Loves and livelihoods

Judy Mackie tours Aden Country Park

Aden Country Park in Aberdeenshire is both a nature reserve and farming heritage centre, and the lush 250-acre Mintlaw estate holds a magical attraction for its visitors, many of whom return time and again.

For teachers of the Scottish 5-14 curriculum especially, Aden is a great source of inspiration, offering myriad hands-on opportunities. The forested grounds feature numerous nature walks and a variety of indigenous flora and fauna. The ranger services division will provide guided walks and wildlife studies tailored to support specific class projects.

For an insight into the social, technological and economic aspects of traditional farm and estate life over 200 years, the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum and Hareshowe Farm offer a rich harvest of audio-visual, interactive and hands-on experiences without idealising the living and working conditions.

During a week of activities, a class of nine-year-olds from Stuartfield Primary School spent a day animal spotting in the forest with one of the rangers.

Teacher Lesley Brown then directed her pupils to the estate's agricultural attractions. One of the four guided tours is of an audio-visual exhibition, Weel Vrocht Grun (Well Worked Ground). Through imaginative scenery, models, authentic farming implements and atmospheric sound effects unfolds the story of the Buchan farming community's long struggle to transform the bleak, inhospitable north-east landscape into the rich, loamy farmland famous today.

The exhibition was enhanced by the colourful tales of the guide, Jean Sloan, who dramatically conveyed the harshness of the farm labourer's lot, and had the children translating Doric poems on themes of lost lives, loves and livelihoods.

Aden Farming Museum and Country Park, Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire.Tel: 01771 622906

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