It feels a little bit strange to be talking about holidays during a global pandemic, but we managed to get a change of scene over the summer once lockdown restrictions were lifted in Scotland. Part of our intended summer holiday plans were to visit friends in England, but as we felt it was a bit risky to visit busier places, so instead we opted for a week in rural Abzshire (Aberdeenshire). We had originally intended to be there just for a weekend, but extended our stay in our amazing Airbnb cabin which we had booked before COVID – more about that later.
On our way to Abzshire we stopped off for lunch at the Bootleggers Bothy in Hopeman, Moray, for some delicious seafood. Being a sunny day it was easy to take a socially distanced seat away from others and enjoy the view of the Moray Firth with our tasty lunch! It was the perfect way to start our holiday.
Our home for the week was a small but perfectly formed cabin close to the village of Echt in Abzshire (note that the above link isn’t an ad or sponsored, we paid to stay there). It was situated in the large garden of the owners Brenda and Alan, and was an easy place to socially distance from anyone! The cabin had a bedroom (which was small but had a lot of storage space), bathroom and living space which featured this kitchen in a Georgian cupboard. There were some super stylish furnishings and an outdoor decking area. We splashed out on the hot tub (additional fee) and enjoyed several evenings admiring the sunset sky. There was a lovely circular walk nearby, and our hosts Brenda and Allan (who is from Thurso – there’s always a Caithness connection!) were very helpful and friendly, along with their three dogs!
Our plan for the week was to explore the area in various different directions. On our only grey and dismal day I took Mr B and Bartie to Aberdeen beach and the fishing village of Footdee, where I had visited last year on a previous trip to Aberdeen)
Our ‘to-do’ list was basically to spend as much time outdoors, and I consulted Christy’s 25 Most Picturesque Walks in Aberdeenshire post to pick out a few walking routes we wanted to check out.
The Seven Bridges walk in Ballater was a mostly flat circular route, with views of hills, rivers and forests. You can view the walking route in more detail here.
We also did the Balmoral Cairns walk (just in time before the Queen and Prince Philip came to the estate for their holidays. We were pleased to do this route and see most of the cairns with their stunning views in exactly 3 hours, considering we had some humid, breezeless weather to contend with. Please make sure you check local information before you travel to embark on this walk (at the time of writing the estate is closed until the end of September 2020).
It wouldn’t be a trip to Abzshire if we didn’t venture to the coast, and as well as Footdee, we also had a day out walking the the coastal path from Inverbervie to Gourdon, and then a walk up to Dunnottar Castle from Stonehaven, followed by an excellent fish supper from The Bay (when we were there, they were only doing pre-orders which you can easily do online in advance.)
On our last day, we also went to Newburgh for a short walk along the beach. This was the busiest place by far despite my photo below, but it was the warmest day of our trip, so it wasn’t unexpected. People were spaced out evenly and there definitely was a conscious feeling of trying to adhere to distancing rules, as well as everyone taking their waste away with them.
It was a bit of a contrast coming back to the Highlands and disappointingly seeing a lot of tourists behaving irresponsibly in different ways with regards to litter, camping or driving. We found Abzshire to be quite quiet generally, and we found everyone we interacted to be friendly, relaxed and welcoming of visitors.
We felt that we had barely scratched the surface of places to visit in Aberdeenshire, and while some attractions were closed (NTS properties for example), there was so many places to viit – which gives us all the more reason to return to Abzshire in the future!