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Aberdeenshire Area Guide

Aberdeenshire from Dunnydeer Hill Image courtesy of Flickr user Gordon M Robertson

Aberdeenshire is something of an oddity in Scotland as the Aberdeenshire council area does not include Aberdeen anymore, as the city has grown big enough to necessitate its own council. Still, because it has traditionally been located in the city, the Aberdeenshire Council has its headquarters in Aberdeen, making it the only council in Scotland to have its headquarters outside of its borders.

The county has traditionally relied on farming, fishing and forestry for its economic stability, but in the last half-century, the oil and gas industry and the service sectors have grown to become a major source of income. This has led to a population boom, as people have flocked to the area to work in the new industries. Many of these are based in Aberdeen, so a large proportion of Aberdeenshire residents commute to work in the city every day.

Aberdeenshire is also the home of many important buildings and historic sites, including Balmoral, one of the Queen's few private residences.

Demographics

Aberdeenshire is a vital part of Scotland. The population of the county is about 247,600 or 4.7% of Scotland's total. Still, Aberdeenshire's contributes just over 5% of Scotland's GDP. When Aberdeen's contributions are considered with Aberdeenshire's , that skyrockets to almost 17% of the total.

The five largest settlements in Aberdeenshire are Peterhead, with 17,790 residents; Fraserburgh, with 12,540 residents; Inverurie, with 11,590; Westhill, with 11,220 and Stonehaven, with 10,820.

Aberdeenshire has an older population than the rest of Scotland. Just over 15% of the population are aged between 16 and 29, though the Scottish average is almost 19%. Inversely, 23.6% of the population of the county is aged 60 and over, which is slightly larger than Scotland's 23.3%.

Aberdeenshire follows Scottish national trends when it comes to ethnic diversity in the population: Over 99% of the population of Aberdeenshire is white, compared to almost 98% in the rest of the country. Interestingly, almost 14% of the Aberdeenshire population describes themselves as white but not Scottish, whereas less than 10% of the Scottish population as a whole does the same.

Education

Aberdeenshire has 151 primary schools serving more than 20,000 students, and the HMIe reports have marked out many schools for their excellence. Amongst these, Daviot School is praised for its "high quality teaching which enables children to learn well and achieve highly… [and] the quality of children's writing across the school." The Hill of Banchory School is highlighted for "the outstanding leadership of the head teacher, [and the] commitment and teamwork of all staff, in taking forward continuous school improvement… [and] the impact of the high and increasing expectations held by all staff, children and their parents, for all children's learning and achievement."

There are also 17 secondary schools serving 16,000 students from S1 to S6. Amongst the top secondaries is Banchory Academy, which has "outstanding levels of attainment in national examinations by the end of S6… [and a] rich and varied range of learning opportunities provided for young people by staff and partners". Mearns Academy is noted for "the outstanding leadership of the head teacher, highly effective arrangements to support vulnerable learners [and] the high-quality service of the library and its contribution to learning."

Transport

As a rural area, there aren't tonnes of transport links in Aberdeenshire, but surrounding Aberdeen means there are a couple of great connections. The main roads are the A90, running along the eastern coast down to Dundee, and A96 connecting Aberdeen with Inverness. There are also bus routes throughout the county, connecting the farthest reaches with Aberdeen.

Train stations in Aberdeenshire are along three rail lines: the Aberdeen to Inverness line, the Edinburgh to Aberdeen line, and the Glasgow to Aberdeen line. The Aberdeen to Inverness line runs through Inverurie, and the Edinburgh to Aberdeen line connects with Stonehaven. The Glasgow to Aberdeen line also runs through Stonehaven and also Dundee.

Aberdeen Airport is the nearest airport, although it is technically within the borders of Aberdeen. Services to destinations throughout the United Kingdom and Europe include ones to Dublin, Paris and London.

Amenities and Shopping

The most popular activities in Aberdeenshire tend to revolve around the gorgeous countryside.

Outdoor activities

Aberdeenshire residents can take advantage of the snow-capped Cairngorm Mountain range and Cairngorm National Park where they can ski, hike, canoe and cycle to their hearts' content. Throughout the county, the many sandy beaches, fishing ports, rivers, lochs and seas offer ample opportunities for water sports.

There are a large number of castles and notable buildings such as Crathes Castle, Drum Castle (which may have been designed by medieval architect Richard Cementarius) and the remains of a Roman marching camp at Raedykes.

Music and festivals

The space in Aberdeenshire makes it ideal to host festivals. The COAST festival is located in Banff and Macduff, and it features visual arts exhibitions and other events. The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy has small sailing crafts, including restored Fiffies and Zulus, food and international folk music. The Turriff Show is the largest two-day agricultural fair in Scotland.

Museums, galleries and theatres

The Banchory Museum has 18th to 20th century tartans and an exhibition on composer J. Scott Skinner, and the Banff Museum has collections of the famous Banff silver, as well as arms and armour, natural history, astronomy and geology exhibitions. The Grampian Transport Museum, which covers the history of road travel and the vehicles that used those roads, is one of the most popular destinations in the county, and the Macduff Marine Aquarium is a destination for families.

There are also some significant smaller museums. At Fordyce Joiner's Workshop and Visitor Centre, visitors can discover the necessity of the local carpenter in the days before mass production, and the Tolbooth Museum is an actual 17th century jail. The Aberdeenshire Farming Museum has been set up to be a 1950s working farm.

The main theatrical venue is the Woodend Barn Arts Centre in Banchory. There, residents can experience plays, musicals, comedy and even some classic films.

Shopping

Shopping in Aberdeenshire involves one of two options. Either residents head into the towns' high streets, which have the typical mix of fashion shops and grocery stores, or they explore the independent stores off the beaten track. Each town has its own galleries featuring the work of local artists, as well as little shops selling local produce, food, whisky and sports equipment.

A trip to the middle of the county turns up Huntly Herbs, a farm that sells homemade jams, jellies, sauces and chutneys. Further inland and up into the Cairngorms reveals the Whisky Castle and Highland Market, specialising in single cask malts. They even mix up a few of their own batches. At the seaside town of Peterhead, the bay is surrounded by fishing shops and seafood suppliers.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact editor@primelocation.com

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.