Aden Country Park in Aberdeenshire is a wonderful place to visit, though I have to admit that when I lived near it I took it a bit for granted. In fact I became a little disenchanted by some aspects of the place.
But it’s beautiful. From the ruined mansion house…
To the Victorian Arboretum with its high Redwoods and Monkey Puzzles and Yews…
My disenchantment lay, basically, in over-exposure to the museums, both of which are actually really great – and free – visitor attractions. There’s a farming museum beside the cafe and then further into the woods there’s Hareshowe, a Victorian farmhouse that was taken down brick by brick and rebuilt at Aden, looking as it would have in the 1950s. You can watch a film of this happening in the farming museum.
I have been round those museums so many times, especially Hareshowe. When I worked in the educational system I visited them every year on school trips. I took my own children round them too.
One day, in more recent years, just walking in the park, I was lured behind a barn to see some baby chicks (Rhode Island Red mum with Silkie chicks) and found myself swept up in a crowd and on the official tour of the farmhouse. Again. I experienced a strange mix of both boredom and fury when asked to smell the carbolic soap for what must have been the 50th time. I didn’t want to smell it. I didn’t want to see it. I wanted to hurl it down the stairs, run after it and jump up and down on it until it was no more.
But I didn’t. How could I do that to the ‘farmer’s wife’? How many times had she had to proffer that bar of soap – as gnarly, in its own way, as the tree roots at the start of this post – to children and tourists? I politely held it under my nose. But I did not inhale.
I play pooh sticks on the bridge, below, when I visit now; I wander along the banks of the winding river, through the woods and look at the old ice house. The park boasts a recently created Fairy Wood which has helped with my re-enchantment. And, though I do highly recommend them, I no longer go into the museums!
Read more about Aden Country Park and its many facilities here.
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Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.