Story Famous Locations in Aberdeenshire
Once upon a time in a land not too far away, a beautiful North-eastern corner of Scotland filled with enchanting escapes captured the hearts of storytellers the world over.
In Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire we are truly spoiled with stunning locations. From grand castles to historic fishing villages, rugged countryside to chilling clifftops, it’s really no surprise that the North-east has acted as the backdrop to star-studded movies and inspired legendary storytellers.
With so many sights to tick off your set-jetting list (yes, that is really a thing), you’ll need some fitting foodie pit stops to refuel along the way.
New Slains Castle / The Kilmarnock Arms
Overlooking crashing waves, the ruin of New Slains Castle commands the craggy cliffside of Cruden Bay with gothic mystery and spooky history. It’s this location where Bram Stoker, the infamous writer of Dracula, took inspiration for the setting of the Count’s eerie lair.
Before going to print in 1897, the world’s most famed gothic novel was penned nearby at The Kilmarnock Arms, while the Irish author visited on holiday which makes a very apt food stop after exploring this chilling site. At reception, you can even see pages of the original guest book that Stoker signed all those years ago.
Over in the town of Cruden Bay, The Kilmarnock Arms may look like your typical small town pub, but inside exquisite plates await. The first dinner at the hotel was recorded in 1888 and its cosy and charming 1888 Restaurant has been serving ever since with a menu that encompasses classic pub grub options with plenty of heart.
Dunnottar Castle / The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant
From one coast to another, Dunnottar Castle perches on its secluded clifftop keeping centuries of secrets safe from the pondering eye. It’s a spectacle of the North-east being one of the most photographed castles in the region and, when it’s not capturing the hearts of tourists, it’s catching the eyes of plenty location scouts.
It doubled as Denmark in Hamlet (1990) starring Mel Gibson, inspired Merida’s castle in Disney’s Brave (2012) and welcomed Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy to its grounds in the filming of Victor Frankenstein (2015) to name a few.
Nearby, The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant welcomes you to delve into courses of freshly caught seafood while you take in tranquil sea views from its harbour front restaurant.
Poldullie Bridge, Strathdon / The Kildrummy Inn
Tales of kings and queens are no stranger to these parts either. Poldullie Bridge graced Saoirse Ronan and her noble steed in the Oscar nominated Mary Queen of Scots (2018) and not too far away, Kildrummy Castle was doubled by another castle ruin in the Netflix hit Outlaw King.
An ideal tie in with these royal (well royalish) spots is The Kildrummy Inn, serving up the finest in Scottish Hospitality in its cosy confines complete with tartan, roaring fire and rolling countryside.
Braemar / The Flying Stag at The Fife Arms
Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote pages of the swashbuckling Treasure Island in the charming town of Braemar. You can still walk past the cottage where he stayed today and just streets away, The Flying Stag awaits for a fine feast indeed. Located in the spectacular The Fife Arms adorned in internationally acclaimed art, this place does a mean chicken Sunday roast with all the trimmings and a gigantic yorkshire pudding.
Balmoral Castle / The Highlanders Bakehouse
Surrounded by magnificent forest and hugged by the banks of the River Dee, Balmoral Castle is the famed summer holiday retreat for the Royal Family. It may have never starred in any movies but has been dubbed plenty of times and plus, I really wanted to shoe horn in a mention of The Highlanders Bakehouse.
Sitting a stones throw away from the castle’s regal gates, under the nose of Crathie Kirk where the Royal Family attend church during their stay, The Highlanders Bakehouse serves up nothing but the best bakery goods. Glorious pastry twists, enough butteries to feed a small army, freshly made bread and cake – lots and lots of cake – lining its shelves. Just think of this place as an edible library. Oh and you need to try out its own speciality roasted coffee by Figment Coffee too.
Pennan / Coastal Cuppie
Long before time travelling in the Tardis, Peter Capaldi had a stint with another famous telephone box in the coastal village of Pennan. In the 1983 film Local Hero, this coastal town still looks untouched by modern life with a line of little cottages along its single street that marries the harbourside. Still today the telephone box stands and is quite the landmark in the town.
Also standing on the shoreline is the beach hut of The Coastal Cuppie serving up hot drinks and bakes featuring additions from The Tartan Pig – if the triple chocolate brownie is on the go, get it!
Old Aberdeen / Kilau
Most recently, Aberdeen was pinpointed as a look-a-like Soviet Russia in the upcoming Tetris (2021) starring Taron Egerton. Using the Zoology Building of The University of Aberdeen in one of its scenes and the nearby Kilau definitely would have kept spectators warm with take-away coffee and delicious homebakes as they lined up to watch scenes being filmed.
Portsoy / Portsoy Ice Cream
Flat caps and dapper fashion descended on Portsoy last year as the cast and crew of Peaky Blinders arrived to film scenes of its sixth and final series. Shooting at the historic Portsoy Harbour – built with the same sandstone used for the Palace of Versailles nonetheless – I’d like to hope the cast visited Portsoy Ice Cream for a cone of ice cream dreams.
With a freezer loaded with all the flavours under the sun – and I mean all flavours – you have your choice of the classics and the out of the box, but all insanely delicious. The white chocolate millionaires shortbread Reece’s Pieces ice cream is quite simply a scoop of heaven.
Castle Fraser / Castle Fraser Restaurant
Over to Castle Fraser where Dame Helen Mirran filmed scenes for The Queen (2006) and if you were to ask me to rank my favourite castles in Aberdeenshire, this one would be right up top. Not only for its captivating stature, beautiful walled garden or name matching mine, but the heavenly Castle Fraser Restaurant which cooks up a storm on site. It’s homebakes galore here along with both lunch options and glorious dine at home packages putting its stamp on fine Scottish dining. Even better yet, the restaurant is set to open in the old Grant Arms in Kemnay offering a new dine in concept which I can’t wait to try out.
Craigievar Castle / Spider on a Bicycle,
Always pretty in pink, the towering Craigievar Castle stands high in the surroundings of trees and no matter the weather, is always an enchanting spot. Some say that Craigievar is where Walt Disney took inspiration for Cinderella’s castle while others note it as being one of the many castles that combine to create the grand castle we see in the Disney titles. Either way, quite the testament to this spellbinding fortress.
Just under a 20 minute drive away is a place that sounds like a kids storybook, Spider on a Bicycle. This inviting cafe is found in the old railway station of Aboyne, serving up sandwiches, cakes and savoury snacks all made from scratch – word has it that the best coffee in town can be sipped here too.
Much like the Harry Potter saga, there’s many more sights and glorious eateries to add to your list – so in true cliff-hanging form, I’ll leave you in suspense until next week.