Neighbouring City Wander//Edinburgh

The Winters are starting to draw in now…

When it gets to this time of year, it can be difficult to muster a team together for a hike in the country.

With the mercury steadily dropping on the thermometer, making our way into the heart of the countryside can feel a little daunting right now, especially when it’s raining so much here. As we start getting towards the true depths of Winter, we start to take our walks away from the freezing wastes and locate our walks either outside of the country altogether, or retreat to a nearby city where the streets and buildings usually make for a slightly more liveable temperature.

As much as Aberdeen is a perfectly festive place to enjoy during this time of year, there’s something so jovial about hopping on a train to Edinburgh. From around 2.5-3.5 hours, the journey isn’t that long, so if you feel like making a day trip of it from Aberdeen, like a small group of us did last weekend, then you can easily fit in an action packed day of activities and make it back for the last train home at half 9.

On a typical day, we’d be shuffling ourselves out of bed at an ungodly hour and onto a minibus with our big rucksacks, looking forward to a bumpy ride for an hour or so to some desolate part of the countryside.

This was a different kind of walk altogether though. We hopped on board the train to Edinburgh at a reasonable time of half 7 and soon found ourselves being whisked along past some stunning views of the surrounding areas.

Before 10am we’d reached Edinburgh and were ready to start our action-packed walking tour. As proud Scotsmen, we’ve all visited our capital on more than one occasion, but it’s not somewhere that we’d had the chance to visit during the festive season before. Although it wasn’t quite chilly enough to snow yet, there was still a pleasant chill in the air, making us all glad for our thermals. We set out at a brisk pace from the train station and made our way to the one attraction in Edinburgh that you are almost guaranteed to have to queue for.

Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest in the city and is, quite rightly, flooded with tourists pretty much every day that it’s open. Parts of the castle date to as far back as the 12th century and although there have been many changes made to the grand building in it’s time, it has still retained the ancient feeling of those centuries old parts. Well over a million people visit the Castle every year, yet the Castle does not feel any more worn that it should do. After taking our fill of the historic landmark, it was time to make our way over to the Old Town.

Edinburgh’s Old Town is probably the closest that history buffs will get to literally walking through history. Many of the streets have remained unchanged for centuries and although the shop windows might well be filled with modern clothing boutiques; strict rules, part and parcel of being part of the UNESCO Heritage agreement, has ensured that the area is protected from any building work that might interfere with the area’s ambience.

After a day of hijacking, complete with a few pints of ale we were more than ready to jump back on the 9:30pm train back to Aberdeen.

City Walking//Aberdeen in Summer

Our walkers were more than a little surprised when they found out that we’d be staying in the city for our first walk of July.

Many of our group are school teachers, they’re usually free every weekend and are always the first to offer to drive us out of the city on the weekends, however this week was different.

As we’re reaching the end of the school term, many of our teaching compatriots are starting to really feel the pressure. The closer they get to the summer holidays, the more restless the children get and the harder it is for them to keep control of them. In addition to this, they also take the kids out on more school trips during these final weeks, resulting in their working days being almost doubled. So, by the time they get to the weekend they’re exhausted and the thought of driving a bunch of excitable walkers all the way out to the Trossachs just feels like far too much effort.

With our teachers out for the count last weekend, we had to limit our plans for the first walk of July and keep our first ‘wander’ within the city limits of Aberdeen – our base of operations. Around half of us live in the city itself, whereas the other half live in the surrounding villages, towns and suburbs; so our walkers either drove in or simply picked up a bus. As we recently received a new influx of members, we thought it best for us to meet in the city and take our time, so that we had a good chance to chat and get to know each other.

The weather in Aberdeen during this time of year is usually very pleasant. Although it was perhaps a few degrees cooler than it usually is in July, many of us decided to brave it with a pair of shorts and we were rewarded with legs that were at least a few shades darker by the end of the day.

The circuit that we took was a simple loop, taking us through some of the most picturesque parts of the city. An amble down Ship Road brought us down cobbled streets and then along to Regent Quay. Dazzling sunshine shone down on us throughout the day, illuminating the fine granite slabs that make up the majority of the construction materials around this area. Many of these buildings are well over a century old, but that doesn’t stop them from shining as if they were built last week.

Before too long we’d reached Aberdeen Harbour and were soon making our way towards Footdee. Once a fishing village, this quaint little village is now pretty much a part of the city itself, but if you ignore the bustling metropolis behind you, it’s not hard to imagine teams of fishermen heading out to sea every day, dragging their boats along the short strip of sand each day.

It’s surprising how quickly your appetite builds after walking for just an hour or so. Although we had packed food with us (Aberdeen Rambling Walkers always come prepared) there was a jovial spirit amongst our group and we decided to drop in at Footdee’s premier fish restaurant, The Silver Darling. With a piping hot meal inside us, there was no way that we weren’t going to enjoy a pint of ale to wash down the crab and bass.

Our steps back to the centre of Aberdeen were certainly a little more laboured, but we’d definitely got July’s walking off to a good start.