Aberdeen – Scotland’s granite city made rich by the sea

It’s off to the East Coast for this 2020 Coasts and Waters photo. Aberdeen is a bustling city, made prosperous by the offshore energy industry in the North Sea. Before then it was a vital fishing harbour on the East Coast as well as a trading port. You can see how historically Aberdeen benefitted from important trading links by the number of fine granite buildings in the city centre.

Yet, just a short walk from the bustle of Aberdeen city centre you can enjoy a bracing walk along the beach, with the North Sea waves breaking by your feet. I would recommend trying this walk from my friends at WalkHighlands.co.uk. This not only takes in the seafront of Aberdeen but will lead you through the cobbled streets of the old city. You could pop into the lovely St Machar’s Cathedral before heading through the university quarter.

As you wander along the seafront, keep an eye open for the Art Deco Beach Ballroom. It’s said to be home to one of the best dancefloors in Scotland, as it floats on steel springs giving dancers an extra bounce. I’ve whirled around that floor, in my kilt, on several tipsy occasions enjoying a traditional ceilidh night.

Aberdeen harbour control tower
The Aberdeen Harbourmaster’s control tower

Haar! Haar! Haar!

No, I’m not laughing! To be honest, you aren’t always guaranteed blue skies like this. As something called haar can sweep in off the sea even on a summers day. Haar is a thick, cold sea fog that can envelop the city and chill your bones in the process. It’s not dissimilar to the sea fog I’ve experienced in San Francisco. But a brisk walk will soon warm you up and Aberdeen is somewhat mysterious in the mirk of the haar

This photo includes the distinctive harbourmaster’s control tower guarding the entrance to the harbour. This walk through the small fishing village of Footdee (pronounced Fittie) will take you close to the control tower’s commanding position. Footdee has long been swallowed up by Aberdeen itself but is still a fascinating place to explore.

Aberdeen is set to become a new place on the tourist trail over the next few years. Expanded port facilities will allow more cruise ships to visit giving access not only to the city but the surrounding countryside of Aberdeenshire. Now’s the time to visit before the crowds arrive.

Wondering what all this 2020 Coasts and Waters is about? Find out here.