The following article was featured in my latest issue of On The Wing magazine, which you can read here. I often see Aberdeen unfairly shrugged off as simply ‘The Granite City’. As with many urban places, there’s so much more to Aberdeen than grey buildings. Here are six of my favourite spots for nature enthusiasts to explore.
With its deep rocky dells and hip-high bracken, this is what I call a Jurassic forest because it doesn’t take much imagination to picture a dinosaur poking above the foliage. Beeches, birches and rowans line interweaving trails – look out for a Neolithic cairn and a stone monument hidden among the trees.
Like in all good parks, kids and dogs have open space to run around, but away from the play park area you can sit in a variety of gardens and hear nothing but birdsong. You can also explore Robert the Bruce stone cairns, a sculpture trail and Scotland’s oldest maze here.
Hazlehead Avenue, AB15 8BE
David Welch Winter Gardens
Within Duthie Park, this warren of greenhouses contains tropical flowers, roses, ferns and a squadron of carnivorous plants. I spent an unholy amount of time in the Arid House, where there’s every sort of cactus you could imagine. With more than 750 species, this collection is one of the largest in the UK.
Polmuir Road, AB11 7TH
Open: daily all year round
This small headland forms a curved dell just past Aberdeen’s harbour. A range of seabirds gather in the shallows by the rocks and it’s a great spot to see bottlenose dolphins too. Watch in cosy comfort from the excellent Liberty Café, located within the historic structure of Torry Battery.
Greyhope Road, AB11 8QX
Sitting beside a dangling loop of the River Don, this is the largest green space in Old Aberdeen. Splashes of colour from dramatic flowerbeds, a high quality river footpath leading to a pedestrianised arched bridge, and several concealed features of historical interest make this more intriguing than your average park.
Don Street, AB24 1XS
University of Aberdeen Zoology Museum
Scales and fur and feathers oh my! The lower gallery’s skeletons draw the eye first, but also make sure to check out minuscule amphibian bones, corals and a troupe of fish you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley. The upper gallery is an ornithologist’s delight, featuring everything from goldcrests to golden eagles.
Tillydrone Avenue, AB24 2TZ
Open: 10.00–16.00 Mon–Fri
All of these fab spots are featured in my upcoming Slow Travel Guide to North East Scotland: Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Cairngorms National Park. This will be published by Bradt Travel Guides in May.