It was one of the first things I discovered when we moved to Peterculter. I had lived in Aberdeen years ago but never knew it existed; stretching all the way from Duthie Park in Aberdeen out to Banchory in Royal Deeside, meandering alongside the River Dee. The Old Deeside Line, or Deeside Way, is an old railway line that used to run from Aberdeen to Ballater (and closed in 1966). If you are in the Aberdeen/Royal Deeside area, I highly recommend a stroll along this oh-so-lovely pathway (and keep an eye out on the Bieldside to Peterculter stretch for the converted railway station that is now a beautiful red house, complete with hammock swinging where waiting passengers would have once sat).
Having spent the last four years in a cottage that backed onto a countryside walk, this peaceful track is a haven for me – so used to a tranquil space on my doorstep. My son and I walk here regularly: he exploring the edge of the path in delight (and trying to scale the hill that lines it); while I drink in the birdsong and sunlight that is sieved through tree branches (sometimes only for a brief moment before having to chase after my adventurous and headstrong toddler). Often, like a runner on a start line, it is the shrill bell-ringing of an approaching bicycle that signals me to hot-foot after my speedy son; the path is popular with cyclists, horse-riders and dog-walkers, and the mix of this ‘traffic’ weaving in and out provides an added attraction for little ones.
In the last few weeks, spring has burst into colour along the line, with a sea of daffodils by the old Culter station, white blossom patterning the skies and bluebells nodding in greeting from the side of the path. On Good Friday I paused to watch my husband and son walking hand in hand under a blossom arch, and thought how lucky we are to have this just a stone’s throw from our house. In my son’s ever-expanding world, the path continues to offer new delights and sights and sounds. And when he is napping in his buggy, I walk longer stretches of the line and hug the quietness to myself.