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The Outsider’s Guide to…Aberdeen

Featured image by Allan Maciver

Not only is Aberdeen one of the UK’s most prosperous cities, but the Scottish oil capital is also blessed with a host of great attractions and landmarks, packaged up in naturally beautiful surroundings. What’s the best way to explore it all? Your own way of course. Pick up a car hire from Aberdeen Airport and set out on your journey of discovery around the Granite City region.

 

Village of Crovie

Perched on a narrow ledge at the base of the steep cliffs of the Banffshire Coast, Crovie Village (pronounced Crivie, for those looking to impress the locals) is recognised as being Europe’s best preserved fishing village. You’ll find it just over an hour’s drive north of Aberdeen, where a single track road slopes down the cliff side and leads you into the southern end of the village. From that point onwards however, it’s time to don your walking boots; the village is only accessible by foot and one narrow path separates the cottages from the rocky front of the North Sea. Be sure to hold on to your hats on a windy day, as the village front is often hit by fierce winds – in fact, it was nearly swept away by a freak storm in 1953 which prompted many locals to move elsewhere.

 

Image by Stu Smith
Image by Stu Smith

 

Today, several of the original structures serve as holiday homes and the village itself makes for a fascinating seaside stroll. The absence of streets, shops and…brace yourself…a mobile phone signal, will leave you feeling as if you’ve travelled back in time. But once you get used to the lack of modern conveniences, you’ll enjoy the fact there’s nothing to distract you from soaking up the peace and tranquillity of this unique fishing village.

 

Image by Fred The Bedhead
Image by Fred The Bedhead

 

Lunan Bay

Scotland’s climate may not always lend itself to a beach holiday, which is a crying shame given the large number of idyllic stretches of sand lining the coast. But when the sun does come out, few can match Lunan Bay, which has been attracting visitors since the 10th century when Viking armies first descended on the shoreline.

 

Image by Elaine
Image by Elaine

 

Hire a a car in Aberdeen and make the hour-long drive south to Lunan Bay where two miles of sand dunes await. And if you’re feeling especially brave, you could always dip your toes in the North Sea or join the countless surfers lying in wait of those big east-cast waves just offshore. Pack a picnic and pick a secluded spot amongst the sand dunes on one of Scotland’s most picturesque beaches.

 

Victorian Heritage Trail

The Royal Deeside and Donside regions have been favoured holiday destinations for the British Royal Family since the 1800s, with the Queen regularly spending time at the famous Balmoral Estate. The Victorian Heritage Trail is a great way for visitors to take in some of the historical buildings and locations frequented by the Royals over the years, many of which are located in some of Scotland’s most picturesque locations. The trail takes you through some of the North East’s most famous castles, quaint rural villages and, of course, the Queen’s Balmoral Estate.

 

Image by Bert Kaufmann
Image by Bert Kaufmann

 

As you’ll be following in the footsteps of royalty, afford yourself a bit of luxury with a Prestige hire car and travel the country roads in style.

 

Blue Door Walk

The charming village of Edzell can be found at the foot of the Grampian Mountains, less than an hour’s drive south of Aberdeen. Drive through the stone-built Dalhousie Arch at the village entrance and explore the atmospheric main street lined with centuries-old buildings, now serving as team rooms and shops.

 

Image by Shiro Kazan
Image by Shiro Kazan

 

The village and surrounding area also offers some downright marvellous walking terrain and for those wishing to stretch their legs, there’s no better place than the so-called ‘Blue Door Walk’, which starts just north of the village. As the name suggests, the entrance is marked by a quaint blue door which leads to a scenic walking route along the tree-lined river. This also doubles as a fishing hot spot, so keep your eyes peeled for leaping salmon.

 

Image by Stu Smith
Image by Stu Smith

 

As you reach the halfway point you’ll come across the ‘Rocks of Solitude’, where the riverbank rises and transforms into a miniature canyon. Keep your camera handy and you’ll be sure to return home with some top snaps of this cracking beauty spot.

 

Seafood feast in Stonehaven

At times you may find yourself cursing the North Sea for unleashing relentless gusts of wind onto the coast, but just remember those very waters also bring us some heavenly seafood. If you feel your belly rumbling after a long drive along the coast, swing by the town of Stonehaven and treat yourself to an award-winning feast at The Bay Fish and Chip Shop. Park up near the promenade and tuck into a portion of freshly caught battered haddock from the UK’s Best Fish & Chip Shop.

 

Image by Fiona Wilkinson
Image by Fiona Wilkinson

 

Alternatively, wander along to the lovely harbour area for a slap-up meal at The Tolbooth Restaurant, which also happens to specialise in dishing up fresh and tasty seafood delicacies. In fact, it’s regarded as one of Scotland’s finest seafood restaurants and places a strong emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy gorgeous coastal views and excellent food in the relaxed dining room before making the short half hour drive back to Aberdeen.

 

Image by Fred The Bedhead
Image by Fred The Bedhead

 

Ready to explore further? You might also like:

The Outsider’s Guide to Edinburgh

The Outsider’s Guide to Manchester

The Outsider’s Guide to Ireland

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