“ Aberdeen / Scotland „
Duthie Park. A place I basically lived in as a child. Now I'm older (not much older mind you), I'm still there all the time, just not for the see-saw. Some people forget that parks aren't just for children. They forget that parks are in fact beautiful places that anyone can enjoy. Duthie Park is definitely one of those parks.
Duthie Park is situated very near the centre of of the city, just a 5-10 minute brisk walk from the centre of town, it is easily accessible from all areas in Aberdeen so no one has to miss out or travel very far. Luckily, it only takes me 15 minutes to walk there, so I can enjoy the beauty anytime I wish but now I'm just bragging.
Not only is the park near the centre of town, but it is accessible from every corner. With car parks at the lower and top ends of the park, you never have to worry about having to walk too far. There are plenty paths to enter the park that are only accessible by foot, bicycle, scooter etc. These are evenly spread all around the park so even though the park covers a large area, you don't have to walk a mile round the outside to get into it.
Once you actually get into the park, you are met with plenty things to do. 2 play parks with swings, chutes, see-saws, climbing frames etc, winter gardens and hot house, 2 ponds (one with seasonal kayaking), a rose hill perfect for a romantic stroll, a bandstand with regular performances, plenty grassy areas for sunbathing, football, frisbee, running etc, a basketball court, a cafe/restaurant with toilet facilities, free standing toilets near the rosehill, forest areas and a gift shop.
As you can imagine, you can easily spend a few hours or even a whole day in the park without getting bored, it just depends how you spend your time.
Personally, I don't use the playparks often. Not to say that I don't use them, I regularly take a walk to the park in the evening with my best friend and a latte and we'll sit on the swings and have a gossip, but this isn't why I love the Duthie Park. I love to go running at the park. I currently have a lot of free time and like to go during the day throughout the week to run a few laps of the park, taking in the nature and the beautiful sculpture work, clearing my head and getting a good workout. This is all for free might I add, as there is no admission fee to the park.
I'm not sure I can explain just how much I've fallen in love with this park lately.
I remember being 5 years old and swinging on the swings for hours. Rain or shine, it was my favourite activity.
I remember being 10 years old and swinging on the monkey bars with my friends the playing kiss chase among the trees.
I remember being 13/14/15 and going to the park late at nights with my friends to play 2 man hunt in the bushes or have a bit of a drink (we were rebel children apparently).
I have some wonderful memories in that park (and some not so wonderful memories), but I have never loved it so much as I do now.
So here I am, declaring my love for the Duthie Park, I just wish you could share it's beauty with me.
Thanks for reading!
Duthie Park is one of Aberdeen's main attractions. It is located beside the River Dee, on the way into the city from the south, on Riverside Drive although the official address is Polmuir Road, which is tucked away at the rear of the park. The main car park can be accessed from Riverside Drive. You can also catch the number 17 or 21 bus from the city centre to the park.
The park covers 44 acres, and includes lots of things to see and do. It opened in the later part of the nineteenth century, and remains a favourite with locals all year round, but especially in summertime.
Beside the main car park you will find one of the two childrens playparks. The most obvious feature of this one is the incredibly long double slide, which is prominent even from the road! It has been there for many years, so I can report from my childhood that it is great fun, but can be a little daunting for younger children.
Also beside the car park is the boating pond. It is large and rectangular, and rather uninspired. It also tends to be full of green slimy stuff and isn't the most attractive - although I have heard that the ponds in the park may be getting refurbished.
The main area of the park consists of a large green surrounded by trees and footpaths. On the green there is the bandstand, which does get used, and a cricket pitch - quite far from its natural environment of sunny England, but again it is well used in summer! When there is no cricket on you'll often find people playing Frisbee or having a kick about with a football. This large area also plays host to various events, including the city's own music festival, Free at the Dee, and Techfest. Keep an eye out around the city to see what's going on.
Carrying on along the path beside the green, on the same side of the park as the playpark by the entrance, you'll pass statues and memorials, all of which are worth stopping and taking a look at. Once you reach the edge of the green, you'll find the other playpark, which is smaller but perhaps more suitable for younger children - its quite new so I didn't play on it as a child, but it features climbing frames and small slides all in the layout of a train. In this area there used to be loads of impressive and fun wooden statues, which kids could climb on. However these didn't stand up to the Aberdeen weather too well, and ended up looking rather sorry for themselves - last time I was in the park, they had gone, but I hope they get more.
Just beyond the playpark is a large glass structure. This houses the famous Winter Gardens, the reason for many people visiting Duthie Park. The building was rebuilt in the 1970s, but the Gardens have been there much longer. The Winter Gardens is a large collection of plants, all housed within this complex of greenhouses and in a suitably warm atmosphere. The Gardens are very attractive, and have many paths winding between the plants, and plenty of ponds containing fish.
The Gardens including a large cactus house, reputedly with the largest cactus collection in the UK. Included in the cactus house is the infamous Talking Cactus - a favourite with Aberdonian kids, and something which we all grew up with. It is a fake cactus which house a camera in its eye, so when kids talk to it a member of staff watching the camera can talk back using a microphone. Unfortunately it is not always staffed - in recent years I haven't been too interested in it so I can't comment on how often it is staffed these days.
Other highlights of the Gardens include the fairly new Japanese garden, which is actually located outside in a courtyard, and has haikus inscribed on the paving stones, and the frog! The frog is in one of the ponds in the Gardens, with no fish in it but which is used as a wishing well so it is full of coins. The frog is large, very green and plastic, and works on some motor which causes it to pop above the surface every minute or so. Again, this is very popular with local children.
In the same building as the Winter Gardens is the park café. It serves snacks and sandwiches, and does a brisk trade in ice cream as soon as there is a hint of summer. The café isn't too bad, but if the weather is good it's far more fun to bring a picnic and then get ice creams from the café. There are toilets in the café and in the Gardens themselves.
Another attraction within the park is the rose hill, which is I believe a memorial. It is located past the Winter Gardens, in the corner of the park. If you visit in spring or summer, you find all the roses in bloom and it really is quite a sight. There is a path to the top of the hill - it's not very high or steep, but still may not be easy for those with impaired mobility.
In general, access around the park is very good. The paths are all concrete and fairly smooth, and although there are a couple of slopes they are not too steep. The Winter Gardens are fully wheelchair accessible.
Duthie Park is the ideal spot to spend a sunny summers day, where you can enjoy the sunshine, take in the cricket and let the kids play in the playparks. Even if the weather isn't great you can visit the Winter Gardens - and it has to be said, thats more often the case in Aberdeen! But you will find the locals are optimistic, and as soon as there is a glimmer of sunshine, we decide it's summer.
It is also great fun in the snow - there are some small slopes for sledging down, plenty of flat ground for building snowmen, and a free for all snowball fight!
The park is open from 8am until one hour before dusk all year round, although in reality this only means it is closed to cars as the walls are very low. Not that I would advise visiting at night, it is very dark. The Winter Gardens open 9.30am to 6.30pm in summer, and close at 3.30pm in winter. As I remember there is no entrance charge to the Gardens, but donations are requested.
The park is noted for the winter gardens with tropical and arid houses.