MEMBERS of the public are to be given a rare chance this weekend to step inside a remote cottage once used for picnics by the Queen Mother on Royal Deeside.
The “Queen Mother’s Picnic Cottage” forms part of the small “ferm toun” settlement of Auchtaven at the head of Glen Fearder, six miles North east of Braemar.
Five years ago two of the remaining buildings in the settlement - the ruined “hingin lum” cottage and the horsemill - were acquired by Braemar Community Ltd and restored in a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and the Cairngorms Leader Fund.
The community organisation then acquired the Victorian cottage used by the Queen Mother for picnics with other members of the Royal Family, three years ago. And on Sunday the three buildings will be open to the public.
A spokeswoman for Braemar Community Ltd said: “Auchtavan can be visited at any time and the Horsemill is always open but this Sunday the Queen Mother’s cottage will also be on view “
She explained: “The cottage on the site was the residence of the last farmer at Auchtavan and with its stunning outlook across the valley towards Lochanagar, was subsequently use by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as a Picnic Cottage.
“The settlement at Auchtavan is a rare survival of a traditional Highland clachan or ferm toun. Small communities like these were home to countless generations in the centuries before the Industrial Revolution. Most of these settlements have disappeared and their houses are now only a scatter of stones but at Auchtavan the hingin lum cottage and horsemill still stand high on the mountainside above the River Dee, both restored and saved in 2008 by Braemar Community Ltd. Auchtavan represents a way of life that is now long gone.
“Finally abandoned at the end of the 19th century, the ruined hingin lum cottage and horsemill have been restored and will be open from noon until 3pm.”