Looking for a hidden gem in the North East? Applied Biomedical Science student, Lena Forsyth discusses a few of her favourite places to explore in Aberdeenshire.
There are so many places to explore in Aberdeenshire but let’s start on my front doorstep. Mintlaw is located about 30 miles north of Aberdeen, in the heart of the Aberdeenshire countryside. There are a range of walks and green spaces waiting to be explored, providing the perfect day out!
Aden Country Park, Aberdeenshire
Aden Country Park is one of many green spaces in Mintlaw, with 230 acres of land to explore. This historic Country Park has a mansion house ruin, Hareshowe Farm cottage and the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum, where you can learn about the local history. Over the years there have been archaeological digs in the park and the surrounding area investigating the ancient history of the area. This is my go-to place for a long walk in nature with an abundance of wildlife to spot including deer, a range of birds and elusive squirrels. There is also a fairy wood to explore! There are paths of various lengths through the woodland areas. The Café at Aden is open Wednesday to Sunday 10am – 4pm and serves a range of tasty treats in the courthouse, so you can refuel after a long walk. Aden is a hub for the community and normally has a full calendar of events throughout the year.
Pitfour Estate, Aberdeenshire
Another beautiful and historic place at the edge of Mintlaw just a short walk from Aden is The Pitfour Estate. With a history dating back to the 1700s, this is another great piece of countryside to walk around, with a man-made lake being the highlight. All of this creates a very picturesque and tranquil atmosphere. The last time I went for a walk there were more swans, geese, and ducks than people and depending on the time of year, you can see cygnets, goslings, and ducklings swimming around the lake. There is even an osprey nesting site, that can be observed from the path.
Aikey Brae Stone Circle, Aberdeenshire
A short drive from Mintlaw is Aikey Brae Stone Circle, another historic place linking the area back to ancient times. This place is full of mystery, and one of many stone circle in the area. Thought to have been built in the bronze age, with its purpose not fully understood. I always wonder how the people of the time were able to transport and arrange the stones on top of the hill, especially the recumbent stone which weighs approximately 21 tonnes! There is also a good walking trail around the area, with great views from the top of the hill where the stone circle is located.
Peterhead Prison Museum, Aberdeenshire
Peterhead Prison Museum is well worth a visit! Peterhead is the most easterly town on the Scottish mainland, as well as being the UK’s biggest fishing port. It’s a 45-minute drive from Aberdeen and a short drive from Mintlaw. This museum explores the 125-year history of the old HM Convict Prison Peterhead. You are provided with an audio set to listen to as you make your way through the building. This guides you as you learn about what the prison was like, stories of different prisoners and the riots of 1987, allowing you to gain an insight into “Scotland toughest jail”.
Other tops places to visit
Another great museum to visit is the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in the town of Fraserburgh, where the 1st Scottish mainland lighthouse, Kinnaird Head Castle, was built in 1787. Unfortunately, the museum and lighthouse are currently closed due to essential maintenance work, but when it reopens, I would recommend you go check it out. Whilst you’re in Fraserburgh why not take a stroll along the beach or get your surfboard out and catch a wave. The coastline around Aberdeenshire is also a stunning place to explore, with some lovely small coastal villages such as Pennan to visit. On the coast between Fraserburgh and Peterhead is the Loch of Strathbeg, an RSPB wildlife reserve of international importance and the UK’s largest dune loch. Take your binoculars and see what birds you can spot from the hides surrounding the reserve.
As you can tell this small corner of Scotland has a lot on offer and there are many more places to explore. Hope this has given you some ideas of places to explore in Aberdeenshire.
Where is your favourite place to visit in Aberdeenshire? Put your suggestions in the comments down below!