History of the wells

The waters have flowed from the ancient springs on Pannanich Hill for thousands of years, but the earliest records were made around 1245 by the Knights Templar - the Kings Bodyguards who are reported to have sampled the waters on their journeys through the Deeside Valley.

Around 1760, the spa waters became widely publicised when a local woman, Isabella Michie, who suffered from scrofula, (a fatal condition of the time), was led to Pannanich Wells and was completely cured, by bathing in and drinking the water.

At this time, Francis Farquharson, Laird of Monaltrie, a well to do local Lord, heard of the waters great powers. He had the foresight to build the Inn and bath houses for visitors and the granite monuments at the springs from where the waters flow to this day.

Word quickly spread about the curative waters and after many successes, visitors from near and far, the rich and poor all descended upon the area to taste and bathe in the "miracle waters" and the nearby village of Ballater grew up as a spa town to accommodate them.

Adverts appeared in the Aberdeen Journal in the 1790s, placed by a local surgeon - Jonathan Troup, who was in attendance at Pannanich Wells each week. He had devised appropriate doses of water to be taken and also recommended the best methods of bathing to treat skin complaints.

In 1843 James Brown wrote, "These Wells (Pannanich) ...Here at all times but more especially in summer, is a most immense concourse of people, from all parts of the country, afflicted with all manner of diseases, so that it may almost be compared to the “Pool of Siloam”. People afflicted with rheumatism - people in a consumption - rickety bairns....people ill in the typhus, scarlet and other fevers, all flock here to drink the waters in whose efficacy they have great faith."


Many famous historical figures enjoyed the waters including Lord Byron, who visited as a small child with his mother around 1795 and apparently returned in later life.

Sir Walter Scott was there in 1822 and John Brown, who was to become Queen Victoria's famous Highland Gamekeeper, apparently worked in the existing stable block in the mid 1800s.

Queen Victoria herself visited and drank the waters around 1856 and wrote of them in her Highland Journals in 1870. She returned several times with other noble guests in her party, from nearby Balmoral Castle and they always drank the waters when they visited.

Wilfred Aitken is pictured in his pram with his mother in 1899 and revisited the site aged 91 in 1990. The waters can be clearly seen running from the Well in the old photograph.

The waters can be clearly seen running from the Well in the old photograph. For over 100 years people flocked to take the healing waters, but the advent of modern medicine led to a decline in the popularity of curative springs around the UK and as attitudes changed, the number of visitors fell.

The remote Pannanich Wells were forgotten, but the waters still flowed.

The springs were rebuilt in 1987 and the old inn upgraded, but it was not until 1996 that Deeside Mineral Water was started, with the aim of making the special water widely available to health seekers once again.

As Dr John Ogilvie wrote in 1795 :

I've seen the sick to health return,  
I've seen the sad forget to mourn,  
I've seen the lame their crutches burn,
And loup and fling at Pannanich.
I've seen the auld seem young and frisky,
Without the aid of ale or whisky,
I've seen the dullest hearts grow brisky,
At blithesome, helpful Pannanich