Karen Bayliss knew every blade of grass and every branch at the former site of what has now become Aberdeen newest town, Countesswells. Following years of riding her horse, Jerry, through the greenspace, Karen and her family were initially dubious of the incoming town. However,three years on from moving her horse out of the area, the Bayliss’ are now proud homeowners in Countesswells.
We caught up with Karen (and Jerry) about why she chose life there.
Q: You’ve had quite a history with Countesswells, where did it all begin?
I first became involved with Countesswells in 2005 when I moved my horses to the site. I rented land at Colthill farm where I kept horses from 2005 to 2014 and in this time, I rode all around and became very familiar with the whole area.
In addition, there used to be a large equestrian centre, Loanhead, where the Kirkwood houses now are. I competed there and you could get lessons as well. After moving my horses to other stables, I eventually ended up at Mains of Countesswells and it was here that I began to see plans for Countesswells come to fruition. I’ve basically been here and seen everything from when the first ground was broken.
Q: And has it always been a positive relationship?
When the first plans were made public in 2007, I went along to the meetings with friends. Our first and only priority was to see how it was going to affect us because the area in the plans were hugely populated by horses and horse owners like us. I remember asking one of the guys about the access for riders. He told us they planned to keep all the core paths and link up the forests, which at the time meant nothing to me. There was nowhere for the horses, and that was my main concern.
However, things soon changed when I began to see everything being built. With my horses still on one side of Countesswells road, we used to take them across the road to the fields. Not only did I build a strong relationship with the workers on site, but I started to become more attached to the growing town. I could see the plans in place and witness them come to life. It was going to be a special town and I wanted to be a part of that.
We decided we would move to Countesswells in 2017. They had only sold a few houses and we put our name down for one. To me, there’s nothing as exciting as building a house and seeing your home developed from the ground up. I was still riding through on the core paths and seeing it all come together. I saw it from foundation to finish, the whole thing from day one. A lot of people don’t get to see that, it really was amazing.
Q: What are your favourite features of Countesswells?
The location is so lovely. With greenspace all around us, and just a short walk from Countesswells Woods, the town gives the feel of country-living, but yet, you’re not far from the city.
The accessibility means that if you want to take your dog for a walk you just pop your wellies on and off you go.
I love the number of wildflowers and the focus on biodiversity. Obviously, there was some disturbance to wildlife during development but its all coming back as it all comes together, and the community and developers are working together to see our bio-diversity continue to blossom.
At one point it was a big piece of flattened land with nothing on it. Now it’s this amazing place with attention to detail in the orchard, sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), and the Cults Burn flowing through. All for the benefit of the area’s biodiversity.
Q: Was it important that you brought up a family in a place with traditional features?
Definitely. My children and I go for walks around the estate with the dogs and its not just walking down streets. They are 19 and 17 years old and they spend so much time indoors and on technology, it’s nice to be able to get out together. Alongside this, the events run by the team behind the development have been a superb way to explore more around the site whilst catching up with neighbours and the community.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about moving to Countesswells?
Why wouldn’t you want to live in a place like Countesswells?We have ancient forests right on our doorstep and the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Green space has been preserved and improved. There are loads of developments around but Countesswells is special.
I know every inch of it and I love seeing it grow and getting to know it even better.