7 Days in Aberdeen & Angus
Braemar Highland Gathering
The North East is one of the least visited corners of Scotland. This is so unfortunate as this fantastic region has plenty to offer holidaymakers. It’s beaches and mountains are star attractions and all without the bustling crowds that can affect more popular destinations. If the truth be told, you could easily spend a month taking in the best of the area but we have narrowed it down to just 7 days of highlights, enough for a perfect holiday week.
Head to the Beach
Balmedie is one of Scotland’s longest beaches stretching for 14 miles from the mouth of the River Ythan to the River Don at Aberdeen. The best place to access it is from the Balmedie Country Park where there is a cark park, picnic area and play park. Boardwalk paths lead through the sand dunes to the beach and apart from it being quiet and sheltered it is a brilliant spot for surfing.
Climb a Hill
The peaks of the eastern side of the Cairngorms provide some of the most accessible Munros in the country. Mt Keen near Ballater, in particular, is a brilliant adventure for those just starting out hillwalking and it is also known as ‘the mountain bikers Munro’ due to it being possible to ride almost all the way to the summit, and all the way down again. Inver Lodge is just a short drive (or easy bike ride) away and makes a great base for a group of outdoors enthusiasts to get together and have a week of adventures. There are dozens of mountains within striking distance suitable for all abilities and it is also extremely social with its own bar for evenings with a dram.
Attend a Highland Gathering
The most famous Highland games in the country (if not the world) is the Braemar Highland Gathering. Its reputation, long history and Royal patronage ensure massive crowds and an incredible atmosphere in the town for the whole weekend. There are amazing displays of traditional dancing, pipes and drums and spectator friendly sports such as tossing the caber. Drumrunie sits just on the edge of the town, a short walk to all the action and is available for a special 8 day let to take in the whole weekend so you won’t miss a thing.
Have a quiet Drive
The unprecedented success of the North Coast 500 has led to an increase in the idea of a driving holiday. For a gentler, quieter but just as spectacular alternative to the north, the roads of Aberdeen and Angus cannot be beaten. The recently inaugurated North East 250 is an attempt to join together some of the most spectacular bits of the area together into one coherent loop that will remind you of the simple pleasure of just motoring along for the sheer fun of it. Glen Cruick is located at the end of one of the Angus glens and the drive to get there will be one of your holiday highlights. Exploring by car in this area is incredibly rewarding with a large network of quiet back roads and rural villages to amble through. The emphasis here is on taking it easy and enjoying the scenery so relax and enjoy the journey for itself rather than hurrying to your destination.
Sporting opportunities abound regardless of what time of year you chose to visit. Donald Trump certainly has his critics but one thing is for sure, he does know his golf and his new course at Menie Estate just outside of Aberdeen is without doubt world class. Controversial and envy inducing in equal measure, the course is only one of dozens in the area to tempt you. Winter visitors can have fun at two of Scotland’s top snow-sport centres at The Lecht and Glenshee. The former is the best place to go for beginners, the latter has the most reliable conditions, often being the first ski centre in the country to open and the last to close every year. Newseat is fantastically quiet and rural but is still convenient for day trips to Aberdeen for golf as well as being just a few miles from the Nordic Ski Centre at Clashindarroch.
Visit a Castle
There are atmospheric, ruined castles a plenty to visit all-round the North east but one of the most perfectly preserved Baronial mansions you can visit is the royal holiday home, Balmoral Castle. Although the Queen’s private quarters are off limits you can investigate the grounds, gardens, exhibitions, gift shop and the Piper’s Hall Cafe. In addition the estate offers Landover safari tours and a host of special events throughout the summer season.
Eat & Drink Local
No visitor to this part of Scotland should leave without sampling some local delicacies. Cullen Skink is one of the most distinctive local dishes and a trip to the coast to sample it is highly recommended. It is a simple, hearty meal that nonetheless when prepared properly, with fresh local ingredients is absolutely world class. It was originally wholesome, soul food for fishermen and to make it a perfect taste of the north east try washing it down with a pint of Punk IPA from Brewdog, this Ellon brewery has taken on the world since its launch 10 years ago and is now one of the most recognisable Scottish beers. Special brewery tours are now available where you can taste beer fresh from the tanks, booking in advance is essential.