I am home for Scotland for the holidays and reminded once again despite all my travels that this is a top class part of the world. This weekend Mum, Grannie and I went away for a short break in an area I have summarised as Donside but expands to cover Deeside and Aberdeenshire. However you label it, from scenery to cafes to art this is an amazing area to visit and still pretty off the tourist routes.
Where to stay
Douneside House: An upmarket and very friendly hotel located in Tarland. The main house was completed in 1907 as a home for the MacRobert family. It is like a mini castle with stunning grounds. Lady MacRobert wished for the house to be a place of peace for visitors and I think that has been achieved. We stayed in the Casa 21 and 22 apartments which other than being very warm, were very good. They were well spaced, with a small kitchen, en-suite bathrooms and spacious seating areas. Casa 22 is wheelchair accessible. We had breakfast and dinner at the hotel, which is across in the main house. The staff were overall pretty faultless.
In terms of food overall it was very good, but not the best for vegetarians and a couple of options were slightly strange. Fantastic gin menu and nice touches in terms of canapes and petit fours. Mum and I also used the Health Centre gym one morning and I was impressed by its size. Although i think the staff were a little surprised to see anyone at 7:30am on Saturday.
Where to eat
Old Post Office Tearoom: As the name suggests this is in the old Chapel of Garioch Post Office. It is really cute both outside and inside. Their cakes really are exceptional as well (I would recommend the Victoria Sponge).
Goodbrand and Ross: Located in Corgarff, this large log cabin contains a a cafe and shop selling lots of Scottish gifts. It is on the more basic side, think toasties and soup. But they do what they do well and the staff are friendly. Plus you can get an oat milk latte. In slightly warmer weather they do a large ice cream selection too. And you are right in the Scottish countryside.
Spider on a Bicycle: One of my favourite places to go in Scotland, this has been a great addition to Aboyne. Lots of vegetarian and vegan options. Their breakfast, lunch and cakes are all fantastic.
What to do
Lost Gallery: Set in Glen Nochty, this will probably be the most remote gallery you ever visit. Turn off the road and up a track through the tress and hills and you’ll arrive. Showcasing a range of contemporary Scottish artists ranging from seascapes to some slightly more funky (and a bit odd) modern art.
‘The Watchers’: A view point and set of statues located off the road just up from Corgarff, Strathdon. This is such an Instagram dream. From quotes carved into the stone, to seats in the iron shapes to incredible views out across the Scottish Mountains. Just please don’t drop your rubbish. We had to do a litter clear up.
Walk around Tarland: There are several nice country strolls of varying lengths in beautiful countryside and nicely off road. The Visit Tarland website has very clearly explained and well mapped routes.
The Deeside Way: This pedestrian route stretches from Aberdeen to Ballater, much of it on the old Deeside Railway. We did a short segment by Dinnet, a lot of it such as this section, is wheelchair friendly (we took my Grannie in her chair). You very quickly get away from the noise of the road and there are some stunning old trees.
Not quite my home, but not far, I might live in England now but I think Scotland is the most beautiful country in the world. It is so much more than Edinburgh and the North 500. Deeside and Donside are full of natural and man made places of interest.
Visit Scotland: https://www.visitscotland.com/
Douneside House: https://www.dounesidehouse.co.uk/
Old Post Office Tearoom: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Tea-Room/Old-Post-Office-Tearoom-133217453408701/
Goodbard and Ross: https://www.facebook.com/goodbrandandross/
Spider on a Bicycle: https://www.spideronabicycle.com/
Lost Gallery: http://www.lostgallery.co.uk/
Visit Tarland (walks): http://www.tarland.org.uk/walking/
The Deeside Way: http://www.deesideway.org/