Gnarly Roots and Carbolic Soap at Aden Country Park

Gnarly tree at Aden Country Park

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…

Mansion House at Aden Country Park

To the Victorian Arboretum with its high Redwoods and Monkey Puzzles and Yews…

Redwood trees at Aden Country Park

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.

Rhode Island Chicken with Silkie Chicks

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.

Fairy door

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!

the bridge

Read more about Aden Country Park and its many facilities here.

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The Mermaid and the Bear cover

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.




45 Replies to “Gnarly Roots and Carbolic Soap at Aden Country Park”

  1. What a great place! I would just visit the park and not the museums. That’s what I do with Dumbarton Oaks, my local best place. The museum is lovely, but unlike the gardens, it doesn’t change with the seasons or have art installations. Beautiful photos.

  2. Smells are one of those curious things that can either bring the past to vivid life in a wonderful way – or equally put us off something for life. Our olfactory system is so deeply rooted in our life experiences, so I know what you mean when you don’t want to visit the museums again. I, on the other hand, free of the memories associated with carbolic soap – would love to go! This all looks lovely, especially the woodland and the ruins. 🙂

    1. I know exactly what you mean by how deeply our sense of smell is rooted in our life experiences. Last weekend, I took a walk on the beach in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and I was instantly six years old again. Just from the smell of the seaweed.

      1. Exactly, Liz. I’m the same with so many scents. It seems that aromas are an unbreakable bond with the past. 🙂

  3. Yes it’s easy to lose the magic when over-exposed to something, no matter how amazing it is. The soap lady (or any tour guide) needs to remember that each visitor is new to that particular site. Love those gnarly roots.

  4. I love those sights! I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland (top three European countries to visit), it’s such a beautiful country. Hopefully one day I will.

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