Sometimes it is nice to hear from the experts why planning a visit to Aberdeen in the northeast of Scotland is a good idea. So we asked our guides...
Alex, where is your favourite place to visit?
Aberdeenshire is a very special and somewhat undiscovered area of Scotland, although my favourite place is extremely well known world-wide as it is, and has been, the destination for mere mortals and royals for more than 150 years – Royal Deeside. The glorious River Dee is hypnotic as it meanders through a patchwork of rich farming landscape, flowing past the majestic Castles of Drum and Crathes, passing by the towns of Banchory, Aboyne and the picture postcard royal town of Ballater enroute to Balmoral, always steeped in serene splendour whatever time of the season you visit.
Just before you arrive at Balmoral, you pass the Highlanders Bakehouse offering mouth-watering pastries and coffees and then you pass the iconic Crathes Church overlooking your arrival!
When in Royal Deeside you are embraced by the Scottish highland landscape, the diverse variety of flora and fauna, the changing colours created by the purple heather, gorse and woodlands inhabited with an amazing variety of wildlife from red deer, pheasants, red squirrels, ptarmigans and the odd highland coo or two!
The journey takes you back to a bygone era and history comes alive as you travel the same route that the Royal family have travelled for generations and will continue to travel for generations to come.
What makes Aberdeen special place?
Aberdeenshire (the land of the Northern Lights) is a very special part of Scotland, despite its tough winter climate and the generations of reliance on the farming and fishing industries, folk are extremely welcoming. With sometimes-dour persona and dry humour, you very quickly experience their warmth and hospitality – of course, a wee dram helps with that!
From the mountains to the sea, the area boosts such a wide variety of landscapes within a relatively small area, stunning scenery, and many areas are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) – such as the Cairngorms National Park, the extensive Balmedie Sand Dune ecosystem, the Ythan Estuary Nature reserve and the glorious River Dee, just to highlight a few.
That’s not to mention the fifty plus golf courses within the NE with Cruden Bay Golf course ranked at No 5 in Scotland.
The numerous Castles, the historic bridges trail, and full of Munros (peaks over 3000ft) with Lochnagar the best known Munro standing guard over Balmoral.
So, as they say in the northeast, “mony a mickle, maks a muckle” so come join us the more the merrier.
New guide, Jamie will have his first season with Grampian Escapes this year.
Jamie, where is your favourite place to be?
I’m a loon from a fisher town, and one that has travelled the length and breadth of Scotland. There is nowhere on Earth, where will you find a better fish supper, a haddock and chips, than in Peterhead.
So… I’m going to have to stick to what I know best. The fishing capital of Europe, nestled on Scotland’s most easterly point. The pink granite buildings, the impressively imposing breakwaters, the massive harbour and its rich history. It may be cold, it may be windy, but its home, and home is best.
What do you love about being a guide?
On one occasion (I was a coach driver at this time) we had a tour group from America up in Aberdeen, it was in March, and of course it snowed. Our original route was blocked by a 6 car pile up and their guide wasn’t up to speed with the area. So, this being my neck of the woods, I commandeered the tour, and took them North.
I took them to see the Buchanness Lighthouse, which looked gorgeous in the snow, told them about the Puffins at the Bullers and toured them around my home town of Peterhead. They had a whale of a time, and it was that moment that confirmed it, guiding is what I was meant to do!
Later on, we took them to Glasgow. They were unimpressed, and remarked they’d have rather had more time to explore Peterhead, which really made me proud of my home town. It truly is a unique place, with so much history. Being a guide is all about talking to people, teaching them about a new place, and making sure everyone enjoys themselves. But over the years my passengers have taught me just as much about their own homes and cultures, and that is my favourite bit.