle.
They got in the saddle to help launch an extension to a major trail in Queen Victoria’s beloved Scottish holiday destination on the eve of her great-great granddaughter’s Diamond Jubilee.
Sandy Lindsay, 64, of Inverurie, beat off competition from Alford-based penny farthing racer Donnie Fraser, 20, in a four-lap track of Balmoral on Monday (June 4).
The Victorian Heritage Trail aims to attract additional visitors to Deeside, which been the favourite holiday spot of the royal family since Victoria and Albert first visited Balmoral Estate in 1848.
As well as the iconic Balmoral, the trail now includes further spots known to be loved by Victoria and also places which have marked the Dee and Don valleys with a distinctive Victorian heritage. Highlights include the Royal Deeside Railway and Ballater Old Royal Station, which served the royal family and crowned heads of Europe on their journey to Balmoral until it was closed in 1966. Braemar, home of the Braemar Gathering which Queen Victoria originally patronised in 1848 when the Highland Games were held in the grounds of Braemar Castle, is also featured.
Organisers at the Royal Deeside and Cairngorms Destination Management Organisation (DMO) hope that the interest in the diamond jubilee will bring increased numbers of tourists to the area.
As well as a new website section (www.discoverroyaldeeside.com/VHT), tens of thousands of new leaflets have been printed and a media campaign begins this weekend.
“Generations of the Royal family have chosen the majestic scenery of the Dee and Don valleys as the backdrop to their own holiday retreat,” explained Claire Bruce, chairman of the Royal Deeside and The Cairngorms DMO. “The newly expanded Victorian Heritage Trail pinpoints not only places loved by Queen Victoria but also shows the lasting legacy of Victorian heritage which the area has thanks to Victoria and Albert’s mark of approval. It was Victoria, for example, who popularised the use of royal warrants to signify the quality of those chosen to supply the royal household. Ballater is said to have more royal warrants per head of population than anywhere else in the UK.
“It seems fitting to launch the trail in time to celebrate our Queen’s diamond jubilee, when Victoria is the only other monarch who has achieved this milestone in their reign.”