Posted by: christinelaennec | July 27, 2013

The Old Deeside Line

Just before I leave, I wanted to show you a very pleasing feature of Aberdeen: the Old Deeside Line.  As you can probably see, it’s a converted railway line that is now used by cyclists and walkers.  It runs from the Duthie Park all the way out to Cults and beyond, i.e. the western suburbs of the city.

Here you can see the old railway platform of what was once Holburn Street Station:

Old Deeside Line, August 2012, near Holburn Street.  The old railway platform.

Old Deeside Line near Holburn Street. The old railway platform of Holburn Street Station.

As one of those people who always semi-leaps across the gap between the train and the platform, for fear of somehow dropping down into it, I find walking past here a little bit strange.  I feel I shouldn’t be here, as if a train will come along any minute!

This railway line was opened in 1894 and must have been a wonderfully quick commute for those living out to the west of the city.  I’d always assumed that the Deeside Line was a victim of the famous Beeching cuts in the 1960s, but in fact the city council website explains that it was closed in 1937, due to the growing popularity of buses.  Go figure!  I would take a train over a bus any day, but I suppose that was before the roads were chock-a-block with so many privately-owned cars.

Old Deeside Line, near the Duthie Park.  Aberdeen, August 2012.

Old Deeside Line, near the Duthie Park, Aberdeen.

The path is beautifully quiet now, but in 1906 the Holburn Street Station was the scene of great excitement.  It was the day of the visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, who came to Aberdeen to open Marischal College.  According to an article by Dr. Bob Drummond in the South Holburn Church Parish Press, “The Aberdeen Journal reported that spectators paid up to five shillings for seats on the railway embankment.  They would have had a good view of the 12.15 arrival but would have been deafened by a nearby 21 gun salute. … So great were the crowds that day, extra police had to be brought in from Dundee and Glasgow. …  The six coach procession made its way up Gray Street to Great Western Road and then by way of Forest Avenue, Albyn Place and Union Street to Broad Street.”  Gray Street is a very steep climb, and I find it hard to imagine six coaches going up the hill.  At least they wouldn’t have had to navigate the sleeping policemen (traffic humps).

If you go for a stroll along the railway line these days, you will smell the beautiful rosa rugosa, and also the lovely liquorice-y scent of wild angelica.

Wild roses on the Old Deeside Line, Aberdeen, August 2012.

Wild roses on the Old Deeside Line, Aberdeen.

It’s become a very important “wildlife corridor” right in the middle of a busy city.  I’ll really miss it!



  1. How fascinating, I had no idea about its existence! Thanks for a very interesting post! (you know how much I love trains!) xxx

  2. I love these old railway line walks but I’m not familiar with this one. I wish I’d known about it when I was in Aberdeen. As you say, they often become wildlife corridors, just as old mine workings and other areas of industrial heritage do. I’m sure there are some nice old railway walks in Glasgow, in fact I seem to remember walking along one near the Botanics.

  3. I regularly walk along the ‘Formartine and Buchan Way’ (or “the liney”, as it’s better known) out here, but didn’t realise there was a similar path in Aberdeen itself. It looks very pretty and I’m pleased you’ve shared it with us as it looks like somewhere intriguing to explore!

  4. I too did not know of the similar path in Aberdeen. The Formartine and Buchan Way passes close to our house and is a wonderful wildlife/flower corridor which the Dawn Patroller used to get to Tescos in Fraserburgh, prior to his bad back/leg, but he still intends to be fit enough to do it again. There are also the old stations along the way now turned into desirable cottages. There are moves afoot to reinstall the railway, well I am all for railways for a variety of reasons but to now destroy this wild life haven is wrong. And the cost!?

  5. What an imaginative way to use the railway line, I could imagine my sister and I playing at being trains along there as kids! I think there’s a railway park near here, I should visit it. Most of the old railway around here has been converted to the tram system, it’s brilliant, quite my favourite mode of transport, walking aside.

  6. It’s a beautiful walkway and a lovely re-use of the historic rail line! We are converting rail lines here along the west coast with the ‘Sound to Mountain’ trail system that goes from Puget Sound to Mt. Rainier. Although, I am not sure we have had such illustrious patronage along our railways. Interesting bit of history and a very pretty trail. I am sure you will find an equally beautiful trail in your new home city. xo

  7. No idea this existed – it’s good to see it still used as a thoroughfare by people and wildlife. Like you, I would far rather take the train than a bus. I’m sure Glasgow has similar for you to discover.

  8. Thanks for sharing such a pretty site with an interesting history, Christine! Even though you are moving away from it, perhaps you will be able to plan to visit it again someday, or at least revisit this post to savor the joy you have known in this place.
    Gracie xx

  9. I wish you all the best Christine in your move and I have so enjoyed your postings of Aberdeen before you leave. The railway lines are great to walk. I hope to visit the High Line in New York City, this fall, long on my wish list.

    Thank you for your kind comments.


  10. What a super place to take a stroll (without fear of being run over by a train). But I’m with you, Christine. I wouldn’t have abandoned the train for a bus.

  11. What a beautiful walkway this is! Glasgow will offer you many green areas that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. 🙂

  12. Thanks for all your comments and kindness, everyone! I’m glad to introduce the Old Deeside Line to folks who may get a chance to walk on it themselves sometime. And yes, I will definitely be on the lookout for similar places in Glasgow.

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