If you have pony-obsessed youngsters, then a day at Belwade Farm, just off the A947, is the perfect choice for an enjoyable few hours. The World Horse Welfare centre’s farm is open from 11 to 4pm on Wednesday to Sunday and the staff are happy to share the stories of each of the sixty-odd horses and ponies who live there. They range from enormous placid Clydesdales to cheeky little Shetlands.
The setting, in the upper Dee Valley, is particularly lovely at this time of year. Take in the scenery with one of Belwade’s nature walks. The longest route is five miles, but there are easier jaunts along the riverside and through the woods. If you’re lucky, you might spot some of the local wildlife.
Pop into the visitor centre where you can pick up a nature trail map or a guide to Belwade’s fairy houses. If you are very lucky, very quiet and wish hard, you might even spot the fairies flying around. For a tranquil lull, explore Belwade’s stone circle. It’s a beautiful, serene spot. If you’re keen to try geocaching, there’s a mini trail on the farm too.
If all the horse patting has left you a little pooped, then head for Belwade’s bistro. You’ll find everything from locally sourced bacon rolls and scrumptious home-made tray bakes, to family favourites for lunch. Naturally, there’s a decent children’s menu and a well-considered selection of gluten-free and dairy-free choices. Fraught non-drivers will be overjoyed by the Prosecco on the drinks list. They’ll even provide a picnic for al fresco eating if you book in advance.
Belwade is part of World Horse Welfare, the international horse charity which improves the lives of horses around the world.
Belwade Farm Rescue & Rehoming Centre, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire AB34 5BJ Tel: 013398 85398