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Living in Ballater: the local area guide
Ballater is a lovely village and burgh in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The village lies just east of the Cairngorm mountains, within the national park and alongside the River Dee. Aberdeen is 43 miles or so to the east, and the gorgeous Balmoral Castle, the Scottish seat of the royal family, is only eight miles away. The area’s expansive natural beauty draws hikers, ramblers and outdoor enthusiasts from all over, and sports such as golf, cycling and fishing are popular here.
Many buildings in Ballater date back to the Victorian era, and the village was once renowned for its healing spring waters that were thought to cure scrofula. Today, Ballater thrives with Scottish charm, warmth and hospitality, and its beautiful location makes it a popular countryside escape. Housing properties in the village range from upmarket homes to affordable rentals, and the village is well serviced by local schools and an excellent range of shops and amenities.
At the time the Census of 2011 was conducted, there were 1,533 people recorded as living in Ballater. This figure represents a population growth of roughly 100 people in the 10 years since the previous Census was conducted in 2001. These 1,533 people are divided into 734 households, the majority of which reside in unshared, detached homes.
In comparison to national figures, homeownership rates in Ballater are around average. Roughly 64% of households in the village own their property, compared to 62% of people throughout Scotland.
There are a number of good schools in both Ballater and the surrounding area. Ballater itself is home to Ballater Primary School, while the smaller Braemar and Crathie Schools are in settlements a couple of miles away.
Ballater Primary has a pupilage of 108 and offers the typical, broad-based, curriculum of state-funded schools. In terms of pupil achievement, 90% of students were shown to be performing well or very well in reading at the P7 level. In terms of numeracy, 66% of pupils at the P7 level were recorded as performing well or very well.
The closest secondary school to Ballater is Aboyne Academy, which serves Aboyne and its surrounding villages. The academy accommodates 658 pupils and is roughly 16 minutes by car from Ballater.
Public transport in Ballater is relatively limited, but this should be expected in a small countryside village. A number of buses serve the village, transporting residents to settlements in the surrounding area including Braemar, Crathes and Aberdeen. There is also a regular service to Balmoral Castle.
Owing to the rather limited nature of public transport in Ballater, those who choose to relocate to the village will most likely find that a car of their own comes in handy. The village sits alongside the A939 road, which travels through to the city of Aberdeen in the east.
Amenities and shopping
Though a fairly small village, Ballater has a great range of specialised shops. Atholl Countrywear and McEwens of Perth specialise in upmarket men’s and women’s clothing. Moira Melrose, who is based in nearby Aboyne, is a world-renowned kilt maker, who has produced kilts for Princes William and Harry.
Several shops market traditional Scottish arts and crafts, including custom-made needlework, photos and prints by Celicall Crafts. For those seeking some vintage literature, take your time to explore Deeside Books – which specialises in second-hand and out-of-print books!
There are a number of shops and cafes which offer local produce and goods, including Deeside Deli & Garden, which is known for its fresh produce, fine wines and Scottish cheeses and beers. Riverside Cottage is well loved for its artisan Crannach bread and homemade cakes.
Dining options in Ballater are plentiful and include traditional Scottish food, classic pub fare, Indian and Italian. There is also a wide range of takeaways, cafes and bistros serving traditional Scottish breads and cakes.
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