Old Aberdeen Road
Start location: Raitshill, 2km northwest of Pitmedden (NJ 865 283)
End location: 1km north of Tarves at UCR leading to B999 (NJ 865 325)
Geographical area: Grampian
Path Type: Drove Road
Path distance: 5.5km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
Back to Search
This old route can be started at the end of the vehicle road at Raitshill. Ahead is a good hard-surfaced grassy road, 8-10ft wide, which goes northwards to Tarves. After a while, Tolquhon Castle can be seen on the right. As the track goes up a gentle slope, another track appears on the right signposted for Tolquhon, but this old way continues as a sound grassy track with a hard foundation. A wood is passed through, after which the road goes downhill towards Tarves, crossing an old stone bridge. Entering the outskirts, a street sign states "Old Aberdeen Road". As a good metalled road, it leads up to the Aberdeen Arms at The Square. On the opposite side of The Square, a former school is now the Tarves Heritage Centre. To the Centre's left, the former Headmaster's House faces onto Tree Road, a minor surfaced road heading north bounded by houses with gardens as far as the football park on the left in 0.4km. The route then quickly deteriorates to a farm track which continues ahead signed 'Ordhill'. In a further 0.4km, the side track to Ordhill leaves on the right. The undulating track continues northwards and then descends to end at an unclassified road which runs east from the B999. Immediately opposite, there is a tarmac road over an old stone bridge beyond which a sign reads 'Haddo Estate, Estate Office and Mains of Haddo'.
For more photographs of the Old Aberdeen Road, visit Graham Marr's flickr site.
OS Landranger 30 (Fraserburgh, Peterhead & District) and 38 (Aberdeen & surrounding area)
The Old Aberdeen Road was probably once an important route into Aberdeen, but is better known as having been a drove road. In a few places, a hard core base is exposed through the grass confirming that this was a route of earlier significance.
From south of Tarves, this old road is clearly shown on Roy's map of the Highlands (1747-52), however from the village it turns northeast and passes towards Raxton to head over the Ythan. The same route is shown on Aaron Arrowsmith's 1807 map.
The Old Statistical Account (1793) for the parish of Tarves mentions that its grain, butter, cheese and poultry is generally sold at Aberdeen. It also states that "the prices of provisions, are the same as in Aberdeen markets, to which they are usually carried for sale, and where those who need to purchase are supplied". Further, "the only manufacture, carried on in this district, is knitting stockings for the Aberdeen stocking merchants, who furnish the wool and pay for the work". The public roads in the parish are described as being in "tolerable repair", which is just as well as they will have been key to the transport of the above goods to-and-from Aberdeen. There is also mention of Tarves as a small village which although it formerly had an almost monthly fair for black cattle, horses, merchandise and so on, now the parish had only five or six fairs or markets.
In the early nineteenth century, Tarves was developed and expanded into a planned village by the Gordons of Haddo House. The centre moved from the old church with the creation ofThe Square, including the establishment of the Aberdeen Arms which opened in 1810. Although this Inn does sit beside the Old Aberdeen Road, it faces onto The Square parallel to what became the main route through Tarves. The turnpike road (now the B999) to the east of Tarves was laid out in 1825; such an improvement to the road network will likely have seen traffic abandon the Old Aberdeen Road, although many users may still have preferred it for its lack of tolls.
This old road is still greatly valued by the community. In 2011, Tarves Heritage Project received funding to restore the route and make this popular walking route more accessible.