Castles and calamities
Tina Fox, VfL Director (Scotland) tells of her recent adventures in Aberdeenshire
We drove up from Moffat to Gardenstown with few stops – we had our cat with us! Rather a long drive but she was good.
Our arrival was somewhat disastrous. Already tired after the long drive, we had to navigate the steep and winding road down to Gardenstown. It was even worse when we arrived. Our cottage was located off a one car track with the sea on one side. Very scary!
There was only one restaurant in the area, serving just steak and fish, so nothing for us veggies. Then we discovered the cottage only had a microwave and no cooker. It made the food we had brought with us a bit difficult to cook and called for creativity.
The next day we braved the road up and went down the coast to Banff, a pleasant place with more food choices. A French restaurant there had some appealing veggie dishes.
We visited Fyvie Castle (pictured), which was gorgeous; really romantic and atmospheric. It had wood panelling and intricate but early plaster ceilings and comfortable liveable sized rooms. We had a nice pea and watercress soup here – you can nearly always rely on National Trust and National Trust for Scotland properties to cater well for vegetarians.
We drove back via Turiff, an appealing little town, and Delgatie Castle – a private castle run by a trust with a lovely tea room and nice gardens.
On Monday the weather really warmed up. We drove along the coast to Portsoy, which has a lovely 17th century harbour and interesting homemade ice cream. I tried the Turkish delight flavour. Very nice.
We moved on to Fordyce. A fabulous village full of nice gardens and houses; a castle dating to 1592 (not open to the public); and an amazing Victorian joiners' workshop, which was owned by the community as a living museum.
Further down the coast we visited Cullen, where we found an interesting antique centre. It had a reasonable café with simple food such as sandwiches with salad or soup.
Tuesday the weather continued fine and we visited two National Trust for Scotland properties. Pitmeddan had wonderful gardens and an interesting farm museum but Haddo House was rather disappointing. Both were okay for food with homemade veggie soups and an interesting veggie pâté at Pitmeddan.
We stopped off for a chippie tea at Macduff and were pleased to see quite a few veggie items on the menu: veggie burger, battered mushrooms,mozzarella sticks, wraps and homemade Macaroni cheese.
On Wednesday we went to Aberdeen, mostly pottering around the shops but also to the art gallery for exhibitions. There are no dedicated vegetarian restaurants in Aberdeen but it is very vegetarian friendly with lots of Italian, Mediterranean and Indian restaurants serving a good choice of dishes.
Thursday turned out to be an antique day but we started off at Leith Hall, a gorgeous property with enchanting gardens. We went to Deans visitor centre in Huntley for lunch but that was a big disappointment. Very little choice for vegetarians and when my other half asked for just egg and chips they charged for sausage as well and made a big fuss about the mistake.
We then went across to the coast and paid a return visit to Cullen where we had the best banana and walnut cake I have ever tasted at the delightful Rockpool café.
Back home Friday because we had things to catch up on, much to the sorrow of our little cat who had really enjoyed her stay by the seaside!
All in all we found we could get by in Aberdeenshire. But other than the main city it was not as veggie friendly as other parts of Scotland. If in doubt, go to a National Trust café!