One of the advantages of studying at RGU is having beautiful scenery on your doorstep. Aberdeenshire has an abundance of walking and hiking trails to explore that are as close as half an hour drive from the city of Aberdeen.
From dramatic castle ruins to deserted beaches and some wildlife watching, the North East of Scotland has it all! If you are looking for some spots to scout this weekend, here are some of our favourite Aberdeenshire walking and hiking trails:
It is said that Queen Victoria had many happy days here with her husband Prince Albert enjoying the captivating landscape of the loch and tranquillity of the surrounding area. She loved this place so much that after her husband’s death in 1868, she built the beautiful Glas-allt-Shiel lodge as a refuge hut to withdraw herself and mourn away from the public eye. The trail stretches for 7.75 miles and it takes about 3 hours to finish so make sure you have plenty of water and some light lunch packed with you.
This is quite a unique trail for many reasons: the hiking difficulty is gradual, there are ancient ruins along the way and the views on the top of the hill are breathtaking! There is also landscape diversity, from ferns and bushes at the start, to tall trees in the middle of the route, and then back to bushes at the rocky top. Once you get on top of the Clachnaben, it might get a bit windy so make sure you are well equipped with a wind-breaker jacket and a thermos filled with tea.
The unique shape of Bennachie has made it one of North East Scotland’s most recognisable landmarks and one that the locals love to visit! People lived here for thousands of years in a fort carved into the hilltop and on its rocky slopes. Ruins of their existence and activity can be found scattered along the area, making it an even more attractive place to explore!
There are three walking trails to follow here – the Discovery Trail that is a gentle walk through the forest; instead of,the Colony Trail with a moderate slope that leads to the ruined houses of the colonists; instead of, the famous Mither Tap with its magnificent views and impressive Pictish fort on the top. Whichever you choose to follow, you are most certainly going to love it!
Dunnottar Castle is the most enchanting of all Scottish coastal fortresses. Sitting on the edge of a gigantic cliff next to the sea, it is no surprise why the famous Italian producer, Franco Zeffirelli, chose this as the backdrop for filming his Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ movie with Mel Gibson!
Stonehaven is easy as pie to get to, about a twenty minutes train ride from the Aberdeen train station. Starting from Stonehaven harbour and following the well-marked pathway, you can enjoy the views of the sea and those of happy travellers walking down the beach. As you ascend towards the castle, you come to see the Stonehaven War Memorial, a symbol to remind the Scottish soldiers that fell during the battles of the First World War. From here, you are only 30 minutes away from the castle. The walk is pretty spectacular as the pathway takes you through poppy fields and along a coastal road with dramatic sea views. Worth every minute of the climb!
Exploring Haddo House is a favourite weekend activity. There is a strong resemblance between the 18th-century mansion and the Palace of Versailles tricking you into thinking that you have been instantly transferred to France. The coffee shop in the grounds has moreish hot chocolate and scones and there are loads of land for dogs to run around. It’s the ideal place to get away from Aberdeen but without breaking the bank!
Walk up until the hill, past the golden gates and cross the footbridge. Follow the path at the north end of the main lake and you will meet the most beautiful views of the calm waters. Rumour has it that Queen Victoria used to walk up until these golden gates on her walks when she stayed at Haddo in 1857. There are two large Wellingtonia trees in the garden planted by the Queen herself to, evidently, prove her time at Haddo House, still standing the grounds up until today! This is also the place where she was persuaded to purchase the Balmoral Estate, one of the most favourite residencies of the Royal family.
Have you ever visited any of these locations?
What’s your favourite Aberdeenshire walking and hiking trail to explore?
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