Ardallie is a small hamlet in rural Aberdeenshire, Scotland. When visiting the area, the first things you notice are the gently rolling pastoral fields, quaint farms, and pockets of idyllic forest – it’s a window into Scotland of the past.
The nearby area offers plenty of opportunities to explore historically important locations, a range of beautiful scenery, and even embark on your own wee adventure. From the magnificent stately home of the Gordons and the castle that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to an ancient stone circle and a beach with over 400 playful seals.
Ardallie is full of varied and exciting tales – just waiting for you to find them. Situated between Aberdeen and Peterhead, Ardallie offers an enjoyable stop when exploring the Northeast of Scotland.
PLANNING YOUR VISIT
Scottish weather can be variable... During the summer it can be lovely, but due to its northerly location, there’s always the possibility of cooler days. We’d encourage you to pack appropriately. Four seasons in one day can happen, so bring waterproofs and some cozy clothes.
If you intend to hike some of the many trails, a sturdy pair of boots is recommended – don’t let puddles slow your adventure! Although the bus network is good, a hire car is strongly suggested. Some of the must-visit locations (such as our plot and Slains Castle) are tucked away down single-track roads and not accessible by public transport.
It’s a 30-minute drive from Aberdeen. Leave via King Street (A956), continue across the Bridge of Don – if you have time, Aberdeen beach offers lovely views of the North Sea. Continue up the A92 until you reach the dual carriageway. Follow the A90 until you reach the turnoff for Fraserburgh (A952) – it’s on the left-hand side. Continue on the A952 until the right-hand turn for Hatton. At the crossroad, turn left and continue on the single-track road until you’re surrounded by pine woods – the plot is on the right.
It’s a 2-hour 30-minute drive from Inverness. Leave on the A96 East, continue until you reach the left-hand turnoff for Oldmeldrum (A920). Follow it until you reach Ellon, leave via the A90 North. Follow the A90 until you reach the turnoff for Fraserburgh (A952) – it’s on the left-hand side. Continue on the A952 until the right-hand turn for Hatton. At the crossroad, take a left and follow the single-track road until you’re surrounded by pine woods – the plot is on the right.
Dyce Station at Aberdeen Airport is the nearest railway station to Ardallie. It’s visited by trains from all large cities such as Edinburgh, Inverness, and Glasgow.
See the First ScotRail website for detailed timetable information.
All the major cities offer buses to nearby Aberdeen. You can get close, but there are no buses that go directly from Aberdeen to Ardallie. Car hire or the use of a taxi service is recommended.
The nearest airport to Ardallie is Aberdeen International Airport (ABZ). Located in Dyce, the airport is 27 miles/43km from our plot – it’s about a 30-minute drive.
The airport is well connected with a range of domestic and international flights. Regular services fly from Scotland’s two main airports, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s also very accessible from London, with multiple flights every day.
Once arrived, there are regular buses to Aberdeen City. Alternatively, there’s a car rental service next to the airport.
WHERE TO STAY
Kilmarnock Arms Hotel
Named after the fourth Earl of Kilmarnock, the traditional Kilmarnock Arms Hotel has been welcoming guests for more than 120 years. Each cozy room is decorated with classic elements given a modern twist. Located in the coastal Cruden Bay, it’s a short 12-minute drive to Ardallie.
The history of this long-established hotel is well documented. The guest book has entries as early as 1893. One year after this, they were visited by the author Bram Stoker. He visited yearly and the nearby Slains Castle inspired the creation of Dracula. Until 1942, it was a temperance hotel – meaning no alcohol was allowed on-premises. This has changed and they now boast over 80 malt whiskies.
Buchan Braes Hotel
Situated in the coastal village of Boddam, the Buchan Braes Hotel effortlessly combines a modern style with a relaxing ambiance. There are 44 welcoming bedrooms that give you a chance to recharge after exploring the nearby areas – there are spectacular sea cliffs within walking distance.
The true selling point is the award-winning food. Their open kitchen Grill Room has a fantastic reputation. They use the best of local produce – seafood off the boats in Peterhead, meats from Aberdeenshire farms, and a selection of homemade bread, cheese, and desserts. Just 15 minutes from Ardallie, it offers a convenient base to explore the area.
By The Bay Bed and Breakfast
Situated in peaceful Cruden Bay was a hundred-year-old farmhouse. In 2016, this was converted and fully refurbished into By The Bay Bed and Breakfast. It combines old-fashioned Scottish hospitality with the best of modern comforts. There are 6 homely rooms a short walk from Slains Castle, the sea, and dramatic cliff paths.
The friendly owners live in an adjacent property and are on-hand 24/7 to ensure your stay is a pleasant one. Both the food and the service are highly praised by guests. This level of care is reflected in their 4 Star Guest House rating by The Scottish Tourist Board. It’s ideally located for exploring the area and is only 12 minutes from Ardallie.
New Inn Hotel
In the heart of Ellon town is an old coaching inn dating back to 1704. Historically it was used for switching the horses used in coach travel between Aberdeen and Peterhead. Nowadays, it’s a family-run hotel that prides itself on the friendly atmosphere they’ve delivered since 1993.
With views of the peaceful River Ythan, any of its 17 rooms offer a relaxing spot to recharge. Weather permitting, the beer garden is filled with a mixture of guests and locals – the perfect way to experience Scottish culture. They offer a range of traditional dishes and are known for their generous portions. All the amenities of Ellon and the fact it’s just 12 minutes to Ardallie, make this a great base from which to explore Aberdeenshire.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
The dramatic ruins of Slains Castle are perilously perched on the cliffs near Cruden Bay. The cliffs are covered with sea birds and offer an exciting – if somewhat precarious – walk. Originally constructed in 1597, the imposing castle has been rebuilt many times due to its continual bombardment by harsh coastal weather.
It was owned by the Earls of Errol until financial trouble in 1919 when they sold the castle. The new owner kept the castle for 6 years before removing the roof to avoid paying taxes. Historically, many celebrities visited during the early 19th century. It was the inspiration for Dracula and more recently it was used as a filming location for The Crown.
Misty Sea Angling/Boat Trips
Dating back to 1560, Peterhead is the largest fishing port in the UK. What better way to get a taste of the local way of life than venturing out onto the water? You can take part in a guided fishing trip or a tour of the coastal highlights.
It offers the chance to see dolphins, seals, many nesting birds, and key landmarks such as the Buchanness Lighthouse – Scotland’s most easterly point. No experience is required, the skipper is friendly and welcomes everyone aboard.
A stately home surrounded by an extensive estate and beautiful formal gardens. The area has been home to the noteworthy Gordons for over 400 years. The house was built in 1732 when the previous castle was burnt down. Designed by William Adam, it’s a striking example of Palladian architecture.
Created with entertaining in mind, the interior of the house is a sight to see – in 1880 it was refurbished in the Victorian style. There’s also an impressive art collection, including a series by Victorian artist James Giles that showcases the castles of Aberdeenshire. Haddo House regularly hosts events so phone ahead to confirm availability.
Newburgh Seal Beach
Where the mouth of the River Ythan meets the frigid North Sea, a spectacular sight awaits you. It’s home to a colony of about 400 playful seals. Within easy walking distance, just 1 mile away, is Forvie National Nature Reserve.
A white sandy beach decorates the shoreline and further back is almost 1000 hectares forming a pristine, extensive dune system – one of the largest in Britain. These dunes host a variety of unique flora and fauna. Many wild birds call it home, including Europe’s largest population of eider ducks. A must-visit location for nature lovers.
Aikey Brae Stone Circle
This mesmerizing stone circle stands at the top of Parkhouse Hill and is composed of 10 large stones. The largest of which is 21.5 tonnes and intentionally lying on its side – known as recumbent.
Built about 4000 years ago by a farming community, the circle appears to have been used for tracking the seasons through the monitoring of lunar cycles. The panoramic views in all directions make the Aikey Brae stone circle a truly magical experience.
A truly beautiful Scottish walled garden that will delight all. Every step within Pitmedden Gardens is an experience. Stroll among long herbaceous borders and marvel at the artistic topiary. Breathe deeply of the fragrant and beautiful flowers. If you visit at the right time, you can even taste the fruit of the orchard. Outside the garden are peaceful woodland trails and the chance to spot Scotland's red squirrels.
Trump International Golf Links
The moment you enter the property and begin the scenic drive to the clubhouse, you know this is a luxury course. The site boasts an opulent five-star property, fine dining, whisky tasting, and the award-winning links course.
The immaculately maintained course is nestled amongst the breathtaking dunes, meaning you only ever see the hole you’re playing. Considered by many to be the best in Scotland, Trump International Golf Links is well worth a visit.
Founded in 2007, BrewDog quickly became a worldwide brand specializing in craft beer. Their state-of-the-art brewery is conveniently located in Ellon. Look behind the scenes with a full tour that showcases the brewery, distillery, canning operation, and even their HQ. Once the tour is complete, head over to the onsite taproom and try the freshest craft beer available.