Pitfour Observatory was built in 1845 by the fifth Laird of Pitfour, Admiral Sir George Ferguson, so that he and his guests could watch horse racing. The Laird had constructed a four and a half mile race course to indulge his passion for horse racing, without having to leave his own estate. The race course was exactly 50 feet wide and level, with all troughs levelled with rock from local quarries. The course was nicknamed the “Ascot of the North”.
The Observatory was purchased and renovated in the 1990s by the local authority. It’s open daily 10 – 17 from May to September and it’s free of charge to enter. There are great panoramic views from the windows in the octagonal tower, with information boards detailing all the local landmarks.
The Observatory is fairly well sign posted from the the A952 running between Mintlaw and Fraserburgh and the A950 west of Mintlaw. If you are following the signs from the A950 make sure you take the first, sharp left, a mile or so at the 2nd junction once you’ve left the A950. The sign isn’t clear there, as there are 2 left turns If you drive past a graveyard you have taken the wrong turn. There’s a large car park with picnic benches. It only takes a few minutes to walk to the conservatory There are several possible walks in the woods and you can also visit the Louden Wood Stone Circle and a chambered cairn but this involves a much longer walk and I didn’t have time to do this.