Aberdeenshire sits in the north-east corner of mainland Scotland. The present council area takes its name from the historic county of Aberdeenshire, which covered a smaller area than the current version. Modern Aberdeenshire covers 2,437 square miles (6,313 km2), and has a population of around 253,000.
The landscape of the area is diverse, ranging from the desolate and mountainous terrain of the Grampians in the south-west, to the low-lying coastal plains to the north and east. The area is largely rural, its largest settlements being the small towns of Peterhead and Fraserburgh. The city of Aberdeen itself has its own council area.
Cairnwell Pass, southern approach
Cairnwell Pass, northern approach, Glenshee Ski Area
The Cairnwell Pass is situated on the A93 between Braemar and Glen Shee. Its summit is 2199ft (670m) above sea-level, making it the highest public road in the UK. The route takes its name from The Cairnwell, a mountain situated immediately west of the pass.
Just to the north of the summit, is the Glen Shee Ski Centre, which is the largest winter sports complex in the UK. It provides ski-lifts and tows to the nearby mountains.
Balmoral Castle is a royal residency, with a large game estate and farmland covering some 50,000 acres (20,000 ha) of land along the Dee Valley. The castle became a royal residency in C19th, when purchase by Queen Victoria; as such they remain private property of the monarchy, as opposed to crown property.