While living in Aberdeen city as a student it may seem quite difficult and require the most adventurous of spirits to venture beyond King Street and Union Street. However, from Union Square there are buses to Aberdeenshire, which has a lot to offer and explore just beyond the boundaries of Aberdeen and all within an hour of the city centre. All of these spots below are accessible by public transport, and we hope you will have an opportunity to visit when Covid-19 restrictions have eased. This is the first of two blogs looking at places of interest in Aberdeenshire.
Newburgh Seal Beach
Stagecoach Bus: 61 to Newburgh
Post code for SAT Nav: AB41 6BY
The path leading to the beach begins at Newburgh Inn and leads to a car park. Coming to the car park there are two paths. The one running along the golf course offers a sophisticated walk on a boardwalk which leads to a viewpoint with an information board showing a fantastic aerial view of the seals when they are lounging on the beach. It really showcases how many there are at the beach.
The other path cuts through the sand dunes and leads to the river estuary where the seals frolic, and a beach. The sand dunes are moving, making them a geographical point of interest and makes them unique every time you go.
Four points of interest to put on a checklist are the bright blue boat shed (popular for photographs), an overturned shipwreck (…admittedly more of a boat wreck), the seals and a bomb shelter.
If you follow the beach down the coast there are massive sand dunes, perfect for viewpoints of the beach and picnics at the top, or for pelting down them at full speed or jumping down (or watching others attempt to and wipe out on the way down). There is also an old bomb shelter which is quite eye-catching due to the graffiti and Scottish flag design local graffiti artists have adorned it with.
Dunnotar Castle, Stonehaven
Train from Aberdeen to Stonehaven
Stagecoach Bus: X7 to Dunnotar Junction
Postcode: AB39 2TL
A majestic castle you may recognised as it is one of the settings in the movie adaption of Hamlet with Mel Gibson. It is in close proximity to the spectacular Stonehaven War Memorial. No trip to Stonehaven is complete without a visit to Aunty Betty’s ice cream shop and The Bay fish and chip bar. The Carron fish and chip shop is the founding place of the quintessential Scottish delicacy, the deep fried Mars bar. This treasure has inspired further explorations in Scottish cuisine such as the deep fried pizza, deep fried kebab and the ultimate Scottish delight, deep fried haggis. In the summer months there is there is an open air swimming pool for those brave enough!
Haddo House, Prop of Ythsie and Tolquhon Castle
Stagecoach Bus: 291 to Tarves
Postcode: AB41 7GX
The quaint village of Tarves has a few cafes, an ancient, iconic petrol pump which is the heart of the town and a funny flowerpot farm man working a plough in summer. The focal point of the village is the heritage centre and Aberdeen Arms pub! Just 10 to 15 minutes by bike from Tarves are picturesque walks and grand monuments.
14 minute bike ride from Tarves
Postcode: AB41 7EQ
The house itself is very grand and is home to a contentious painting of the Madonna which may be by Raphael. Surrounding the house is an impeccable garden and the wider estate offers walks around the lake to a lovers’ bridge, with resident swans, and another walk to an urn monument framed by two stag statues, commemorating the death of the 4th Earl of Aberdeen’s family.
Prop of Ythsie
10 minute bike from Tarves
Postcode: AB41 7LS
A lesson was learnt in this expedition, not just in putting Prop of Ythsie into Google Maps. If you go down a tiny farm road, come to a cottage, dump your bike, ascend the hill to cut through two fields, a small woodland and jump three barbed wire fences to get to the prop, you have come to the wrong starting point! When I failed to find my way through the woodland back to my original starting position I was forced to use what was the correct walking path down to the designated car park. This was a sophisticated walk with gorgeous views; the biggest obstacle being opening a farm gate on the way down. No barbed wire fences to hurdle. (Luckily Mum is just a phone call away to pick up and locate stray bike which was on completely the opposite side of the hill.)
The prop is a very manageable walk (when using the correct path) and the tower is open to any visitor to go up the circular staircase to the top of the Prop for stunning views of the surrounding farm land and hills.
14 min bike ride from Tarves
Postcode: AB41 7LP
Tolquhon Castle is now only ruins. For a small fee students can visit for £6. Highlights include free roaming chickens which can be seen and held for free, who are neighbours to the castle (basically royalty). The last inhabitants of the castle can be visited at the medieval Tomb of Tarves in the village’s kirkyard and their pictures are inscribed on the side of the tombs in great detail.