Today was going to be a very hot day, fortunately the temperatures did not rise as high as predicted, but it was still very warm. I decided to make a very early start, so I drove south to St. Cyrus where I parked in a tiny car park on the cliff top. From there I walked back into St. Cyrus to catch the first available bus to Stonehaven. I caught the #X7 5:42 bus heading north, it was strange passing through Inverbervie and past my hotel window where I had departed from an hour earlier.
I set off walking from Stonehaven at 06:15 and immediately set off up the steep path towards the War Memorial. The view back over Stonehaven was superb on this sunny summer morning. The first port of call was the War Memorial and from there I could easily make out the beautiful and dramatic Dunnottar Castle. There was an excellent path that came up from Stonehaven to the Castle itself. The castle with its dramatic position and situation it is a well visited castle and one of the iconic images of Scotlands East Coast..
A short distance past the castle the cliff top path disappeared, which I suspected would happen. I struggled on between the fields and the cliff top through deep vegetation. It was extremely tough going and I knew I could not keep this up for the duration of the walk. Relief came when I entered the Fowlsheugh RSPB reserve, as I soon as I passed a bird hide the path improved dramatically. The smell of stinking rotten fish and the cacaphony of bird sound soon came with thousands of nesting Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Herring Gulls on the cliffs below me. I arrived at the hamlet of Crawton and decided I needed a break from the cliff-top waking. I headed up a field to join a minor lane, which was virtually devoid of any traffic.
I continued past the village of Catterline and came to a small cottage where the owner had sown and decorated a large part of the verges near his cottage with large sunflowers and other beautiful flowers. Here I met Geordie Mair and we spoke to at length for some time about gardening and all sorts of things. As I bid him goodbye he kindly gave me two ripe tomatoes which I enjoyed over the next mile or so. The minor road I was on headed back towards the sea and I passed a number of small hamlets including Whistleberry and Kinneff. Near to a place called Grange I followed a track up towards some radio transmitter towers. I stayed to the right of the fenced in towers and headed downhill. I emerged close to the bridge which led into Inverbervie itself.
It was quite warm as I walked past the hotel I was staying in, so I headed for the co-op and bought some cool drinks and a warm sausage roll. I dropped down to the sea shore to eat and drink my lunch. I knew from reading the map that nearly all the difficult walking was done for the day. I soon came upon a chap who was busy attaching a honeysuckle to the mast of a small wooden boat on a patch of grass, the boat was decked out with more flowers and plants, obvviously this boat was now just used for decorative purposes. I asked the chap if it was his boat, he said yes and the boat once belonged to a local fisherman. This boat was the fisherman’s second boat, his first boat he burnt after his son was drowned out in the Bay on a fishing trip. The fisherman went into a nursing home where this chap befriended him. He asked about this second boat had been left rotting under a tree nearby and the fisherman gave the chap this boat just before he passed away. The chap who I spoke to had repainted the boat and preserved it as a beautiful wooden flower bed. The chap also pointed out that the boat was sitting in the centre of a circle of stones. This was the turntable for the engine that ran along the railway line to Montrose. Inverbervie was the end of this branch line, which last ran a train back in 1966.
The old railway track was very easy going and I joined a few people who were making their way to a small village 2 miles away called Gourdon. As I passed around Gourdon harbour and its small harbour I could see a large French registered ‘artic’ being loaded with all kinds of shellfish. My eye was almost immediately drawn to the mural on the side of the pub close-by – The Harbour Bar. The mural of a large trawler totally took up the whole of the gable end of the pub – it was a beautiful! I would have popped in for a pint, but because of the current situation I am very cautious at the moment with any external drinking and eating places.
I continued on along the path towards Johnshaven. Although also an historic fishing village it did not appear to have the charm or pub mural as Gourdon! Not far from Johnshaven the old railway track climbed the cliffs and I had to revert to a patchy sea shore path. As I entered Montrose Bay I had to head inland a short distance before emerging near the Rock All Fishing Station. The start of the cliff-top path warned here that proceeding would at your own risk as the path had seen some subsidence. About half-way along the overgrown path an aged sign informed me that the path was closed for my own safety. I ignored the sign and could not see why it had been placed there in the first place. I have walked along far more exposed National Trails than this path and there was no way I was turning back with my car just 400m away.
A fascinating, interesting and enjoyable days walk, well at least the latter half.
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 = 20 miles
Total distance =6,075 miles