Walk 19: Aberdeen City Walk: “Any port in a storm”

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 6 miles (9.6 km)

Time to walk: We did this walk in early September 2014 starting around 6pm so literally only had just over a couple of hours of daylight to complete it. We therefore ‘legged it’ in just under 2 hours, but at a steady pace it would take about 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Apart from a couple of hundred yards on the beach this walk’s completely on hard paths. It’s also totally flat & really easy

Parking: We parked in the Station Car Park (about £3 for the evening) but, if you want to start the walk on the Esplanade, there’s plenty of free parking along there

Public toilets: Various pubs etc along the route

Map of the route:

Ignore the numbers

Ignore the numbers

This walk’s a real mixture of city centre, port & seaside – all within 2 hours! It’s the first time we’d been to Aberdeen & it’s a traditional port city, but the difference is the port really is in the middle of the city

So what can we tell you about Aberdeen

Aberdeen is Scotland’s third most populated city whose nicknames include the ‘Granite City’, the ‘Grey City’ and the ‘Silver City with the Golden Sands’. During the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, Aberdeen’s buildings incorporated locally quarried grey granite, which sparkle like silver in the sun.

Since the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s, other nicknames have been the Oil Capital of Europe or the Energy Capital of Europe. The area around Aberdeen has been settled since at least 8,000 years ago, when prehistoric villages lay around the mouths of the rivers Dee and Don

The traditional industries of fishing, paper-making, shipbuilding, and textiles have been overtaken by the oil industry and Aberdeen’s seaport. Aberdeen Heliport is one of the busiest commercial heliports in the world. We’ll see the influence of oil when we end our walk by passing through the port area

Apologies for the poor quality of photos as they were all taken on a phone & with light fading fast!

So…ready to see what the city has to offer? Then Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk starts from Aberdeen Railway Station & we exit through the main doors from the adjoining shopping centre into the pedestrian square…

It's a bit grey!

It’s a bit grey!

…& turn right along Guild Street, passing the Bus Station on the right. We need to cross over the road here, but be careful as it’s very busy…

Over the road is the Soprano St Magnus Court Hotel which is very ‘castle’ looking…

…& at the traffic junction…whoa… there’s boats!! We told you the port was in the middle of the city!

2. We cross Market Street & then turn left up the cobbled street below

The property at the top of the hill’s The Aberdeen Maritime Museum. The museum tells the story of the city’s long relationship with the North Sea. Collections cover shipbuilding, fast sailing ships, fishing and port history, and displays on the North Sea Oil industry. It also commands a spectacular viewpoint over the busy harbour

Collection highlights include ship plans and photographs from the major shipbuilders of Aberdeen including Hall, Russell & Company Ltd, Alexander Hall and Sons, Duthie and John Lewis & Co. Ltd and Walter Hood & Co

Displays include ship and oil rig models, paintings, clipper ship and “North Boats” material, fishing, whalers and commercial trawlers, North Sea oil industry, and the marine environment

3. Continuing up the hill next door to the Museum is John Ross’ House, which is the 2nd oldest in Aberdeen…

John Ross was Provost Of Aberdeen between 1710 & 1711. It’s amazing that next to the very old there’s the very new…

4. At the top we turn right along Exchequer Street & then left into Union Street…

…before crossing over & right down Broad Street…

5. The imposing building on the right is Marischal College which also doubles up as the headquarters of Aberdeenshire City Council

Outside the front is an imposing statue of Robert the Bruce

Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329), popularly known as Robert the Bruce was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329. Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, eventually leading Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland’s place as an independent nation (how ironic today!), and is today remembered in Scotland as a national hero

The coats of arms above the main entrance are impressive…

Remember a few years ago when Northampton had the displays of Lions around the town? Aberdeen’s shortly going to have Dolphins & tonight some were arriving…

6. Having passed the College bear slightly right down Gallowgate…

…before turning right down the hill into Littlejohn Street & then crossing over into Meal Market Street (what you will find is Aberdeen doesn’t have many street signs!!). Much of the area around here is the college campus…

7. At the top of the hill we come to a t-junction with King Street where we need to urn right. There’s a couple of ‘interesting’ establishments over the road that we decide to bypass…

The Last Neuk

The Last Neuk

Tattooed Freak

Tattooed Freak

We’ll maybe move quickly on, carefully crossing the road & turning left down Frederick Street beside the Cat Protection shop…

8. This again is still very much ‘college country’ & at the end is a traditional Aberdeen pub the ‘Saultoun Arms’ which, of course, sells the only brew to be had around here…Tenants

9. Turning left onto Park Street we begin to head out of the city towards Pittodrie, Home of Aberdeen FC…

'Bang tidy!!'

‘Bang tidy!!’

…heading over the bridge to the next road junction. You can’t see it too well, but there’s a car ahead with a can of Red Bull on it!!

10. We need to follow the right fork into Park Road passing Aberdeen City Hospital on the right…

…& then waiting, waiting, waiting to cross straight over the crossroads. The reason we say this is there were some very impatient drivers who wouldn’t let us cross…

They were coming from all angles!!

They were coming from all angles!!

11. At the top of the hill we’re now in open spaces as the road descends, dissecting a cemetery & heading past Pittodrie Stadium towards the sea…

Aberdeen Football Club have won four league titles and seven Scottish Cups, including a record three in a row during the 1980s, the only time a team other than Rangers has done this since 1882. They’re also the only Scottish team to have won two European trophies, both in the same year, & have never been relegated from the top division of the Scottish football league system

Formed in 1903 their highest profile manager was Sir Alex Ferguson, under who they won three league titles, four Scottish Cups & a Scottish League Cup, alongside the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup & the UEFA Super Cup, both in 1983. Aberdeen were the last club outside of the Old Firm to win a league title, in 1984–85, & also the last Scottish team to win a European trophy

Aberdeen have played at Pittodrie Stadium since their inception. The ground currently has a capacity of 21,421 & was the first all-seated and all-covered stadium in the United Kingdom. Pittodrie was also the first football stadium to feature a dugout, an invention of player and coach Donald Colman

12. As the road bends first right & then left we need to head down the small road to the right of Kings Links Golf Centre

…& pass through the underpass where ahead is The North Sea

13. For the next couple of miles the walking’s really easy & we’re going to follow the Esplanade back to the Port. We have a choice whether we want to walk on the beach, the Esplanade or the road – we’re going to do all 3!!

Classic coastal walking along here

Classic coastal walking along here

On the right we pass the Leisure Centre & the Beach Ballroom which looked like it had seen better days..

14. Looking out to sea there’s numerous ships either moored up or coming in or out of the port, most of which are service vessels to the rigs, many of which lie over 100 miles offshore & closer to Norway than they are to Aberdeen…

15. On the right now is a bar & club complex, plus Codona’s Amusement Park

It all looks a bit run down...

It all looks a bit run down…

Codona’s Amusement Park is family run amusement park established by the Codonas Family in 1969 & currently run by the third generation of the family

Maybe not tonight!!

Maybe not tonight!!

16. There’s a couple of information boards along here reminding us that this section of the walk forms part of The North Sea Trail – don’t know that one, but it sounds exciting as it covers several countries

The North Sea Trail is being created by the NAVE Nortrail Project, which is partly funded by the European Union. The aim is to create a series of footpaths around the North Sea Coastlines to discover the special things about these places – what makes them different & what gives them a common North Sea culture

Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands & the United Kingdom are all involved in the initiative

We’re getting closer to the entrance to the port now & the evening’s beginning to draw in so best foot forward

Ready for a quick paddle? Then head down the slipway below as we need to walk along the beach for the next couple of hundred yards towards the tower…

…& then our way back off the beach is up the steps…

17. The area we’re in now is one of the oldest in Aberdeen & contains many old fishermen’s cottages, harking back to the days when this city played a major part in the fishing industry

At the playground we turn left & exit through the gate onto the Quayside…

So that's what that Tower is...

So that’s what that Tower is…

18. There’s one of Aberdeen’s most notable restaurants along here on the right, Silver Darlings

‘Silver Darlings’ is also a common name for Herrings & a reference back to when Aberdeen played a major part in this industry. Have a look at this link for more details…

We can see the entrance to the port below & note it’s starting to get quite dark now…

19. The war memorial’s just along here, but before that’s a bench that’s easy to miss which commemorates the 3000 boats built in this port…

20. Aberdeen Harbour is Europe’s principal marine support centre for the energy sector in the North Sea and Atlantic Margin & is the main commercial port serving North-East Scotland with shipping links to around 40 countries worldwide

What we should have realised is that Aberdeen is like any other port & around this area is another industry which is the oldest in the world…the police acknowledge it & keep it contained. Best foot forward then, but there were some sights…

This area of the port’s known as Pocra Quay…

…& our route lies along the road past the large blue storage tanks. We’re not supposed to pop through the gates to have a look at the ships, but hey…

21. After following the Quay we turn first left into the unmarked York Street (not tonight ladies thank you)…

…& simply follow it along for about 1/4 mile. In the Quays on the left there’s several oil rig supply boats including one with a helipad attached to the front…

Wow!!

Wow!!

22. Watch Benidorm on TV?

Well then the bar on the right will make you smile & we turn left here into York Place…

It's Neptune Bar…sing up Madge!!

It’s Neptune Bar…sing up Madge!!

…& then turn first right down St Clement Street & immediately left into Wellington Street…

There’s another interestingly named pub down here & one of Aberdeen’s oldest & most welcoming…Fittie Bar. It’s a true old Seaman’s Bar in the middle of what was once fishermen’s’ cottages

23. At the end we turn right & head down Wellington Quay – the light’s really going now…

On the right was a large glass window that had a great reflection that the phone camera didn’t quite do justice…

…& another peep through the gates shows us sunset over the port with the city behind…

24. There was another gate on the left & we filmed a short cut with a ship coming in. We only got about 15 seconds before a grumpy guard with an ‘Albert Tatlock’ nose told us to move on. Check this Youtube link below to see (the ship, not the nose…)

Moving swiftly on then at the next junction we bear left onto Regent Quay, but not before spotting another ‘interestingly’ named pub on the right…

Interesting...

Interesting…

25. Moving along the right side of Regent Quay there’s an interesting plaque on a building…

Further along are the offices of Swan & Co, one of the world leaders in marine surveying to the gas & oil industry…

…& then the site of a Norwegian Church…we’ll see another one of these in Cardiff Bay next week…

26. We’re at the end of the harbour now…

…& back in Guild Street where we simply head back to the station where we parked

So that’s the end of our 6 mile walk around the ‘highlights’ of Aberdeen. What did we think of it? Well we walked it very quickly as the night was drawing in, but it’s very much a traditional port city with everything that goes with that

Looking at Tripadvisor ‘What to do’ there’s quite a few other things to see, but we can honestly say it’s not one of our favourite Scottish cities & we’re not sure if we’d recommend for a weekend or not

Still this is an unbiased blog so if you fancy it….Go Walk!!

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