Activities for Children

Wherever you are in Deeside there are lots of things to do that children of all ages will love - and good fun for adults too! Picnics, walks, bike rides on quiet roads, paddling or swimming, forests and castles, to name but a few! Here is a selection of some of the many places you can go.

Cambus O'May Forest - a great place to spot wildlife amongst the trees. Look out for red squirrels, crossbills and woodpeckers, and of course don't forget the mini beasts - ant's nests are hard to spot but once you've found one you'll see them everywhere!

Burn O'Vat - a brilliant place for exploring hidden caves. There's an easy scramble at the end of a short walk through a beautiful gorge, which leads into the hidden 'Vat'. Good for splashing and getting your wellies wet! The Visitor Centre is just right for kids too, with lots of hand-on activities.

The Linn of Dee and Quoich (please note these are two separate areas) - ideal picnic and paddling spots beside the River Dee, with wonderful short walks through beautiful native pinewoods.

Ballater and Braemar cycle routes - a great way to explore the area at a leisurely pace and to keep children interested. There are a number of specially designed circular cycle routes starting from Ballater and Braemar which follow quiet country roads and tracks. You can hire bikes in both these centres.

Glen Tanar - ideal for picnics on the many attractive grassy areas that lie close to the road, as well as for paddling in the river shallows. The Visitor Centre has information about the walks and cycle routes through the forest, as well as the best spots for seeing wildlife.

Balmoral Castle - You can ride up to the castle in a pony and trap along the beautiful wooded estate drive. Horse riding is also available around the estate, on sturdy Highland ponies.

Glen Muick, Glen Clunie - are good places to spot deer from the road, especially in the evening and during winter.

The Lecht ski area - ride on the chairlift to the top - it's exciting and the views are great. You can also try the go-carts, quad bikes and giant tubes.

Playgrounds - There's an excellent playground for children of all ages on Aboyne Green. There are picnic benches and the whole area is fenced off so you wont have to worry about dogs or escaping children. A bit further afield at Crathes Castle near Banchory, the National Trust for Scotland have an excellent facility in the woods, with an assault course for over eights and a smaller, less daunting area with a sandpit and slide for younger children. There are also playgrounds in Ballater, Braemar and Banchory and a small amusement arcade in Banchory.

Ranger events - Several Deeside destinations have a Ranger Service who organise events throughout the year for children and adults. These include guided walks, fungal forays and environmental art days. You can find out more from the ranger services, or ask at the local Tourist Information Centre.

What to do on a rainy day:

Go swimming - Exchange one wet activity for another and come swimming at the Aboyne community centre pool.

Escape to the east coast - when bad weather sets in from the west, the east coast of Aberdeenshire and Moray is often fine and sunny. Visit Forvie National Nature Reserve, with its massive sand dunes next to the Ythan Estuary. It's a great place for bird watching, as well catching sight of the occasional seal.

You could also try the Stonehaven outdoor pool. If the sea's not too rough, you can take a boat trip out to the spectacular seabird colony on the cliffs of Fowlsheugh. Tours run in the summer from Stonehaven harbour. Contact the RSPB (tel. 01224 624 824) for more information. There is also a superb water adventure play park, on the seafront at Montrose (about an hour's drive from Deeside).

Aberdeen - Aberdeen Beach, Satrosphere (hands-on discovery centre), cinemas and museums.

Hide in a forest - It may be wild and wet out in the open, but the forests in the glens are often sheltered, and just as fun in the wet as they are in the dry!

Visit a castle - Deeside is jam-packed with castles and your children will love imagining that they're mediaeval knights as they tour the castle battlements.

Read a book - there are libraries at Aboyne and Ballater, and storytelling at Banchory library.

For more ideas and a list of local events throughout the year visit:

Aberdeen and Grampian Tourist Board.


Upper Deeside Access Trust · Unit 1, Aboyne Castle Business Centre, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, AB34 5JP
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