Things to do
Interesting places to go and things to do from Ardo.
Ardo is situated in rural wooded farmland 10 miles north of Aberdeen but within a thirty-mile radius there is a remarkable variety of towns, cities, beaches and history to explore.
There is the city of Aberdeen to the south, with the well-publicised trails of Castles, and Whisky distilleries.
There are the long sandy beaches and rocky coastline of Aberdeenshire. 20 miles to the west there is the Bennachie range of hills stretching over from the Grampians. Fishing communities are to the north. Further afield there is Inverness and Spey side with the winter resort of Aviemore at the source of the Spey and down to the coast at Focabers. There you will find the family friendly Baxters factory and visitors centre. (Yes jam).
In the following list using our own experience we have gathered together a few options for day trips.
Travelling North: Fyvie Castle is a ‘full-on’ restored castle with all the accompanying touristy features, large car parks, food, toilets etc.
Should you prefer something less formal try Delgatie Castle near Turriff. www.delgatiecastle.com
For something even wilder try the ruined Finlater castle on the north coast. There is a stunning natural steep walk down the cliffs to Sunnyside bay. In spring you will sea birds nesting and rare wild flowers. If you are sprightly you can continue the walk along the coast to Cullen. Cullen is a medium sized fishing town that has teashops and several intriguing antique shops.
Nearby Portsoy is small but it has the most charming harbour outside of Cornwall with a cosy cafe and the interesting Portsoy Pottery and Marble shop next to it. (The Lonely Planet Guide rates it 68th best thing to do in Aberdeenshire) There is limited parking down by the harbour so park up in the main town and walk down.
If you enjoy bird watching there is a swirling gannet and gull cliff experience at Troup Head. (Park and walk some distance.) www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/t/trouphead/
There is the chance to see wetland birds at the R.S.P.B. Centre at Strathbeg. There is a nice visitor centre there with the chance to look through strong binoculars at the birds. www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/lochofstrathbeg/
The Glen Garioch Distillery, www.glengarioch.com/ at Oldmeldrum is open in the summer for trips around the Whisky making mysteries, with a dram at the end. Allow a couple of hours. Garioch is pronounced (Geery).
Then aim for climbing Mither Tap on the Bennachie range of hills. www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-89CF8Y
There are panoramic views of the Garioch and north coast that are all the better with a sandwich in your hand.
If you are brave, walk up the hill ‘Tap ‘o Noth’ at Ryhnie. Active families can manage either walk and they are well signposted. The routes to Mither Tap on Bennachie are especially popular on Sundays with families. They are both hill walks with rocky summits with views. In the case of Tap o’ Noth the summit is a vitrified fort. www.walkhighlands.co.uk › … › Huntly, Alford and Inverurie
Extremely interesting for geography teachers, who can tell the children that the rocks at the summit were built into walls including wood which was then surrounded by more wood and set alight. The rocks fused together making a very efficient fortress. www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIoYZLZySzI
If you enjoyed Tap ‘o Noth I could mention that Prehistoric recumbent stone circles are common in Aberdeenshire. www.mcjazz.f2s.com/StoneCircles.htm
Inverurie is a nice old market town that now has Tescos and on it’s outskirts there is the huge farm auction complex that serves Aberdeenshire. www.anmgroup.co.uk The market moved out of Aberdeen in the 90s. As well as the usual animal and farm equipment sales it has a big car boot sale with market stalls on a Sunday. On week days join in with the ambiance and watch the auction and have an authentic farmers lunch at the Restaurant there.
Just inside the entrance there is a large painting by local artist Kate Downie, www.katedownie.com of flat-capped farmers from the old market before it closed.
Travelling South: Aberdeen… what to say about Aberdeen? When the Oil industry began to take over the harbour in the seventies with its supply boats the fishing industry moved up to Peterhead.
Since then the city has changed into an Oil Capital with Dyce airport being a heliport for servicing the Oil Rigs. Helicopters have got bigger over the years and they have been responsible for transporting all the all workers. They take 19 people out to the rigs, 65 to 300 nautical miles out into the North Sea. They usually stay for 2 weeks and then have 3 weeks off. You will see helicopters from the three companies operating from Dyce flying over the house.
Aberdeen has all the usual big shops and the new complex Union Square between the harbour and the station is great for eating and shopping. The Art Gallery www.aagm.co.uk/ is a good one and the Maritime Museum is educational with its model Oil Rig.
There is a good Park and Ride service from Bridge of Don.
If you like history visit Old Aberdeen with it’s historic University Campus and striking new blue glass cube library http://www.abdn.ac.uk/library/about/main/ . It is a public friendly space and with a visitors pass you can go to the top of the new library and see the panoramic view, or go downstairs to see the special collections.
The old granite streets are a delight and there is a walk up the river Don from the beach. http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/web/files/LocalHistory/old_aberdeen_trail. A good place for lunch with vegetarian options on the beach front near the big cinemas and amusement park is The Sand Dollar www.sanddollarcafe.com/
Travelling East: Balmedie beach has a tourist information centre and children’s playground with access to the 17-mile stretch of beach stretching from Aberdeen to the mouth of the Ythan River. Up the coast at Newburgh there is a colony of seals that loll on the protected side of the estuary. Bird watchers will enjoy the sea birds. Eider ducks exchange gossipy “who is whose?” calls across the water. Cruden Bay is a beach with harbour and ice creams and has a links golf course. A short walk will take you to the ruined castle of Slains – (park and short walk to steep cliffs that are dangerous for children.) The ruins inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula when he stayed here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whinnyfold A longer walk will take you to the village of Forvie, which was buried by the sand long ago. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sands_of_Forvie
When you are short of excitement return to the Beach of Balmedie. Enjoy damming the stream, well, encourage the children to and pretend you are helping them. Then marvel at the fact that the first Scottish baseline was measured here in 1817 for the Ordnance Survey mapping project. A five-mile stretch of completely flat land was necessary to begin the complicated measurements. Standing on the dunes and pointing would be the perfect moment to explain trigonometry to the children, trust me. http://www.ridgewayfriends.org.uk/baseline.html