Showing posts from September, 2011

Walk: Scolty sunset

Aberdeenshire | Banchory | Short walk | ★★★

Scolty's heathery slopes rise above woodland across the river from Banchory, topped with a 20 metre-high tower commemorating General William Burnett who fought alongside the Duke of Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars. Though the hill itself is only 300 metres high, slopes drop away on 3 sides towards the River Dee and Water of Feugh to give excellent views towards Clachnaben, Mount Battock, Morven and the Hill of Fare alongside other local summits. The Forestry Commission owns part of the hill but their waymarked trails don't reach the top - fortunately there are plenty of other paths, including the circular option below.

📌 Walk: Scolty sunset ★★★
Start / finish at car park off minor road 1 mi southwest of Banchory, G.R.: NO 687948 ///museum.fortress.quicksand

▶ 3 km / 2 mi | ▲ 190 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Scolty (299 m) | Features: General Burnett's Monument
Terrain: Good paths and tracks - quite steep on descent.

Route &am…

Echt stone circles

Aberdeenshire | Echt | Stone circles | ★★★

The rural B9119 road connects a trio of interesting stone circles in the general area of Echt village. All are recumbent stone circles - i.e. with a particularly massive stone lying on its side incorporated into the circle - but changing land use over the millennia since their construction means each setting is different. Cullerlie Stone Circle lies on open ground with cows watching on from adjacent fields. You'll find Sunhoney's circle in a clearing within a small circle of woodland. Midmar Stone Circle has ended up in the churchyard of an 18th century kirk.

Location & info

📌 Cullerlie Stone Circle★★
Description: Complicated stone circle comprising an outer ring enclosing several small cairns.
By minor road 1 mi south of Garlogie, G.R.: NJ 785043 ///defensive.hammer.headstone
Always open | Free

📌 Midmar Stone Circle ★★
Description: Recumbent stone circle within the graveyard of Midmar Church.
By minor road, just off B9119 3 mi west …

Aberdeen green spaces

Aberdeen City | Parks | ★★★

Picture Aberdeen and most people probably think of the grey buildings which give the place its nickname, Granite City. However, Scotland's third largest settlement has a number of colourful parks and gardens if you know where to look. Johnston Gardens is the smallest in the list below, but in our opinion the most beautiful. Right in the centre, Union Terrace Gardens doesn't make it onto the list but might be worth a stroll if you're nearby.

Location & info

📌 Duthie Park★★★
Description: Spacious park with scenic ponds and excellent winter gardens inside glasshouses.
Polmuir Road, 1 mi south of Aberdeen city centre, G.R.: NJ 941043 ///crowds.honest.remedy
Always open (Winter Gardens: daily) | Free

📌 Hazlehead Park★★★
Description: Aberdeen's biggest park (though probably not its most beautiful) on the outskirts of the city; gardens, petting zoo, maze and plenty of space to walk.
Hazlehead Avenue, 4 mi west of Aberdeen city centre, G.R.: NJ 892…

Walk: Kincorth Hill - Granite City back garden

Aberdeen City | Nigg | Short walk | ★★

Kincorth Hill forms the highest point on a broad ridge, rubbing up against Aberdeen's southern suburbs above the River Dee. The summit's hardly more than an insignificant swelling amongst scrubby gorse and broom, but offers decent views over the whole city and green contrast to its grey architecture. There's a dense network of paths from various access points, and the photos on this page were taken all over the hill, but the route outlined below makes a logical circuit with space to park at the start.

📌 Walk: Kincorth Hill - Granite City back garden ★★
Start / finish at car park on Nigg Way at junction with Abbotswell Crescent, Nigg, 2 mi south of Aberdeen city centre, G.R.: NJ 945031 ///game.delay.month

▶ 2 km / 1 mi | ▲ 50 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Summits: Kincorth Hill (105 m)
Terrain: Good, clear paths.

Route & map

Car park - Kincorth Hill by direct path - path junction at G.R.: NJ 937024 - north then northeast to start

Route credit: S…

Slains Castle

Aberdeenshire | Cruden Bay | Castle | ★★★

Slains Castle is the bare shell of a 16th century residence once belonging to the Earl of Errol. With plain-looking stonework, large windows and seemingly little by way of defence, it doesn't look like a stereotypical castle. Despite this, the windswept ruin oozes character, surrounded by spectacular coastal scenery (watch out for the cliffs). The spot seems to be rich in wildlife too - seabirds, seals and a fox have all been present on our visits. Enter with care (as the building isn't maintained) and you can explore a fair proportion of the ground floor, though exactly how much might depend on how much you like nettles. If you find the atmosphere somehow chilling, perhaps it's because Dracula's castle may have been dreamt up here: author Bram Stoker once stayed at Slains.

Location & info

📌 Slains Castle ★★★
Off A975 half a mile east of Cruden Bay, G.R.: NK 102361 ///
Always open, but access to interior may…


Aberdeen City | City | ★★★

Aberdeen - nickname: the Granite City. Famous (with good reason) for its oil, cold wind and incomprehensible accents, Scotland's 3rd largest settlement might not sound like a promising place to visit for the uninitiated. But on a sunny day, grey buildings transform to give the city its other name: "the silver city with the golden sands". Several parts of Aberdeen - Castlegate, Marischal College and Old Aberdeen to name a few - sparkle when blessed by blue skies, which are more common than you might think: this is one of the sunniest parts of the country. The main shopping district clusters around wide, traffic-choked Union Street and newer Union Square. The latter is adjacent to a bustling harbour adjoining the mouth of the River Dee. North from here is the jewel in Aberdeen's crown: a wonderful sandy beach, with the tiny fishing village of Footdee (pronounced Fittie) squeezed onto the neck of land in between. There's plenty to explore …


Aberdeenshire | Village | ★★

Surrounded by rough cliffs and unpredictable shifting sands, Collieston was established as a fishing village in the 15th century as one of the few safe harbours for miles around. After a successful centuries, fishing declined as business moved to Peterhead, leaving a peaceful village well worth looking around - mainly for the attractive location and coastal views. Walk south from here and you'll enter Forvie National Nature Reserve, with a sizeable seal colony at the southern end. This vast expanse of dune systems engulfed an entire village in the 1600s; only the church remains visible, long ruined and half submerged by the sand.


📌 Collieston ★★
Aberdeenshire, G.R.: NK 041286 ///nests.dairy.centrally

🚶 Collieston is the best village from which to access Forvie NNR on foot, and there are good (rough) coastal walks.
🚌 Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a public transport connection. Taxi from Newburgh or Ellon, perhaps?

See & do (&…

Whinnyfold beach

Aberdeenshire | Whinnyfold | Beach | ★★★

Sometimes the most unlikely spots spring lovely surprises. Whinnyfold village hardly looks worth a second thought on the map: a hamlet at the end of a series of country lanes, a fair distance from the much more appealing-looking Bay of Cruden to the north. All seems unremarkable as you approach, with just a few unassuming rows of houses - and if a couple of non-residents have beaten you to it, you might already have run out of options for parking. But a gravel footpath leading downhill gives the game away. Follow the path over the crest and a wonderful stony cove is revealed, with a wide pebbly beach, rocky headlands and a perfect secluded feel. And maybe just a splash of magic...

Location & info

📌 Whinnyfold beach ★★★
Immediately east of Whinnyfold village, G.R.: NK 082332 ///soggy.sparrows.icons

Anything else? Extremely limited parking either at the north end or towards the south end of the village (you arrive from the north). From the sout…

Buchan Ness

Aberdeenshire | Boddam | Headland | ★★

Buchan Ness is a rocky headland and tidal island just off the coast from the village of Boddam, a couple of miles south of Peterhead. You won't find the island or the village in many guide books, and there's not really anything to "do" here. But it's a lovely spot all the same, and worth a short detour if you're passing by on the A90 coast road. The village and quiet harbour are accessed by Station Road - which despite the humdrum (and now inaccurate) name is anything but boring: houses on either side of the street frame a perfect view out to The Skerry, a rocky islet a mile offshore. A picturesque lighthouse dominates Buchan Ness, connected to the mainland by a short bridge - and a shingle tombolo at low tide. Despite the Danger! signs, it's worth a wander around (with care) for two reasons: the views, and its status as a contender for being the most easterly point in mainland Scotland.

Location & info

📌 Buchan …

Cruden Bay

Aberdeenshire | Village | ★★

Once a popular seaside resort with hotels, golf course and good rail links, Cruden Bay was advertised a century ago as a "Brighton of the North". A bit ambitious perhaps, and today's quiet village has almost nothing in common with the south coast town. But, unlike Brighton, Cruden Bay has sand in abundance. This and most of the other scenic interest is reached by following the road towards the harbour; cross the footbridge over the Water of Cruden to access the excellent, two mile beach stretching south. In the opposite direction, dramatic sea cliffs and stacks take centre stage, with an excellent coast path leading past a couple of spectacular arches at Dunbuy and Bullers of Buchan. And throw in 16th century Slains Castle. This was quite possibly the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula: the author was a regular guest at the Kilmarnock Arms in the village, and his signature apparently appears in their 1894 guest book. Interesting stuff.…