Aberdeen // 10 Walks in the City

Very much inspired by both Christy at Dinner Stories' post '25 Most Picturesque Walks in Aberdeenshire' and the Covid lockdowns of 2020, I set out to discover and share my top ten walking routes within the city of Aberdeen. 

We're very lucky here in Aberdeen in the variety of places we have to explore without leaving the city's bounds: from historical architecture to modern day street art; from parks and green spaces, to rivers and sprawling beaches. These walks take in a mixture of all those things and more, spread out across the length and breadth of the city. I've included a little map with each walk by way of  rough illustration, but take them only as a starting point and get out and explore.

10 Walks in the City of Aberdeen.. 

1. Grandholm and Seaton Park 

Starting on Grandholm Drive (where there is free on-street parking), this route begins with a short walk through Grandholm Gardens to the impressive 'Mother Earth' sculpture, created by Andy Scott of 'Kelpies' fame. From there it leads over Grandholm and Diamond bridges and heads into Seaton Park, within which you find the towers of St Machar Cathedral and plenty of green space and walled gardens to explore. To finish on a circuitous route, the path of the river Don leads through the park, over a wooden board walk, taking in the street art and community garden at Donside Village, as well as the Donside community hydro. Crossing back over the bridge and returning through Grandholm, you'll find the waters of the old Mill still flowing in the middle of the estate. 


2. Fittie and the Beach Esplanade

Starting at the South end of Aberdeen beach, this route takes in the sandy shoreline and historic fishing village of Fittie (Footdee) - with its cute cottages and decorated sheds - before doubling back along the esplanade towards the art deco Beach Ballroom. If you're feeling energetic the short, sharp walk up Broad Hill is rewarded with a beautiful coastal panorama. 


3. Duthie Park and the Deeside Way 

Duthie Park is a nice place for a walk in and of itself and a good location - with its wide open space, play park and cafe - for any children to let off steam. Its location along the Deeside Way, however, makes it a great starting point for a slightly lengthier walk, with the potential to walk all the way to Ballater if we were allowed out of the city! I like to follow the old railway line as far as Garthdee, cutting through RGU's campus to return along the banks of the River Dee. 


4. Kincorth Hill

Part of the Grampian Mountains (aka 'The Gramps'), Kincorth Hill lies on the South side of the city, offering up a trail of connecting paths through woodland and green open space. For only reaching 102.6m in height, the views from the top are pretty impressive, encompassing the whole city and beyond on a good day. 

The nearby Tullos Hill - another in the Grampian Mountains range - is home to a series of Bronze Age burial cairns and is also good for a walk. 


5. Hazlehead Park

Over in the West of the city, Hazlehead is a popular park and garden that is home to two golf courses, a Pets Corner, a hedge maze, cafe, play-park and the Piper Alpha Memorial and Queen Mother rose gardens. There is plenty to explore within the grounds themselves, but a longer walk can be had by venturing onto the periphery route along Hazledene Road, Craigiebuckler Avenue and Hazlehead Avenue. 

If you're in the vicinity, Johnston Gardens are just a ten minute drive away and are another picturesque place to explore. 


6. Donmouth and the Brig o' Balgownie

I have to confess that, for all the years I've lived in and around Aberdeen, it was only this year that I first explored the beach to the North of the River Don. I've since discovered it's a beautiful stretch of sandy shore - less developed than the beach on the opposite side - and a great starting point for an out-and-back walk. Carrying on along Donmouth Road you can take in the views of Donmouth Nature Reserve - home to seals, heron, swans and otters - and eventually the 13th century Brig O'Balgownie and the cobbled neighbourhood that surrounds it. 


7. Torry Battery and Girdleness Lighthouse 

Once an artillery battery with guns that were operational during both World Wars, Torry Battery is better known today for its dolphin-spotting potential. Overlooking the entrance to Aberdeen Harbour, its a prime spot for catching a glimpse of playful bottlenose dolphins. 

Marine life or not, the walk around the coast to Girdleness lighthouse is a pleasant one and the beach itself tends to be relatively quiet, with calm swells that are perfect for paddling. 

While there, why not visit the Greyhope Bay Centre for a coffee and a spot of dolphin-watching?


8. Old Aberdeen 

A leisurely, meandering walk through the cobbled streets of Aberdeen's oldest parts, this area encompasses the campus of Aberdeen University, including the beautiful Cruickshank Botanic Gardens and a number of fascinating historical buildings, such as King's College Chapel and the Turkish-style minarets of Powis Gates. Inside the buildings students are making all sorts of new discoveries, but walking the streets feels like a step back in time. 

The university website has a  Heritage Trail Map which gives a little more insight into the buildings' history. 


9. The Nuart Trail 

Over the last few years, Aberdeen has hosted an annual street-art festival known as Nuart, inviting gifted artists from across the globe to leave their stamp on our streets. This city centre walk takes in the majority of these creations, from Phlegm's standalone piece at Holburn junction, to the scattering of works hidden on Jopp's Lane. The Nuart website has a handy map of its own for better location and identification of the pieces. 


10. Woodside and Danestone

Starting at the pretty and peaceful Persley Walled Gardens, both the Woodside and Danestone sides of the Don's banks offer up some beautiful woodland walks along clearly defined paths. The Woodside trail can be followed all the way to Grandholm Bridge and offers up a number of  ruins and remnants from the area's old mills, while the Danestone side leads through an open community space with fairy doors and painted toadstools. Both are home to a surprising amount of wildlife, given they're still within the city, and it's not uncommon for a deer or two to stumble across your path. 


These are some of my favourite spots, but where do you like to walk in the city?


[Last updated 18/03/23]

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