Garioch and Formartine
This is the second in a series of post about Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire.
Centred roughly on Inverurie and extending to Old Meldrum, home of the Glen Garioch Distrillery, further east to the major attractions of Haddo House and Pitmedden Gardens and over to the attractive town of Kenmay, home to a significant granite quarry. (It’s very pretty, slightly pink granite.)
This is rich farmland with substantial agricultural based enterprise such as Mackies at Westertown, famous for ice cream, crisps and now chcololate. (you can spot it on the Oldmeldrum-Colpy road by the three wind turbines on hill hill behind). There is a lovely strawberry farm, Barra Berries (on the Oldmeldrum-Inverurie road) with farm shop/coffee shop. Our slightly cooler climate means the berries grow slowly and develop a deep flavouring our love g summer days. And just near where I say is The Store at Foveran which specialises in 35 day hung Aberdeen Angus but has recently acquired some Highlands (good café and a wide selection of other local foods too).
The area has been settled a long time with remains of Pictish forts at the top of the local landmark hill Bennachie and at Rhynie. The most famous Pictish sculptured stone is The Maiden, just off the A96 west of Inverurie (covered over in winter) but there are a fine selection with the famous Rhynie man kept in the Aberdeenshire Council HQ in the city (I know – nothing about that makes sense) and more stones at the Marishall College Museum (sadly not currently open to the public). You can puzzle over the stone in the Kintore kirkyard and the selection in the Inverurie graveyard (and climb the motte) as well as the rather fine Brandsbutt stone marooned in the Inverurie suburbs. See the Pictish Stones Trail for more.
The ruined Kinkell Kirk outside Inverurie has the most interesting graveslab : a knight from the Battle of Harlaw (1412). The Kirk is said to have belonged to the Knights of Jerusalem and unusually the slab appears to have been reused at a later date – simply turned over and re cut.
And while we are on the subject of Trails, there are loads of Stone Circles, including recumbent ones peculiar to the north east of Scotland. I’m rather fond of the grand Easter Acquorthies one outside Inverurie and the highly evocative one at Daviot.
There are more castles than you can shake a stick at With just a few mentioned in the Trails leaflet. Fyvie Castle is very pretty but I prefer the ruin of Tolqhuon just by Tarves. While in the area climb the Prop of Ythsie to get views across the countryside and pop into the delightful Tarves Heritage Centre – but behave else they’ll get out the tawse. Huntly was the stronghold of the Gordon’s and this pleasant market town is worth a visit – and not just for the Dean’s shortbread factory.
Haddo House and Pitmedden Gardens with its Museum of Farming Life make a good day. Haddo is a NTS property surrounded by its policies, now run as a country park by the local council. It popular with dog walkers, those wanting to watch red squirrels and simply those wanting a pleasant walk. Pitmedden Gardens were originally laid out in 1675 with the modern gardens based on 17th century plans for Holyrood House of the period.
Fyvie has an almost perfect castle, the Church has a Pictish Stone built into its wall and a wonderful Tiffany glass window and the nearby Gight Wood showcases the river Ythan and a rare remnant of ancient woodland. Pictish stones built into Kirks and stones from Circles incorporated into kirkyard walls aren’t uncommon.
And for those wanting to get out on a bike or a long distance walk, the Formartine and Buchan Way runs on the bed of an closed railway like out from Dyce on the edge of Aberdeen to Newmachar and Pitmedden and onto Peterhead, Fraserburgh and eventually connects to the Moray Coast.
Towns and villages
Craft and Galleries Map
Walking the coast