Local attractions and sites of interest

Here's a few ideas of places to go and things to see when you are visiting Stonehaven.
Sandy’s fairy path

Sandy’s fairy path

For the young and not so young alike. Take a stroll 400 metres up the road in a westerly direction, turn right at the junction on the brae and after a couple of hundred metres you will find on the left two entrances to the fairy path, (either side of a house set in its own grounds which is private). You can wonder at the many artefacts donated by visitors from all over the world and even leave your own memento. Created by the landowner for his own amusement, you may be lucky enough to meet Sandy where you will be sure to “hae a news” in the local dialect. If you are a fan of the Simpson’s it would not be surprising to know that Matt Groening must have been to this locality for his tattie holidays as a “loon”.

Catterline Village

Catterline Village

Catterline is an unspoilt cliff-top village one and a quarter miles from the Boathouse. Turn in an easterly direction and take the road signposted to Catterline across the A92. The Creel Inn is in Catterline and serves delicious locally caught seafood and has a selection of fine real ales.

Catterline is a cluster of cliff-top fishermen’s cottages above a shingle beach. It was home to the Scottish artist Joan Eardley whose scenes of Glasgow tenement life, contrast with the seascapes and cliff-top cottages that are exhibited in galleries around the world. Catterline was a home to smugglers in by-gone days and the “Watchie”, or watchman’s cottage is now a studio for visiting artists, many of whom welcome visitors to view their work.

There are interesting rock formations at either end of the bay. The “Diels knob” down by the pier is a pudding stone conglomerate reminiscent of the devil reclining on the foreshore excited by what the local maids might offer.

At the other end the dropped ice cream cone of “Forley Craig” is just by the seal rock where a colony of grey seals bask and breed.  On the way round the bay the pudding stone cliff makes ideal nesting sites for visiting house martins.

The remnants of the salmon fishers winches and drying greens can be seen beside the fishers bothy which is now used by Montrose Sub-aqua club.

Small boats can be launched from the beach and fresh lobster and crab can often be bought directly from Jack the last lobsterman working from Catterline.

Fowlsheugh and the Crawton

Fowlsheugh and the Crawton

Cross the A92 heading for Catterline and at the small junction , turn left. After 1000 metres turn right and continue down to Fowlsheugh and the small settlement of Crawton (“The Craat’n”).

The RSPB reserve at Fowlsheugh is the largest seabird colony on mainland Britain. During the breeding season up to 130,000 birds nest on these cliffs. The main species are kittiwakes, guilemots and razorbills. Fulmars are also present in smaller numbers.  There is also a small colony of puffins which is found at the north end of the cliff top path just across from the bird viewing shelter, which marks the end of the path. Please be aware that these cliffs are dangerous and children should be closely supervised at all times.

Occasional pods of dolphins and minke whales can be also be sighted chasing the mackerel shoals  which run up and down this coast in the summer season.

By walking in a southerly direction past the houses, there is a path leading down to a shingle beach which is ideal as a quiet picnic spot. This is also a popular spot for sea fishing, especially during the mackerel season.

Todhead Lighthouse

Todhead Lighthouse

The lighthouse is one mile south of Catterline village. It was built by the famous light house Stevenson family, (whose number includes the author Robert Louis Stevenson). The lighthouse no longer operates, having been superseded by GPS, but its stark beauty reminds us of the many wrecks that dot this most rugged coastline. There are interesting rock formations and mineral outcrops in the cliffs around the shore.

Kinneff Old Church

Kinneff Old Church

The secret hiding place of the Scottish Crown Jewels.

From Catterline village, turn left over the bridge and go left at the next junction ( Mains of Catterline). Continue in a southerly direction past the road end for Todhead for approximately two miles and take the road signposted for the old church.

During the English civil war the Scottish nobility were loyal to the Stuart King Charles the First against the Roundhead army of Oliver Cromwell. The Scottish Crown Jewels were being guarded at Dunnottar Castle by the Earl Marischal, when Cromwells army laid siege to capture these symbols of ancient royalty.

During the siege, the Regalia were smuggled out of the castle by the wife of the minister at the old church at Kinneff , and buried under the nave of the church until the Stuart King Charles the Second was put back on the throne and crowned on the ancient Stone of Destiny at Scone. A storyboard in the church tells this tale of loyalty, cunning and heroism.

The Crown Jewels were subsequently lost, only to be found in a chest in Edinburgh Castle by Sir Walter Scott, several hundred years later. They are now on permanent display in Edinburgh castle.

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

This is one of the most photographed castles in Britain. It attracts visitors from all over the world and is 3miles north of the Boathouse, just off the A92, 1 mile South of Stonehaven.

Words cannot capture the drama of this ancient fortress; set on a promontory, impregnable from both land and sea and prominent in many chapters of Scottish history. In more recent times it has been Shakespeare’s Elsinore in Mel Gibson’s production of Hamlet.

To be or not to be  ? that was his question but a better question could be heard down in a Stonehaven shoe shop.

“Fit fits fit fit ?”

And the answer was

“At een on at een an at een on at een”.

(Person trying on a shoe …”Which (shoe) fits which foot ?”
Shop Assistant ….. “That one on that one and that one on that one”)

Stonehaven (aka Stoney)

Stonehaven (aka Stoney)

Is a small town with many attractions. It is 4 miles north of the Boathouse and 15 miles South of Aberdeen. The Hogmanay fireball ceremony attracts visitors from around the world as do the annual folk and real ale festivals. The art deco open air swimming pool and lido are among the last places in the country where you can swim in warm salt water while being braced by the cool air. Swimming outdoors in the rain is a real treat. There are excellent restaurants, coffee shops and pubs where you can while away the hours after a walk up the Bervie Braes to Dunnotar. You can watch the surfers while admiring the sculptures on the beach promenade. There’s lots to do in Stoney.

The coastal route – South to Montrose & beyond

The coastal route – South to Montrose & beyond

A drive down to Montrose is well worth the trip. Montrose is 15 miles South on the A92 and there are a number of small villages on the way, worth stopping off for. Inverbervie is about 4 miles south and has a co-op supermarket and shingle beach. Just before reaching Inverbervie, turn inland in the direction of Fordoun into Arbuthnott.  About 3 miles from this turning is the Grassic Gibbon centre where you can have a coffee while learning about one of Scotland’s greatest authors and the land that bore him. Back on the coast, Gourdon is a small fishing village where line caught fish are landed nearly every day. The fish shop on the jetty has the freshest fish you will find anywhere. The nearby harbour bar is one of our favourite pubs. At the next village Johnshaven – (aka Johnner) the fishermen specialise in lobsters and crabs. There are some interesting craft shops in the village and the Maggie Law lifeboat museum.

 St Cyrus is a fairly ordinary group of houses that hide one of the true gems of North East Scotland. St Cyrus beach and nature reserve are at the foot of the cliffs. Turn left at the Old Bakery just as you enter the village, pass the church to reach the cliff-top path. You can also go through the village and take either of the next two roads on the left to reach the nature reserve car park.

Peregrine falcons and paragliders share these cliffs and this year a hump back whale was cruising off the beach ambushing the salmon migrating up the mouth of the river North Esk.

Another 4 miles takes you into Montrose. The high street with its houses built gable-end onto the street, gives the townspeople their nick name the gable-endies. There is a beachside activity park for kids, championship  links golf course and  Montrose Basin, one of the most important stopping off points for migratory birds in Europe. Further south lies Lunan Bay , another fine beach, Auchmithie where the Arbroath smokie was invented and Arbroath itself where the Scots nobility declared their independence from English oppression, in the Declaration of Arbroath.

The Inland Route – take a trip over Bruxie Hill

The Inland Route – take a trip over Bruxie Hill

If Don Quixote came to Scotland he would be turning cartwheels as you are now in windmill country. Aberdeenshire has adopted the carbon free future in a big way, or more likely the canny farmers have realised there’s mair siller in wind than in tatties and you can probably see 60 windmills dotting the hill tops on this route.

After hitting the A90 dual carriageway, travel South for 8 miles down to the Fordoun turn-off and you can visit Castleton farm which is one of the largest fruit growing enterprises in the UK and has an excellent restaurant and shop.

 Keep heading inland to the village of Auchenblae where a 9 hole golf course has tested many a budding Paul Lawrie and continue on into Drumtochty Glen. This will take you to the foot of the Cairn o Mount, which on a clear day you can see down to Dundee. After a detour to put your stone on the cairn, travel another 4 miles to Fettercairn where you can visit the distillery. A further 4 miles south as you approach Edzell you will reach the entrance to Glen Esk, the most northerly and in my opinion the finest of the Angus Glens.

Places to Eat and Drink

Places to Eat and Drink

The Creel Inn Catterline – great for local seafood and real ale

The Old Pier Stonehaven – Specialises in croque messiurs, coffee and ice-cream and if you are lucky you can bag the balcony seats to get the best view of Stoney harbour

The Marine Hotel – the best selection of craft beer and whiskies and an excellent menu

The Ship Inn – great to sit outside and enjoy a pint

The Tolbooth restaurant – classic seafood

The Old Spice – Indian cuisine of the highest order

The Harbour Hut – ice creams, toasties and cafes in a friendly atmosphere

Nikkis café in the square – great coffee and home baking

Molly Gunnings Café- along the promenade and excellent for a lunch and bistro dinner

The Bay Fish & Chips – winner of multiple awards- probably the best fish and chips in Scotland

Auntie Betty’s ice cream and sweetie emporium- along the promenade and queues out the door testifies to its popularity

Guillinottis –just up from the market square -  traditional ice cream – made on the premises and the best ice cream in the country.