Walking by the River Dee in Aberdeen

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mearns 50 plus Walking Group have now called off this walk by the Dee on three occasions because of the pathway being blocked by overgrown shrubs, a 4 inch fall of snow and a day of torrential rain, the latter two making for dangerous walking conditions.

This is a pity because it is a lovely walk by the river and only one short uphill stretch to the old railway line.

Starting from the Duthie Park – meantime undergoing major changes this year – the riverside path starts just after the King George VI Bridge which was opened in 1943, by the late Queen Mother.

A house – or – lodge – stood in the way of progress on the city side of the bridge, so this granite building was dismantled, the stones marked, and was then transported to Anderson Drive and rebuilt near the Rubislaw Quarry.

This fine turreted granite building stands in its own grounds and can be located by its sign Duthie Lodge. So stop and look at it sometime and see what ‘Moving House’ means to Aberdonians.

Following the riverside path, there is an old fishing bothy on the left, where salmon fishers used to net the salmon as they came upstream. Unfortunately, this procedure has now ceased which is regretful as it was fascinating to watch when the net closed and was hauled in.

At the next bridge, the old Bridge of Dee with its seven arches is now a listed building paid for by monies collected by Bishop Elphinstone and built with Morayshire stone, it is now well over 400 years old.

The path goes under the bridge if the river is low, but if not, it will mean crossing the A90 beside the bridge, and re-joining the path behind Boots’ car park.

When I walked there recently, the Forsythia was in flower and the catkins on the willows just forming. This variation in shrubs and vegetation goes all along this pathway.

The Robert Gordon University buildings soon become apparent on the right hand side on what was once a caravan site on the Inchgarth estate grounds. A pathway up steps on the right, can take the walker up on to Garthdee road and return by city roads.

Proceeding up-river, and the path is now only inches from the river – an old farm appears on the opposite bank and from here the anglers have access to their fishing, many of them wade out into the river as it is relatively shallow here.

Next item of interest is the site of an old bridge crossing the river but the bridge itself is gone. After a short time the river is divided and lots of shrub and trees surround the path.

Further along a marker stone with ‘Inchgarth’ engraved on it, indicates the estate of that name which bordered the river.

About 2 ½ miles from the start the path comes to an end near the huge reservoir. It is necessary to leave the river here and pass through the broom-lined path on to the tarred roadway round the reservoir. Beyond the reservoir buildings, a lot of repair and maintenance work with large stones is preventing further erosion of the river bank. The reservoir is also used for leisure, with boats at the far end. Following the roadway to the right, the walk continues for about ½ a mile, then leaves the roadway and re-enters the woodland, going up to an old farm where the buildings have now been replaced with housing, using a lot of the old granite used on the farm steading.

Passing this the road goes right then left on to Westerton road where access to the old Deeside railway line is gained.

If time allows, a walk to the left on to Inchgarth road will show another suspension bridge across the river – Morrison’s Bridge – again only the cables are left and the roadway or walkway gone.

Going right on to the old railway line, there are lots to see with old station buildings still in use for other activities, information boards, bridges, and platforms where the stations were.

Further on, a large area of garden allotments obviously well used, then the path re-enters housing but still with lots of greenery.

Continuing on, bridges carry road traffic going east and west, under the A90 going north and south and across a new suspension bridge on Holburn Street replacing the railway bridge which had been demolished after the railway closed.

Crossing the Hardgate, the original road into Aberdeen from the south, the walkway terminates at the Duthie Park entrance on Polmuir Road.

With a total distance of under 8 miles and under 3 hours steady walking, it has lots of interest, wildlife, history to keep the walkers interest, and there is always the restaurant at the Duthie Park to top up the caffeine at the end of the walk.

More interest lies in the park itself with a memorial to commemorate the opening by Princess Beatrice as Queen Victoria couldn’t attend, the obelisk which once stood in the quadrangle at Marischal College, as a tribute to the soldier and surgeon who founded the Royal Army Medical Corps. and the David Welch gardens – always worth a visit.

The Hillwalker