Family Walks in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – It’s definitely time to get the little darlings, granny, the in-laws, and the cousins out of the house. A winter walk is on the cards! Whilst little ones definitely need encouragement and support on bigger hikes, these walks are quite achievable for most ages with basic mobility and fitness. *Contains affiliate links
Here are some of our favourite winter walks in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, just to give you some ideas and inspiration. Or it’s simply an excuse to look at the bonny photos 🙂
Mither Tap, Bennachie – near Inverurie
Bennachie has nine summits. Oxen Craig is the highest but Mither Tap is my favourite. Park at the Bennachie Visitor Centre to ascend. Emerge from the forestry to ascend a stone staircase to the summit. Allow about an hour to 1.5 hours to walk uphill, less to descend – my eldest galloped downhill at a pace I simply could not imitate!
Pros – The views can be epic. With the compass and cairn on the summit, there’s no doubt you’ve reached the top. Care is required with youngsters on the summit.
Cons – Fitness and mobility required for a steady ascent, kids will quite probably whinge but they’ll feel a sense or achievement at the top. Babies in carriers only. Get further info here.
Den of Maidencraig, Aberdeen City
This nature reserve has lots of appeal – feed the ducks at a wee pond, then escape into a lush green woodland until you stumble upon a waterfall. I simply did not expect to find somewhere like this in a city. We spent about an hour here 🙂
Tollohill Forest, Aberdeen
A dark, lush forest, that includes a walk to a cairn/memorial with views to Aberdeen. Excellent for running circular laps, or for a family walk. Occasional water filled gorges, and one potential drop into such a gorge (lemming style) but a very safe family destination overall.
Millstone Hill, Bennachie – near Inverurie
Another great Bennachie summit to tackle, with a similar cairn on the top. Excellent views of Mither Tap and the surrounding area from the top. Pros and cons are very similar to climbing Mither Tap, but get the lowdown here.
River Dee in Aberdeen City
Park on Riverside Drive in the Garthdee end of town for a stroll along the river. It feels like a complete escape from the city. Cross the first bridge you come to, turn back on yourself then cross the Bridge of Dee to return to the car.
Footdee, Aberdeen City
The devil’s in the detail at Footdee. Explore this traditional fishing village where each outhouse is idiosyncratically decorated. Perfect location for eye-spy or an improvised treasure hunt. Look out for meerkats, gnomes and lions! Aberdeen beach is on the doorstep.
Scolty Hill – near Banchory
Another manageable ascent, this time in Royal Deeside. Rewarding views and a tower at the top, make this a ‘King of the Castle’ moment. FYI – the tower is a 19th century memorial to General William Burnett who fought alongside Wellington. Now you know. Get directions here.
Brimmond Hill – Aberdeen City
A really wee hill ideal for little legs. Still offers fantastic views inland to the hills and out to sea. Buggy friendly and easy parking.
Newburgh Beach and Forvie Nature Reserve – near Ellon
A sweeping stretch of golden sand, with the added bonus of fantastic birdlife and a seal colony. This sand dune system is found at the mouth of the Ythan River. It’s also home to eider ducks, diving terns and oyster catchers as well as the renowned 400 strong seal colony. We took a lightweight outdoor buggy for our toddler, and a baby carrier for the baby. Thankfully the sand was dense enough for the buggy.
Pros – It’s rare to see so many seals in one spot in Aberdeenshire. Flat terrain may suit those less fit or mobile better than a hill climb. Read up in detail here.
It’s all about the trees here – follow one of three forest trails, ranging from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. Get more details here.
Loch Muick – near Ballater
Walking around the loch is good for those who prefer a circular route, something new with every step, rather than a return trip or ascent/descent. The landscape is pretty yet raw, and Loch Muick was once the stomping ground of Queen Victoria and lies within Balmoral Estate.
A full round trip takes a few hours, so perhaps bring a packed lunch. There are small beaches and building to explore around the loch, so a few markers along the way to add interest. Look out for Glas-allt Shiel, the hunting lodge originally built for Queen Victoria, completed in 1868. Detailed info can be found here.
Tyrebagger Forest – Aberdeen City
This forest walk has the added interest of sculptures dotted through the trees, offering something a little different for impatient youngsters to seek and discover. For those with tots or buggies follow the shorter Beech Tree Trail. For more info and directions click here.
Kirkhill Forest – Aberdeen
Literally across the dual carriageway from Tyrebagger, this forest walk leads to a small tower that gives little ones even better views. The tower is a 19th century folly at Tappie Tower. We followed the yellow trail, which took about 40 minutes each way. Great for mountain biking too. Discover more here.
P&J Live, Aberdeen City
Totally unexpected but there’s a lovely loop to walk or cycle around the P&J Live. It’s far greener than I expected, and we even spotted a heron on the banks of the burn. Park near the Craighaar Hotel, then cut up the lane next to the Bowling Club for the fun to begin.
Balmedie Beach, near Balmedie
For a dune landscape that resembles Tatooine from Star Wars, it’s got to be Balmedie Beach.
Haddo House Country Park, near Methlick and Tarves
The grounds of Haddo House are extensive, featuring a wooden playground, a duck pond, a giant urn, deer statues and the Waterloo Monument commemorating the 4th Earl’s younger brother who died on the battlefield. The house itself was a maternity hospital during World War II and over 1,200 babies were born here. Discover more about this National Trust for Scotland site here.
Old Aberdeen, Aberdeen City
Taking in Seaton Park, Brig o Balgownie, King’s College Chapel and Cathedral there’s a lot to see and do. Read more about this historical area of Aberdeen city here.
Burn O Vat, near Tarland
Clamber through a seemingly magical and mysterious hole in a rock face to discover the geological curiosity that is Burn O Vat. Flowing water add a sense of adventure and make wellies a must, whatever your age. A very easy 10 minute stroll from the Visitor Centre Car Park (which boasts the cosiest heated toilets) and campervans are welcome to stay for a maximum of one night. We climbed up the waterfall, then followed a track up the right hand bank of the burn to find an unofficial picnic spot for the essential ‘snacks’ and flasks, before circling back downhill and starting again!
Tullos Hill, Aberdeen City
Starting with a very unpromising looking lane on an industrial estate, this curious walk widens out to take in a couple of cairns, great sea views and a series of looping tracks that offer variety. Very easy ascent ,and pretty short if you simply walk to the second cairn and back in a straight line, but it’s easy to extend the walk by taking a more circular route back. We were sorely tempted to keep walking to the sea/Torry Battery, but had the small matter of the car and getting home to think about. Next time.
Dunnottar Woods – near Stonehaven
These woods were once part of a wealthy estate, and as such contain lots of quirky curiosities. A walled garden, a Shell Hoosie (a folly in the woods decorated in fir cones and shells) and outdoor rock baths, once used by the resilient landed gentry for summer bathing, all bring colour, history and culture. For more detail visit here.
Stonehaven War Memorial – Stonehaven
Park at the harbour, take it the fishing boats and coastguards, then sneak up path behind the harbour front houses, following a sign saying ‘Dunnottar Castle’. This path gives excellent views of the harbour as you ascend. The War Memorial is unmissable. Designed by Stonehaven architect John Ellis in sandstone, it was unveiled in 1923. The names of the local soldiers who gave their lives during the two Great Wars are clearly listed, and the views are stunning. A gentle hike for tots, and the perfect place to remember the fallen.
Dunnottar Castle – Stonehaven
Naturally, if you continue the coastal walk from the War Memorial it leads to the sublime Dunnottar Castle – read all about this walk here. This clifftop ruin is a thing of beauty, hugely atmospheric and full of history (the Honours/Crown Jewels were hidden here when Cromwell marched north). A longer walk from Stonehaven for older children and adults.
Unlike most castles, Dunnottar is open most days of the year. Its interiors are worth exploring, but it’s perfectly possible to get a sense of it, for free, from the outside.
Aberdeen Beach – in Aberdeen
An easy one, with a boardwalk ideal for buggies and scooters. Cafés and restaurants at one end offer lots of pitstops. The historic fishing village of Footdee and a playground feature at the other end. Pack those buckets and spades now.
There are many more family friendly winter walks around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, but these are the ones I’ve personally undertaken and enjoyed. Other ideas include Cove Harbour in Aberdeen, plus all the city’s parks and gardens. For more Aberdeen ideas visit here.
For all family walks, remember to bring the usual baby/child accoutrements, but also bear in mind lots of drinking water, snacks, suncream or wet weather gear as required. When walking with little ones also bring lots of encouragement and patience. I hope I’ve inspired overseas reader to visit Scotland, and for locals to burn off those winter indulgences in the stunning Scottish countryside! Enjoy the rest of your holidays.