If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a big surprise. Or yesterday, at least. And not bears, but haggis. Sprinkled with a bit of fairy dust … let us explain.
Formartine’s, in the heart of Aberdeenshire, has become of our favourite stomping grounds. On the edge of the Haddo Estate, the restaurant and food hall has gone from strength to strength since springing into life a few years ago – but there’s more than fine food on offer, with woodland walks around the banks of the old lake (not a loch!) the other half of the magic formula.
But anyway, back to the haggis. To follow on from the Burns Night celebrations, Formartine’s lifted the lid on a little known secret – forests full of haggis, or haggii. The 4th annual Haggis Hunt ran on January 28 and 29, with the overflowing car park a good pointer to its popularity.
Not quite as hard to find as wee timorous beasties, the elusive haggis weren’t easy to spot – but they were there if you looked hard enough. Armed with a map (and obligatory tammy hat), we hunted down a handful of them lurking among the tree roots and under rocks.
Trails wind their way around the fishing lake, with bridges for pooh sticks as well as swings to rest weary welly-clad feet dotted through the woods, making it the perfect spot to while away an afternoon.
As for the fairy dust, you need to look closely for that too – but the signs are there. In the bases of trees and carved into trunks, a network of fairy houses to discover suggests the haggii don’t live alone. They’d even hung out the tartan bunting in honour of the Bard.
There’s always something different to explore and little surprises to enjoy, making it one of the great walking spots in the north-east for families with young children.
The lure of a cake, coffee or something more substantial from the mouth-watering Formartine’s menu at the end of a gentle walk is always there too. When the weather’s clear the restaurant’s outside terrace is a lovely option, overlooking the ever-popular woodland play park.
Neighbouring the National Trust for Scotland’s stunning Haddo House, just a 45-minute drive from Aberdeen, there’s plenty to see and do for those keen to make a day of it. It comes highly recommended – whether in haggis season or not.