Normally, when I travel to Scotland I take 4 days, one day for travel and three days for walking. As I edge closer to home, I decided that I would leave earlier on my travel day and get at least half a day’s walking in. I counted myself as rather lucky with the news that Nicola Spud-gun had placed the City of Aberdeen into lockdown due to a recent surge of Covid-19 cases. which emanated from a pub/restaurant in the city. Fortunately for me I had already passed through the City boundary and was now back in Aberdeenshire. I had booked myself into a hotel in Inverbervie for 3 nights and hoped that I could get most of the way towards Dundee after 3.5 days walking.
I drove to and parked on the sea front at Stonehaven, the drive up and been quick and without delays. I caught the number X7 bus towards Aberdeen, the bus did not stop in Portlethen but on the A90 bypass. The morning was glorious sunshine, but with a refreshing breeze. It did not take long to walk to the railway station in Portlethen where I walked through the station and across the bridge. My first destination was a small village of Downies. I tried to follow an old track on my 1:25000 OS map and, as usual, the track had disappeared many years ago. I had to back track a short distance and so headed into Portlethen village itself and finding an alternative track
The next 2 to 3 miles was mixture of farm track, green lanes and footpaths where I passed through the village of Downies and then onto Cran Hill. I met a number of other walkers/strollers on the lanes. Below Cran Hill I was able to drop below to a cove and cross a footbridge into the large village of Newtonhill. After passing around a large building site which looked to be new housing I picked up another green lane. I spotted the odd sign post, one that particularly caught my eye for the Nave Nortrail, apparently part of the European funded North Sea Trail.
As I walked through the village of Muchalls I spoke to a lady who described a convoluted route south past Easter Muchalls, she talked of various routes onward involving high Bison fences. I tried one of these routes which crossed the railway line, I went through an overgrown field but came to a ravine with impenetrable vegetation, boxed in my the cliff and the railway line for the second time that I had to retrace my steps. I decided the heat of day would be my undoing in trying to find a way through here and so headed for the busy A92, something I always knew was a real possibility. To be fair the A92 was ok, with a pavement for most of the way and the rest on a well-trodden footpath on a wide verge. I was only on the main road for about 40 minutes, which still gave me a brilliant view of the North Sea a few fields away.
I turned off down the road into Stonehaven and took a small footpath to the ruins of St Mary’s church (or Cowie Chapel) on the boundary of the Golf Course. The chapel dates back to 13th Century and fell into ruin about 1540 and was fascinating with many old gravestones and mori symbols. It reminded of the Kilmun Church, near Dunoon which I had visited over 3 years ago. I followed the footpath and dropped down onto the beach which I walked along for a short distance before arriving at the end of the sea front at Stonehaven. The town was reasonably busy, with a long queue for the sea front restaurant. I continued onto the far end of the town, heading for the Police station. I was looking for something not seen by many people. A pair of gravestones set into a garden wall, just behind the police station. These gravestones where from 1608 and 1648 and were for victims of the Plague. I thought about the similar circumstance the world was facing today. I returned to my car and headed off to Inverbervie to find my hotel and my bed for the night.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
Distance today = 11 miles
Total distance =6,055 miles