283. Newburgh to Cruden Bay

September 2015

This was a very enjoyable walk and my first walk of a 4 day trip to Scotland. After the success of my last trip I had again booked flights (with FlyBe, since ceased trading) from London City airport to Aberdeen. I had had to make an early start, getting up around 6am so that I could get to London City Airport in time to catch the flight to Aberdeen, which departed at 9:35.

I took the train to London Waterloo, the Jubilee Line to Canning Town, then the DLR to London City Airport. I had trouble at security, as I put my rucksack on top of my clear bag of liquids in the tray so that meant my bag had to get searched too. I always seem to get caught out by these silly rules!

Still once that was done I had about 40 minutes to get breakfast and a welcome cup of tea. Soon we were called to get on the flight which left on time. I had a window seat which was nice so I could enjoy the view, although much of it was cloudy. Last time I flew with this airline (FlyBe) and on this same route, a few months previously, the flight was in fact operated by Loganair under franchise. The drinks were free then but it seems the flight is now operated by Flybe directly, and they charge for tea, which I only found out after ordering one. Oh well, lesson learnt.

Still we head a pleasant if a little bumpy at times flight to Aberdeen, taking around 90 minutes.

Planning wise I had not done that well for this walk. For some reason (baffling, in hindsight) I had booked to stay in the same hotel (Premier Inn Portlethen, also known as Aberdeen South) just south of Aberdeen that I stayed at last time. I am not sure if I got my north and south mixed up when booking or something because it was a daft location to stay really, because all my planned walks were north of Aberdeen and I had booked to stay south of Aberdeen!

Nearer the date of departure, I checked the bus timetables and realised one consequence of this was that I had set myself up for a long journey each day on the bus, and not an especially cheap one, either. I realised an all day ticket for the buses would be £16 each day plus more if I wanted to take the train at any point or use a different companies buses. So it was rather timely that an email popped in my inbox a few days before from Hertz advertising an Autumn sale. I wondered how much it would cost to hire a car from Aberdeen Airport from them instead of take the bus. I was rather surprised. Including VAT, unlimited miles, and mandatory (3rd party) insurance it was only £9.24 a day for the cheapest car. I only had to fill it up with fuel before returning it (the tank was already full on collection). The insurance excess was £900 mind, but I didn’t need to claim on it, so that was OK. So it ended up being considerably cheaper than using the bus!

On arrival at the airport I headed to the car hire desk, expecting to find all manner of not so optional extras I’d have to pay for, but it was not so and within a few minutes I was given the keys to my hire car (a white Vauxhall Corsa). By this time though it was late morning and I still hadn’t reached the coast so I opted to do the shortest of the walks I had planned for this trip, from Newburgh to Cruden Bay, which was also the closest walk of those that I had planned. It took me about 40 minutes to drive to Newburgh. There didn’t seem to be a car park in the village centre, so I parked in a layby on the main road through the village. I stopped to buy lunch at the shop and then set off. 

I did not really know what to expect from this walk. The map of the North Sea Trail from the Council website showed that there was a coast path as far north as Slains Castle but nothing then until Whinnyfold, so I suspected it would be more walking on minor roads or trying to stick closer to the coast and climbing over barbed wire fences, as usually seems to be the case. 

I started by heading north on the A975 past the housing of the village then some newer housing on the right which then marked the end of the village. I had to get across the River Ythan and the nearest crossing is the road bridge on the A975.

The Ythan estuary, Newburgh

The Ythan estuary, Newburgh

Thankfully the pavement beside the road continues so at least it was relatively safe.

The Ythan estuary, Newburgh

At the end I reached the bridge, Waterside Bridge and crossed it. The tide was low, so it was mostly mud flats and it did not look overly appealing in the dull weather.

The Ythan estuary, Newburgh

The Ythan estuary, Newburgh

The Ythan estuary, Newburgh

Across the other side was another car park and this one was for the Forvie Nature Reserve, which I had now reached. There was a good path south initially, but it soon turned off to the east. This though would cut off the sandy spit at the mouth of the river, which I decided would be cheating. So instead I continued south along the path which after a while became a bit narrower.

The Ythan estuary, Newburgh

This didn’t really matter though because by the time it had, there was sand rather than mud beside the path so I headed down onto the beach. 

Forvie National Nature Reserve

Forvie National Nature Reserve

It was now a very pleasant walk along the sands. As I got nearer the south there were some area where the water obviously heads quite a long way into the dunes at high tide, so I would have to be careful as it was a bit muddy in places and I didn’t want to get cut off.

Forvie National Nature Reserve

As I neared the south edge of the river mouth as I was in for another pleasant surprise, on the sands by the waters edge were a number of seals. I didn’t get too close to them, but I did get close enough to get a few photos.

Forvie National Nature Reserve

Seals at Forvie National Nature Reserve

Probably better in fact than the man on the other side of the bank who was trying to zoom into them – he’d be better off walking around!

Seals at Forvie National Nature Reserve

As I continued round the corner there were even more seals. It was a lovely sight. I stayed far enough away not to disturb them and remembered now that I had seen seals on this side of the river earlier in the year, when I walked there. 

Forvie National Nature Reserve

Once around the corner I had a beautiful sandy beach to follow, backed by a large dune system and I could see just one other person on the mile or so of beach I could see. Wonderful.

Forvie National Nature Reserve

Forvie National Nature Reserve

It was easy walking until a place called Rockend, which for me at least, should have been called Rockstart!

Forvie National Nature Reserve

There was then a good coast path around the edge of the fairly low cliffs north.

Forvie National Nature Reserve

After around half a mile of fairly easy walking, I reached the next beach, this one Hackley Bay.

The coast south of Collieston

This was really beautiful – and totally deserted. A wonderful place. The path headed round the back of the beach and all too soon I was passed it. 

The coast south of Collieston

The coast south of Collieston

Not far beyond that there was another rocky beach, North Broad Haven. It was pretty, but not as good as Hackley Bay.

The coast south of Collieston

The path once again continued around the top of the low mostly grassy cliffs which I suspect were formed mostly from a large dune system. The path had gained a bit of height now as I passed the next beach at Perthudden. This too was mostly rocky.

The coast south of Collieston

Once around that I had reached the village of Collieston, with the roofs of the houses and the harbour ahead.

Collieston

I followed a track which joined to the road and followed it down to the harbour. 

Collieston

I liked Collieston, it had a lovely sandy beach, a small harbour and a small cluster of houses behind both. I headed down the path onto the beach and walked to the north end of the beach where there was the harbour wall.

Collieston

There was then a path close to the base of the low cliffs to another small rocky beach. There was a little car park here and a viewing platform where you could get a good view back to Colieston.

The coast at Collieston

I was however more pleased with what I saw ahead – a sign saying “Path to Whinnyfold”.

Path on from Collieston

This didn’t match what the Council’s official map said so I don’t know if the path had been extended or their website was simply wrong, but I suspect it is the former, as some of the posts and gates on the path looked quite new. Admittedly, the path did have the warning “Steep and Narrow Sections – take care”, but I didn’t mind that, at least it would mean no climbing fences today!

The path headed up steps from the cliff and rocks and I was disappointed to see looking back a local tradesmen had disposed of his unused paint and tins by simply chucking the pots onto the rocks, splattering paint everywhere. What a mess. 

The coast north of Collieston

Still the view once I was at the top was lovely. Looking back a group of pensioners were now occupying the viewing platform.

The coast north of Collieston

Ahead the coast was becoming more rocky with chunks of what I think are limestone heading out into the sea from the otherwise grassy cliffs.

The coast north of Collieston

I passed a small headland, now almost an island and ahead there were numerous rocks sticking above the water forming tiny islands. A lovely stretch of coast. 

The coast north of Collieston

The path I was following had started out well, but was getting narrower and I suspected was mostly now a track used by the sheep – there were lots of them on the cliffs. The way they seemed to stay still then run off in a panic only when you right behind them did make me worry about one was going to fall over the cliffs, but happily they didn’t.

The coast north of Collieston

There was another rocky beach at Hummel Craig with a rocky island in the middle, spectacular.  Rounding this I could see the ruins of Slains Castle ahead.

I have to say I was a bit a disappointed here. Having seen some other spectacular ruins on the Aberdeenshire coast, I was hoping for something similar, but there was only a part of one wall remaining and an ugly 1970s house built beyond it on the headland, which looked so out of place. 

Slains Castle Near Collieston

The path continued to undulate, past many more sheep until I reached the beach just south of the castle, which seems to be unamed. I continued north soon crossing the road leading to the castle and more modern house and ahead had a fine view, this is Broad Haven. 

Slains Castle Near Collieston

The coast path was getting rougher now, but I was pleased to spot this sign on a new looking post.

Aberdeenshire Coast path near Slains Castle

There seemed to have been some rather half-hearted attempt to create a coastal path, the North Sea Trail I think it was called back in about 2007 as a pan-European walk, but it rather feels like it got about half done and then stopped, leaving stretches of the coast with a path and others without and numerous odd dead-end paths. I had seen a few now faded signs for this, so it was a surprise to see this was marked with Aberdeenshire Coastal Path. Perhaps the project has been revived, and the council is going to make a full coast path along Aberdeenshire? We can only hope.  (Though a google search doesn’t bring anything up, only the driving route instead).

This was a lovely stretch and once behind the beach I had  view back to the castle and what turned out to be a small cluster of houses around it.

Slains Castle Near Collieston

Broad Haven near Slains Castle

Soon I had reached the far side of the bay and had a last look back to the castle – it looks better from this angle.

Broad Haven and Slains Castle

Onwards the coast was continuing to become more rocky and rugged, with numerous rocks and inlets along the coast.

The coast north of Collieston

I soon had a fairly steep valley to descend, but there was a bridge at the bottom. Back up I was on the cliff tops again. 

The coast north of Collieston

The coast path had now deteriorated to the point it was barely even visible and in truth all it really meant now was that when I came to a fence or stream there was a stile or bridge, but not much more, although it was all I needed and made a pleasant change from scaling fences. 

The coast north of Collieston

The coast north of Collieston

I soon reached Radel Haven, where there was even a small waterfall going down the cliff face. There was a rocky beach and another valley to cross at Fawn Pot which was a lovely remote beach.

Ahead things got even more spectacular, as I reached Bruce’s Haven where there was a rock stack. 

The rough coast path continued along the cliff top to the next rocky beach, Green Craig. Perhaps the green-covered rock in the centre of the bay is Green Craig (I was trying to guess why the beach might be called that).

The coast north of Collieston

The coast north of Collieston0095

The “path” was hard going now as it was through rough grass and not really a path at all, but it least it went outside of the fields.

The coast north of Collieston

Rounding the corner I now reached the rocky bay of The Veshels where I spotted some shags on the top of a flatter part of the cliff at the shore.

The coast north of Collieston

I continued around the coast, passing a gully and then the bay of Harrol with another rocky islet just off the beach.

The coast north of Collieston

The coast north of Collieston

The coast south of Whinnyford

A short distance ahead I was now approaching the small village of Whinnyfold, a fishing village.

The coast south of Whinnyford

The village doesn’t have a harbour so instead the beaches are launched from the single beach below and there was a few there, now catching the late afternoon sunshine, that had broken through the cloud.

The coast at Whinnyford

The beach is accessed via a steep zig-zag path down the cliff face.

As I reached the village the coast path joined the minor road through this small village, passing the pebble-dashed cottages. At the end of the road, I was pleased to find the sign “Path to Cruden Bay” so I would have a coast path again for the rest of the way.

The coast at Whinnyford

The path rounded the corner into the beach of Broad Haven a rock and sandy beach with another rock stack in it, this one with an arch cut through it by the sea, it was quite spectacular.

The coast at Whinnyford

Whinnyford

The coast at Whinnyford

From the cliff top at the far side, I could now see my destination of Cruden Bay ahead. However first I had to round the next beach, Sandy Haven. Despite the name it was rocks and pebbles not sand, which were a sort of pinky-grey colour.

The coast at Whinnyford

Sandy Haven near Whinnyford

Sandy Haven near WhinnyfordP9180129

Rounding this bay I now had the spectacular sandy beach of Cruden Bay ahead, which stretches for over a mile to the village of the same name, at the north end of the bay.

Sandy Haven near Whinnyford

Initially, the beach was stone and rocks but soon I could get across this onto the sand and just had to follow the sandy beach the rest of the way.

Bay of Cruden

A long walk along a sandy beach is a lovely way to finish a coast walk. The tide was quite high so in places there was not as much hard sand as I’d like (and what there was had dried out a bit during the day so was now quite soft) but it was still much easier going than the thick grass of earlier in the walk.

Bay of Cruden

It was beautiful in the early evening sunshine.

Bay of Cruden

Bay of Cruden

Part way along the beach a stream marked on the map had entirely dried up, or at least the water had gone under the sand.

Bay of Cruden

Soon I was nearing the village of Cruden Bay and there is a small river, Water of Cruden that flows out over the beach.

Bay of Cruden

Bay of Cruden

Bay of Cruden

Bay of Cruden

This one had not dried up but that didn’t matter because this one had a handy bridge, called Ladies Bridge. I assume, despite the name, men are allowed to use it because I crossed it too!

Ladies Bridge, Cruden Bay

Downstream I could see the remains of some old World War II tank-traps in the water.

Water of Cruden, Cruden Bay

Water of Cruden, Cruden Bay

Unfortunately for me I had about a 45 minute wait for the next bus back to Newburgh once I reached Cruden Bay. Rather than waste the time sitting at the bus stop I decided to explore the little headland at the north end of the bay, where there is the village of Port Errol, the harbour of Newburgh. I headed up on the path to the end of the headland where I could see the impressive ruins of Slains Castle ahead, which I’d pass next time.

Slains Castle from Cruden Bay

(In case you are thinking I’ve gone mad because I’d already passed Slains Castle, you’d be right, in fact there are two, both ruined, and the one I passed earlier is sometimes called Old Slains Castle whilst this one is New Slains Castle).

It was rather an impressive ruin and reminded me a bit of Dunstanburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast.

Slains Castle from Cruden Bay

Between me and that though was another rocky inlet so I headed back passing the rather un-inspring harbour, a concrete square backed by a few sheds – not very pretty.

Port Erroll Harbour, Cruden Bay

Now it was time to head back to Cruden Bay for the bus back to Newburgh. This came on time and it did not take me long to get back to Newburgh.

Here I picked up my hire car and drove back to Portlethen. I set off on the A975 in the direction of Aberdeen. It was dusk now and of course, being a man, when picking up the hire car earlier I had only bothered to work out where the indicators were and not read the insturctions. However as I left Newburgh it started to rain and whilst driving along I couldn’t see how to turn on the windscreen wipers. I just seemed to be able to get them to wipe once, but not stay on. It also meant it was now getting dark and I should put the headlights on, but I couldn’t find the switch to do that, either. I pulled over to a handy lay-by where I found a photocopied sheet in the glove box showing where the controls were. The wind screen wipers you just had to push away from you (I think) instead of up. The control for the lights however was a dial mounted on the dash board near my right knee! I have never driven a car where the lights are not on a stalk around the steering wheel so that was a surprise (but I gather this is usually the case with Vauxhall cars). Once I’d got the windscreen wipers working as I wanted and the lights on I had an uneventful journey the rest of the way back to Aberdeen, as I was late enough in the day I had missed the “rush hour”.

Checking into the hotel I was once again placed in “the annex” and they were now building another annex since my previous visit. I had dinner at the hotel.

This was a lovely walk, passing spectacular scenery of rocky bays and beaches, littered with rock stacks. I also passed the pleasant little village of Whinnyford and the last mile or so along the sandy beach of Cruden Bay in the late evening sunshine was a lovely end to the walk. It was good to that there was a “sort of” path the whole way so I wasn’t having to keep climbing over fences.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-

Stagecoach route 63: Peterhead – Longhaven – Cruden Bay – Newburgh – Balmedie – Aberdeen. Hourly seven days a week (this is under normal conditions – at the moment because of Covid/Coronoa Virus it is much less frequent). It takes around 20 minutes to travel between Cruden Bay and Newburgh.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk: Main Link

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282. Newburgh to Aberdeen

May 2015

This was my last day of a 4 day trip to Aberdeenshire, so I had to travel home in the afternoon. This time I have gone far enough north into Scotland that it was both quicker and cheaper to fly rather than take the train home, as I usually have, so I had booked a flight home from Aberdeen Airport.

My flight was originally booked for 16:30, but the airline (FlyBe, now ceased trading) subsequently informed me they had changed it to 16:55 which in this case was a bonus, as it gave me an extra 25 minutes. This turned out to be important!

I decided to walk from Newburgh back to Aberdeen on the basis that as I neared the centre of Aberdeen I would be able to take a bus into the city centre (and on to the airport) if the walk took longer than expected – a luxury I would not have if walking in the other direction.

I was staying in the Premier Inn in Portlethen. Having checked out I first needed to get to Aberdeen. On previous mornings I had taken a bus, but today was a bank holiday and the bus service was much reduced. However the normal weekday train service was operating even though it was a bank holiday, so I elected to go by train instead, as it is quicker. It was about a 15 minute walk to the station and I arrived a few minutes before the train, only to find that the train was running 9 minutes late! I checked the time I had to make a connection between train and bus in Aberdeen and decided that I still had enough time so waited for the train.

Another advantage of taking the train it that it runs right along the coast, giving me a good view of the coast I had walked the previous days. It was a lovely morning, and the wet and windy weather of the previous day had cleared, but the sea still looked very rough. It also looked like the tide was high, as I could see it was right up against the rocks in many of the little inlets. Soon we arrived at Aberdeen and had managed to make up a bit of time, so we were only a little over 5 minutes late now.

I made my way from the rail station to the bus station via the Union Square shopping centre, but could not see the bus, which I had thought went to Peterhead. No buses to Peterhead were listed. There was one to Newburgh listed, in about 55 minutes. I wondered if the timetable I had read on my phone was wrong, but it turned out the bus went to somewhere called Ellon, via Newburgh. (I’m afraid I’d never even heard of Ellon).

I found the right stand and was pleased to see the bus was once again being operated by a coach rather than a bus. I am impressed with the bus service in this part of Scotland. The service is more frequent than I had expected, seems to run on time, is not that expensive and all the buses offer free WiFi. Most of the longer distance routes, such as this one, are also operated by much more comfortable coaches with air conditioning, a step up from the old and expensive buses that run in my local town.

The bus left on time and we go to Newburgh on time and it was a pleasant and comfortable journey.  The bus dropped me in School Road and I headed from here a short distance back to the main road. My first impression of Newburgh was a good one, it seemed a pleasant village, with a shop and pub on the main street.

I turned left on the main street, passing the Costcutter and a sign for the Coull Walkway on the right. I headed a bit past this and decided it might be a good idea to check the map to see when I needed to turn off. Then I realised I’d gone past it, and that Coull Walkway sign was the way I needed to go. I can’t find a lot about this, other than it was a walking trail created by the Newburgh Youth Club, as a fund raising exercise around 20 years ago.

This is one of three bridges over the Foveran Burn that I needed to cross. This took me behind the houses and immediately beyond, to the bridge. This was a pretty little river running over an area of flat ground (flood plain, I expect) and splitting into two little channels to my left, making a little island. Ducks quacked along the waters and suddenly, away from the road now, it was very peaceful.

Foveran Burn, Newburgh

The path soon passed between bright yellow gorse bushes and then emerged onto – a golf course.

Newburgh

There are certainly a lot of golf courses in Scotland! Thankfully golfers were only playing on one of the holes, the first I came to, so I didn’t have to wait long to get over the first hole. Not really knowing entirely where I was going, I got occasional glimpses of the sea, and headed in roughly that direction.

This took me on tracks between the gorse bushes and more by luck I ended up by some huts near the estuary, which turned out to be a local angling club. Just before the river was reached there was a sign warning dogs to be kept under control as there may be seals ahead. Seals are like puffins as far as I am concerned. Lots of people say you see them, but I never seem to manage it.

Seals ahead!

Passing over the last of the dunes I was beside the river Ythan. This river separates the beach at Newburgh from Forvie, on the other side of the estuary and gosh, it was beautiful. It reminded me of the River Avon in Devon near Bigbury, with the river having sand and dunes on either side and a fairly thin channel of water.

The beach at Newburgh

There was part of a ship wreck exposed a bit ahead and I headed to this, but the sand became muddy in places, so after this I stuck to the edge of the river, close to the dunes.

The beach at Newburgh

River Ythan at Newburgh

As I neared the coast I could here some odd noises. I assumed they were birds, but just rounding the corner, I found the other bank of the river had many seals on it. And when I say many, I mean it! So much for my thought that I wouldn’t see any, then!

River Ythan and Seals at Newburgh

It was lovely to watch them, some of them bouncing around over the sands. As I got further out to the mouth of the river, there was a second group of them, with even more seals. There must have been several hundred.

River Ythan and Seals at Newburgh

River Ythan and Seals at Newburgh

River Ythan and Seals at Newburgh

River Ythan and Seals at Newburgh

I was now at the mouth of the river and could look north over the glorious dunes and sands at Forvie.

The coast at Newburgh

The coast at Newburgh

The coast at Newburgh

On this side of the river, I too soon rounded the corner to be faced with a glorious beach. Beautiful large dunes at the back, a wonderful soft sandy beach, with harder sand at the shoreline and the crashing waves beyond.

The coast at Newburgh

The coast at Newburgh

The waves were quite large (and hence the sea quite noisy), which I loved and reminded me of the North Cornwall coast.

The coast at Newburgh

The coast near Newburgh

Out to sea, I was surprised how many boats were out at sea and oddly, none of them seemed to be moving. Some had helicopters coming and going from them too. Presumably oil related. In places, where the tide had gone out, it had formed some interesting indentations in the sand.

The coast near Newburgh

The coast near Newburgh

The coast near Newburgh

The walk today would be easy. For almost all the way I would stick to this glorious beach, with just a brief diversion inland to get over the River Don and the last mile or so through the docks to the city centre.

The coast near Balmedie

The beach stretched south for roughly 12 miles. 12 miles! I think that is a record to be on a single beach, albeit it one separated by the river Don further south. I could see only one other person. Not bad for a sunny may day bank holiday. (This is another reason why given the weather was so bad the previous day I waited, because I really wanted to do this walk in good weather).

The coast near Balmedie

The coast near Balmedie

I walked on the hard sand nearer the back of the beach for a while, as water channels made it difficult to get to the sea itself without wet feet. The sound was lovely and at times I climbed up the dunes for a view along the beach.

The coast near Balmedie

The coast near Balmedie

The coast near Balmedie

I could just make out Aberdeen in the distance, but it was barely visible. I could see just one other person, a dog walker.

After a while I passed a post with a snapped rope tied to it. I wondered what had been tied to it, obviously something too heavy for the rope. Soon the water channels between me and the sea ended, so I could walk closer to the sea, close enough to feel the spray from some of the large waves, which were whipping up a bit of foam, too.

The coast near Balmedie

At the edge of the beach, there were Oyster catchers and some other little brown birds, which a quick bit of googling suggests were probably Sandpipers.

There were at times a few little streams (or burns, to use the local term) which crossed the sand. I tried to walk through this without taking my shoes off and without getting wet feet, with mixed success (I.E., I did get wet feet, but I didn’t really care). After a few miles I could see some other people ahead on the beach and a check of the map revealed I was nearing Balmedie a short distance in land, where some car parks were shown on the map, probably explaining the sudden presence of other people!

A little bit south of the village there was another large river flowing out over the sands. This one was a little deeper and I got wet feet trying to cross this one, mainly because I didn’t bother to take my shoes off, but really needed to. Another reason I had chosen to do this walk on the Monday of my trip, was that a firing range (Danger Area) was marked on the map further south. I thought you would be able to walk on the beach when it wasn’t in use, and a weekend (this was a bank holiday) would be most likely to find it out of use. In the end I saw very little evidence of it. The only real clue was occasional signs on the tops of the dunes, which I wasn’t close enough to read, but looked like the usual “Firing range keep out” type notices. There didn’t seem to be any evidence of red flags or lights being put up on the beach, so it maybe that you can use the beach at all times.

The coast near Balmedie

South of the firing range I came to another little stream at a place called Blackdog. This one unusually had a footbridge just at the back of the beach, so I decided to head to that, rather than wade through the river. I crossed the bridge, thinking it was nice to have one for a change, and headed back to the coast.

There was another stream ahead to cross and we were back to streams without bridges once more. Along the beach around here in particular (although in other parts to), were the remains of World War II. Old concrete pill boxes obviously built on the top of the dunes now on the beach or in the sea, and the blocks of the tank traps still along the beach, in various states of repair.

The coast near Balmedie

The coast near Balmedie

At one of these little streams I was surprised to see an area of grass on top of the dunes, but as I got closer I realised it was part of yet another golf course.

I passed a few more streams, most with a pill box on the beach nearby.

The coast near Balmedie

The coast north of Aberdeen

The coast north of Aberdeen

The coast north of Aberdeen

The coast north of Aberdeen

The coast north of Aberdeen

The coast north of Aberdeen

After a while I came to another stream, this one being channelled into a pipe. It looked like you could step over some concrete circles in front of the pipe, which looked easier than the soft sand behind the pipe.

Here is a picture of it. It turned out to be the last picture the camera I used to take it would ever take…..

The coast north of Aberdeen

I went to do this, but as I went to step on what I thought was solid sand ahead, disaster struck. The water had undercut the sand and was deep underneath. Usually the sand is firm until an inch or so before the water but not here and it collapsed as I went to stand on it. I slipped and ended up falling over into the stream, just as a large wave then came in from the sea, which went over my head.

I was soaked from head to toe and had to scramble to get back up on the soft sand and water. I had also made the mistake of wearing jeans, because I like to take two pairs of trousers with me on a trip and had put my lighter walking trousers in my rucksack for the flight back , mindful of the weight limit and the need to keep my luggage weight down, I decided to wear my jeans as these were heavier. Now they were soaked and covered in sand, as was my T-shirt. But worse, I had my camera around my neck. Once safely away from the sea I stopped in the dunes to inspect the damage. The water had gone all over my head and I’d been lying in the sea briefly, with my rucksack on my shoulders.

It was only then I realised how bad things might be. I had my camera around my neck. I tried to dry it out as best I could and wipe the sand off it. I took the battery out, but it seemed dry in the battery compartment which is a relief. Perhaps the water had not got inside it, so I tried put the battery in and tried to turn it on (and yes I know now this is the absolute WORST thing you can do in this situation – salt water conducts electricity and will cause all manner of short circuits which can damage components). Nothing happened. I took this battery out and put the spare one in. This time, the memory card access light blinked briefly, but after that, no response. I took the battery out again. This was not the first time the camera had got wet. The last time it happened it initially seemed to work fine, but then developed a problem that every time it was switched on, it would behave as if the shutter button was pressed down continually and constantly take shots until you turned it off again. This happened for a few days, after which it seemed to return to normal and had been so since. This was a couple of years previously. I hoped the same would happen again and that in a day or two it would start working again. Sadly, it was not too be and this time I had ruined it. (Though to be fair, the shutter had started to stick early on this trip so I think it was on it’s last legs, anyway)

I hoped that the pictures would be saved which, thankfully, they were (as you can see).

However I then suddenly realised that in my pocket was my mobile phone, it too wet but seemed to still be working (though I switched it off). I also wondered how much had been damaged in my rucksack. It was only then I realised in my ruck sack as well as clothes I was also carrying a tablet computer, ipod (remember those?), kindle, spare camera (yes I am obsessive) and GPS. I was worried these too would all have been destroyed. Thankfully it was only my camera, inside my bag was still dry. So in some ways I was lucky in that only my camera was ruined, it could have been a lot worse. It’s only when something like this happens I realise quite how many gadgets I end up carrying about, especially when returning from a few days away!

I had that camera (a Canon EOS 400D) for very many years and had taken tens of thousands of photos with it. It had served me very well and I was sad it was now broken. In fact when I got home I hadn’t the heart to get rid of it. 5 years later, and I still have it now! In fact here it is.

My old camera

As you can see the labels for all but one of the buttons had long since worn away, as had all the rubber on the hand grip, I’d long ago lost the eye cup around the view finder and a plastic panel that was stuck on the back had also come off. It had had a lot of use and travelled many miles! In the end I decided to use the opportunity upgrade to a Canon EOS 6D (which I’m still using now) because I found this website which had it much cheaper (and I mean by several hundred pounds) than anywhere else (including Amazon) which turned out to be because they are actually in the US (where cameras are much cheaper) and send it from there to the UK, so it was a “grey import” (though despite this, I had no problems). My original lens was incompatible with this camera.

In the end I ended up also buying another Canon EOS400D from Ebay for only £55 (a bargain I thought because although listed as used it was in perfect condition and seemed to have hardly been used), it is useful when I want a smaller lighter camera to take with me somewhere and I’m less worried about getting a £55 camera damaged! It also allowed me to find my original lens was not damaged by the sea water and still works fine now.

I couldn’t walk on in soaking wet jeans, neither could I travel home on a flight in them . So I stopped in the dunes to change into the still dry walking trousers in my bag and a dry (but previously worn) t-shirt. At least then only my feet were still wet, and I couldn’t do much about that (and they were already damp anyway). The problem was, my jeans were now soaking and wet jeans are very heavy, so I put them in a waterproof bag (to avoid getting the rest of the contents of my rucksack wet). I hoped I wouldn’t be searched on checkin at the airport, as I don’t imagine I would be too popular if the security people had to go through a bag with soaking wet sand-covered jeans.

I also realised I now had sand all over me and in my hair, and tried to get the worst of that out, too. Whilst doing that, my map I had put down blew away along the beach. I had to run after that too, only for it too to end up blowing into the sea and getting soaking wet too. Things were not going well. I grabbed my now wet map, folded it up and put it in my bag hoping it would not also be ruined. Finally, I continued the walk, hoping not to get wet again. At least it was a simple walk so I didn’t really need the map now.

I walked on along the beach, rather embarrassed and annoyed with myself for not just taking the safer option of walking behind the pipe, or up into the dunes.

As I neared the river Don, I decided to stop and set up the spare camera (I always take two, which is a bit obsessive), this one an Olympus PEN, which I find has rather dubious colour balance (greens are too bright), hence it was not my main camera, but at least it was dry and still worked!

The River Don, Aberdeen

I’d packed the camera and lens desperately in my rucksack, so found the two parts and connected them up, so I could continue with photographs of the rest of the walk. I was conscious the falling over incident and subsequent sorting out and trying to dry things out had cost me quite a bit of time. Whilst it had been looking like I would comfortably have enough time, I now realised things were getting tight and I would have to pick up the pace. I also didn’t want to try unfolding the wet map to check so I relied on memory to keep going until I get to the jetty at the end, then follow as close as I can beside the river into the city centre. I did want to take the most coastal route, so I would not be left with an annoying gap to fill the next time I came to Scotland.

Once sorted, I followed the path and then the road along the east side of the bridge. Then onto the bridge itself, which carries the A956.

Bridge of Don, Aberdeen

In my first job I worked for a company that had software that attempted to correct postal address supplied by customers to the official Royal Mail approved format, correcting missing information (such as postcodes) and removing incorrect extra detail people love to put in addresses (North Kensington instead of Shepherd’s Bush for example, was one one I remember). This allowed companies to save money on postage when sending out junk mail (or “Direct Marketing” as the company told me to call it). The software was very old, parts of it written in COBOL and the data had to be put in and out in a very specific and obscure format (using fixed-length fields and packed decimals for those that know about such things). This meant I had to check the first few records manually to make sure this conversion had been done correctly, or we’d waste hours of processing incorrect data. The software always output addresses in alphabetical (order on postcode) and the first post code in alphabetical order in Britain is the one for the Bridge of Don area of Aberdeen. I had seen addresses in this area so many times over the years and now at least I had seen the place itself!

The River Don, Aberdeen

Once over the bridge I turned left on the more minor road, which was now quite busy. I soon opted for the grass verge next to the road, rather than the pavement as it was easier on the feet and further from the traffic. This soon bought me back to the sea and by the river the tide was now high enough that there was little beach, with the sea lapping at the shingle and dunes at the back of the beach (and was about to take the path with it, too).

The River Don reaches the sea near Abderdeen

The coast north of Aberdeen

Soon a promenade started and I could join that for the next couple of miles.

Aberdeen

The promenade was busy and it was something of a shock compared to the beautiful deserted beaches I had earlier. The beach was now split with groynes and a sea wall at the back, on top of which the promenade ran. The sea was splashing up the concrete ramps at the back of the beach in places, revealing just a small amount of sand at high tide.

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

I hadn’t realised Aberdeen had a proper resort beach, as this clearly was, as it was soon backed by arcades and fairground rides.

Aberdeen

I continued south past the fun fair after which the promenade became quieter and the beach more or less non existent, as the waves now reached the back.

Aberdeen

Ahead I could see the control tower like structure at the mouth of the harbour and see the waves breaking over the harbour wall near the entrance to the harbour. The promenade soon ended at a rather lovely row of houses ahead.

Aberdeen

I ended up climbing over a flood gate and there was a path both in front and behind the houses. I opted for the path behind, alongside the coast. At the end I could approach the harbour control tower (Marine Operations centre, to give it it’s correct name).

Aberdeen

Here there looked to be a path along the river, so I turned right and followed it. It soon turned right with the river and headed into industry. After such a glorious walk, it was a shame the last mile was fairly unpleasant, as the rest of the walk was lovely.

I followed the road closest to the harbour, York Street. I was a little nervous I might find it blocked to pedestrians or no pavement but thankfully this was not the case. I got my phone out both to check the time and follow my route on Google maps. I was walking about as fast as I could and watching the blue blob on my phone showing where I am move slowly. At the end of York Road I turned left and then right along Waterloo Quay. I soon worked out I was about half way to the bus station, and about half way through the time I had left in order to catch the bus I needed to get. As I got to the end and turned left into Regent Street, time was now very tight. I broke out into a run and headed along Market Street. I managed to dart between the traffic between changes of the traffic lights and ran into the bus station. I then had to find the right bus stand, but saw the first bus in the first bus stand was the 727 to the airport. I made the 3pm bus with quite literally 10 seconds to spare, as there were 2 people in front of me getting on, and I was the last one on. I was concerned that the next bus at 3:20pm would not get to the airport until around 3:50pm. I thought I had to check in no later than 1 hour before departure (4:55pm), but it turns out it was actually 45 minutes, but missing the 3pm bus would have made things very tight, so it was a relief to make it.

I could relax on the bus and tried to get my camera working again, but it was still dead. I also sorted out the liquids that had to go in the bag for the flight and the empty drinks bottles I’d need to throw out.

Soon I arrived at the airport and checked in. I was concerned going through security that I would get stopped because of the sodden sand covered jeans being flagged as a fluid. I was also concerned that the water on them (wet jeans are heavy!) would take my bag over the weight limit. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about, my bag wasn’t opened and the airline did not weight it.

The flight boarded on time and I was pleased that again I had a window sea. It seated around 50 people and was more spacious and comfortable than I expected. As we left Aberdeen I soon got views of some snow-covered mountain tops, but as we neared the English border, it became cloudy, so the rest of the flight there was not much to see until we neared London.

Once we descended through the clouds, I could see that we came in over the north edge of Southend, on past Canvey Island, Stanford-le-Hope and along close to the Thames to City Airport.

Unexpectedly, we carried on past the airport, so the plane could turn. As it did so I got a wonderful view as we flew right over Tower Bridge and city hall, passing the top of the Shard (my photos of a visit to the top), which looked very close down below us (and, funnily enough right over the office where I used to work at the company that processed name and address data I mentioned earlier).

Then heading east again, we went over the towers at Canary Wharf, the Dome (O2) and cable car, and soon touched down at City airport. The airport is unusual in that on landing the plane has to turn right around 180 degrees at the end of the runway and head back down the runway to reach the stand, as it’s in a very constrained location (only small planes capable of a making a steep landing can use the airport). We arrived around 10 minutes early, to a grey overcast day. I suspect the weather had been much better in Scotland all day. All in all, it was an easy and pleasant journey. There was no customs or immigration to go through, so once free of the airport I took the DLR to Canning Town, the Jubilee Line to Waterloo and then a train from there. Engineering works (grr) meant the train from Waterloo was slower than usual, as it took a different route (and also running less frequent) but I made it home in a reasonable time. It had been a wonderful day (well, apart from ruining my camera) and a great trip, too.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-

Stagecoach route 63: Peterhead – Longhaven – Cruden Bay – Newburgh – Balmedie – Aberdeen. Hourly seven days a week (this is under normal conditions – at the moment because of Covid/Coronoa Virus it is much less frequent). It takes around 40 minutes to travel between Newburgh and Aberdeen.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk: Main Link.

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Progress to date

At the time of writing I should be out walking the coastline of Argyll and Bute on my first coast walking trip of 2020.  However I’m not, I’m stuck at home because the government has decreed were not allowed to travel anywhere, go walking away from home or leave the house unless absolutely necessary (and even more depressingly, there seems to be no end in sight, so it’s impossible to even plan anything for the future, either).

However here is my rather crude map of progress to date (as it was in late 2019) with the bits highlighted in red being the parts I have walked.

Coast Walk

In 2019 I covered the coast of the Scottish Highlands from Lochinver in the north to Lower Diabaig in the south. I also made a start on the Ayrshire coast as I could just about do trips up to there for the weekend. I covered the section between Gourock and Maidens. Lastly I crossed the Irish Sea and walked the Causeway Coast Way, a 33 mile walk covering some of the best coastal scenery in Northern Ireland, including the famous Giant’s Causeway. (That does leave the question as to whether I’ll do the rest of Northern Ireland, a question I haven’t yet answered).

I think it’s now obvious I will be making far less progress in 2020 (and possibly none at all). My first trip, supposed to start yesterday is already cancelled. The hotel I booked and pre-paid for (Premier Inn Greenock) did contact me and tell me I could now cancel and obtain a full refund, despite booking a non-refundable “saver” rate. Well done Premier Inn (though in the end they later contacted me to tell me the hotel was now closed anyway, so they would have had to refund me in the end). Sadly the same could not be said for British Airways who insisted that the flights I was booked on are still running (even though I’m not permitted to take them – they must be running almost or entirely empty?) and so I could only have a voucher (which I’m still waiting for) to the value of the flights instead, to use against a future booking – so I am already out of pocket.

My second trip (booked and paid for already) was due to be late April. That too is now cancelled because the hotel is closed to all but key workers until at least the end of April (this time I was not due to pay until arrival anyway, so could cancel without cost) and this time the flights have also already been cancelled (though that does at least mean I can get an actual refund, rather than just a voucher).

My next trip is booked for May and also looking very doubtful. 2020 looks to be a write-off and I feel like this year has been stolen from me – forced instead to spend most of it under what is virtually house-arrest (something I never thought would or could happen in Britain if you haven’t committed a crime and been charged with it).

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Special: The Most Northerly Coast (part 3 of 5) – A visit to Ny-Ålesund

June 2018

Given the current situation in the UK (and much of the world) that means my coast walk is currently on hold for the foreseeable future. So I thought this week I’d write up another special post, day 3 of my trip to Svalbard in June 2018 where I’d visit the most northerly public town in the world, Ny-Ålesund. It is nice to revisit this at a time where we are not allowed to go on holiday (and barely even leave home).

This was the 3rd full day of my trip to Svalbard and the one I was most looking forward to (see day 1 and day 2). If all went well by the end of the day I would have visited the most northerly town in the world, Ny-Ålesund, which is 769 miles from the North Pole.

(The list of northern most settlements can be found on Wikipedia and Ny-Ålesund is the first place on the list that is still active, inhabited all year round and a public town as opposed to a military base or research station).

For the public, reaching Ny-Ålesund is not easy. There are no roads connecting the town with the rest of the Svalbard archipelago. It is around 70 miles from the “capital” of Svalbard, Longyearbyen. That means in summer it is possible to travel by boat (which is what I did), but in winter the sea is frozen so you must travel over land. However the majority of the population that live there are employed by Kings Bay a Norwegian Arctic research organisation. They have an airport that serves Ny-Ålesund (with around 4 flights per week in summer) but the flights are private and not available to the public. So it was going to be around a 3-hour boat journey from Longyearbyen to Ny-Ålesund and the same coming back. All in all the day trip was 11.5 hours.

I had breakfast at the hotel I was staying (Radisson Blu Polar Hotel), which had a good range of food especially for somewhere so remote. Due to the difficulties and amount of equipment required to travel independently the vast majority of visitors book on tours to visit places in Svalbard. That means after breakfast most guests gather in reception to wait for their respective tours to arrive. I opted to sit outside in case I missed the guide for my tour, which was due to start at 7:45am.

A few minutes later I was joined by the same Polish ladies that were on the same tour I went on the previous day. They were staying in a nearby AirBnB (I didn’t even know AirBnB operated so far north) and so had opted to be picked up from my hotel, as the nearest location. To my surprise they also had suitcases but explained that at the end of the day trip they were going straight to the airport in order to fly to Oslo, where they planned to sleep in the airport overnight for their flight back to Warsaw the following morning.

Whilst waiting I didn’t know what to be looking out for but in due course a black taxi mini-van arrived and we were met by our guide Johanna Eclancher who quickly introduced herself and explained the plan for the day. We were the last passengers to be picked up and there were 5 on the trip today (they only take a maximum of 8 people). It was only a little under a 10 minute drive to the harbour near the airport where the boat was moored.

Given the number of people on the trip it wasn’t a surprise that the boat was small.

Boat to Ny-Ålesund

That was one thing that had been bothering me. I’ve never actually been sea sick but I do remember feeling quite sick on a trip from Poole to Guernsey on the Condor Vitesse on a rough day, a trip of a similar length but on a much larger vessel. So I was a bit apprehensive as to how I would cope with the journey as I know smaller boats tend to be far bumpier.

My other worry (since I’m shy) was how I’d get on with the other people on the tour given we’d be spending a day together on a small boat. On a large cruise ship (not that I’ve ever been on one) I imagine you have plenty of places to avoid people you don’t get on with. On a small boat like this there is nowhere to hide! Thankfully I needn’t have worried about this aspect. The other people on the tour were lovely and any fears that I might not get on were quickly unfounded. As I came to realise, most people that come to a place like this do so for similar reasons, to experience the stunning scenery of this remote part of the earth. So we quickly found we all got on very well and had a lot in common.

The boat itself was remarkably well-equipped. We were mostly sat around a table (where Johanna had provided tea, coffee and biscuits) but there was a toilet and at least one bedroom below decks, plus cooking facilities as the boat was also used for multi-day expeditions.

As to sea-sickness, Johanna explained that the biscuits were quite dry (rich tea-like) and encouraged us to eat them explaining that sea-sickness is generally caused by movement of fluid in your stomach so eating something dry helps to absorb some of the fluid so you are less likely to feel sea sick. In any case I don’t need any encouraging to eat biscuits.

I’m afraid I can’t remember the name of the captain of the boat other than he was normally to be found driving one of the larger sight-seeing catamarans (operated by a different company) but was I think driving our boat today (possibly on what would have been his day off) and relished the chance to go further (and faster!) than he was usually able to.

We soon set off from the harbour out into Isfjorden, the Fjord on which Longyearbyen sits. As I feared the boat picked up speed rapidly and we were soon bouncing across the waves, so much so you had to hold onto the table! I was beginning to suspect I might be spending much of the journey in the toilet! The coffee flask also soon had to be secured so we didn’t all get covered in hot coffee!

Isfjorden

Johanna introduced herself more. She is French and grew up in Paris. I believe she said she moved here as a tour guide some time after finishing university and loves it in Svalbard and has a dream to move to Ny-Ålesund. Her passion for the place (it’s history, scenery, remoteness and wildlife) certainly came across and she soon got a large map out so we could see exactly where we would be going today.

The safety rules were simple, we could go out at the back of the boat at any time, but if we were outside, we must have a life jacket on and hold tight especially if the boat was going at speed, but we would slow down at places of interest to make it easier to take photos and so on. To start with my main focus was simply holding on so as not to end up on the floor as the boat bounced about.

To my surprise though those biscuits worked too. I only had the occasional slightly sick feeling for the first 20 minutes or so but this soon subsided and I felt fine the rest of the way.

It was tempting to stay out the back, but the movement of the boat, wind and temperature meant it was uncomfortable for long – but here I am out the back.

Me on the boat to Ny-Ålesund

The views however are stunning as we passed along Isfjorden, with snow-capped mountains on either side of the Fjord, often covered with cloud too.

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

We saw a large number of sea birds as we went and Johanna showed us which ones they were on the guide and map too. I know puffins were amongst them.

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

On the way out, conversation soon started to flow as we all found we had many common interests (I was surprised to find everyone on the boat had been to Iceland in the last few years, for example).

Isfjorden

One of the other passengers, Ricard (a Spaniard) I think we all particularly warmed to. He had come here for a 2 week holiday and I think was about a week into it and in the time he had been there seemed to have managed to get talking to pretty much everyone that lived or even was staying in Longyearbyen in the Svalbar of an evening (I suspected he was to be found propping up the bar there most evenings!). He seemed the sort of person that could charm anyone!

I remember he said he worked for the Spanish Police in I think a fairly senior role. From what he told me, he was required to work a fixed number of hours each calendar month, rather than specific working hours. As such he tended to do his months work in about 2 weeks of long days, including weekends and then have the rest of the month off. Often he could combine his days off from two months to get a longer break. Most of these breaks he used to travel (extensively) and he had an impressive and stunning collection of photos (and videos) on his phone of all the places he had been to. It certainly looked a nice life-style though I imagine the police work could be rather stressful (I wondered if he was some kind of detective!).

After bouncing around in the boat for an hour or so are first point of interest was a Walrus colony. I didn’t know we would be stopping here and I’d never seen a Walrus in the wild, so this was a treat Johanna commented that Walrus were just likely men really, spending most of the day lazing about farting and belching!

Walrus colony, Svalbard

Walrus colony, Svalbard

Indeed their behaviour did seem to be mostly lying around but it was fascinating to see them up close, and so many of them. A number of them had clear scars from fighting, I’m not sure if with each other, or polar bears or both (I suspect each other). A few were swimming too but most were laying on the sands which oddly had a lot of logs on it. I presume these are washed up, but from where I don’t know since there aren’t any trees in Svalbard.

The Walrus did not seem bothered by our presence, more just curious. Most gave us a quick glance and carried on with their lying around!

Sadly it was soon time to move on from the Walrus colony and continue our journey.  The walrus colony was at the mouth of Isfjorden and so we were now leaving the more protected waters of the Fjord and heading out into the open waters of the Arctic ocean. This made for a rather more bumpy ride!

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Fortunately we soon entered the Fordlandsunde, a more sheltered bit of water between the main island of Svalbard, Spitsbergen and the island of Prins Karls Foreland.

On the way we passed by many many snow-covered mountains and hills and also got distance views of several glaciers.

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

As we headed further north there was noticeably more snow on the hills than further south near Longyearbyen.

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

In places the peaks of the mountains were now sticking out above the clouds, whilst the lower parts of the mountains were still covered with snow.

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

We slowed down for a look at a few glaciers and I was so keen to get closer, but we were promised a closer look on the way back.

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

This is such a sparsely populated area that you see very few people and very few other boats. It is not the sort of place you want to have any mechanical problems but we did pass this rather nice looking sailing boat, though it didn’t have the sails up at the time.

Heading for Ny-Ålesund

Soon we passed another much larger ship, this time a small cruise ships, as some cruises do operate up to Ny-Ålesund.

Cruise ship, Svalbard

On the way more puffins were to be seen and soon with great excitement we were nearing the shelter of the harbour at Ny-Ålesund. Most of the other boats were of the RIB type but it was a sizeable harbour that could clearly fit some large ships too.

Ny-Ålesund harbour

Next to the harbour is an a shingle beach with a wooden hut (boat house?) at the back whilst in the other direction buildings that were I suspect once mines.

Ny-Ålesund beach

Ny-Ålesund harbour

Ny-Ålesund harbour

Despite being such a remote place, the town is geared up for tourists and information panels were dotted about the place to give some information both about the town and the buildings there.

Ny-Ålesund

This is because various cruise ships dock here during the summer months. I had considered that option to get here but most of these are long trips of at least a week and I was not sure I wanted to spend so long on a boat!

Ny-Ålesund was originally, like the other settlements in Svalbard, a mining town.

Next to the harbour is another site you might not expect to find somewhere so remote – a train!

Ny-Ålesund old mine train

Train at Ny-Ålesund

(Actually this wasn’t such a surprise to me because it was pictured on the website when I booked the trip, so I knew it was there!) It doesn’t operate any more but was used when the mines were active to transport the coal to the harbour. Now it’s idle, but still left in place.

The buildings of Ny-Ålesund are quite similar in many ways to those you find on the main land of Norway, mostly made of wood and often painted in the mustard and maroon colours that seem to be most popular for wooden buildings in Norway (and indeed Scandinavia in general).

Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Ålesund

Having reached the harbour we were given a brief safety briefing. First to turn your mobile phone onto flight mode (as the signals can interfere with the research equipment). Secondly we must stick to the roads and not trample on the ground as the flower that grow in the Arctic tundra are very fragile and rare. The most important rule was not to leave the town at all due to the risk of polar bears (it is a legal requirement to have a gun and various other equipment before leaving any of the settlements). This last point was particular important as we were told that a polar bear had been in the town that very morning (it is quite rare they come into the towns), but had since disappeared.

Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Ålesund

The town is not large. More a village really and the residents are almost entirely scientists with the rest running the shops, boats, hotel and other transport links that are required to keep the town functioning.

Ny-Ålesund

Like the other settlements in Svalbard the houses are built raised off the ground partly because the ground is frozen just below the surface and partly because this is actually warmer than being on the icy ground.

Though mining and research have been the main industries here some of the buildings we passed were known as the London houses. They were built in 1911 and 1912 on the other side of the Fjord, in a separate settlement where a marble quarry was established. Unfortunately it was not successful since the marble was damaged by the constantly freezing and melting ice and so quickly crumbled once mined. The houses were then moved here after this venture failed and used as family houses by the miners.

The town also has a small museum. Though it looked closed we were told we could simply walk in and look around because it was never locked!

The town also boasts the most northerly post office in the world – and here it is.

Ny-Ålesund post office

I am told you can send post cards here and have them stamped Ny-Ålesund but it was closed when we were here (though you could do the same in the shop, nearby).

Ny-Ålesund

There is also a hotel in the town (Nordpol Hotellet), or North Pole hotel in English though I believe it is private and only for workers of the Kings Bay company to use. A shame as I would have liked to spend the night here if possible.

The North Pole Hotel, Ny-Ålesund

Near the back of the town where the main research buildings, with quite a lot of activity visible alongside the supporting facilities, such as the canteen. There were buildings for most of the countries that had a research base here (which includes the United Kingdom).

Ny-Ålesund

This one is the Chinese base.

Chinese research building, Polar Bear warning sign, Ny-Ålesund

What the town is most famous for though is Roald Amundsen and there is a large bust of him in the town square.

Bust of Roald Amundsen Ny-Ålesund

He was the first man to reach the South Pole (in 1911) and he reached the North Pole in 1926 on the airship Norge N1 that was launched from Ny-Ålesund.

And here I am standing next to him.

Me beside bust of Roald Amundsen, Ny-Ålesund

We had been walked to this point by our tour guide. After this we were left to wander about independently and told when to return to the boat.

The shop was also soon to open so we were able to look in there later, too. I am not sure how often the seats outside are used!

The shop, Ny-Ålesund

Thankfully too the weather had brightened up and there was some sunshine for a time.

So here are a few of my photos of the town.

Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Ålesund

 

Ny-Ålesund

It was a very interesting place to wander about, though I was careful not to go beyond the town limits where signs warned of the dangers of polar bears.

Polar Bear warning sign, Ny-Ålesund

This building is the former telegraph station, in use to the 1960s I believe.

Ny-Ålesund telegraph station

This house was the very house lived in by Roald Amundsen for the duration of his time in Ny-Ålesund for his expeditions to the north pole.

The Amundsen Villa, Ny-Ålesund

Sadly only a short visit I only had time for a quick look in the museum.

Ny-Ålesund Museum

I also had time for a look in the shop. Mostly it sold food, medicines, clothes, cleaning materials and so on, but a fair part was also given over to souvenirs, where I was able to purchase a copy of the map Johanna had let us lock at on the boat on the way here.

Just as were walking back to the boat lots of other tourists were just arriving aboard that cruise ship we had seen earlier. It was nice we had been able to explore in a small group before far more people arrived.

Ny-Ålesund

Back at the harbour the captain of the boat had been preparing lunch for us (which was included), as the boat had a small hob that could be folded away when not in use. However we were told before we could eat it, we all had to fill out a disclaimer that we were all supposed to have signed before setting off! It was the usual stuff about being here at your own risk, that we might not make it if the weather was poor, follow the instructions of the crew etc! I guess they get in trouble if the right paper work is not collected even though it seemed a bit pointless to ask us to sign all that now we were about to leave!

Anyway lunch was a sort of broth with some bread and really nice and also nice and warming after being out in the cold!

Just as we were preparing to depart another boat moored alongside. I didn’t initially recognise the flag but the polish ladies soon did since it was flying the flag of Poland. They commented how the Polish really do get everywhere!

Johanna had also met up and introduced us to a friend of hers who lived in Ny-Ålesund and was I believe due to join the company as a tour guide in a few days time. Johanna made it clear she would love more than almost anything to live in Ny-Ålesund and explained that in winter Longyearbyen is in a valley so is dark and cold for much of the year whilst Ny-Ålesund is more open and so gets more sunshine.

Sadly our time at Ny-Ålesund was at an end and so after lunch was packed away we set off. We quickly picked up speed and as we were heading away we could talk to Johannas’ friend via the ships radio before we were out of range. It was nice to hear the sound of another person in this remote area!

The sea ice is at it’s thickest around March time and still retreating in June. Ny-Ålesund is 78 degrees and 55 minutes north. However the sea ice had retreated enough that our captain decided to take us a little further north. So he took us above the line of 79 degrees north. I was able to photograph it on my trusty old Garmin GPS (it’s a bit blurry because the boat was bouncing around so much).

Passing 79° north

I also photographed it on the ships own GPS.

Passing 79° north

As our captain commented this is seriously north and very few people will ever make it so far north.

Sadly we had to head back to Longyearbyen so it was soon time to turn south again and head back. Still now the weather had improved and we had some sunshine for the journey back.

(Note the bird flying just above the sea, too).

Svalbard

On the way back we passed closer to some of the glaciers, that stretched right down to the waters edge.

Glacier face, Svalbard

Soon we were taken right up close to one and it was such a beautiful site. The ice, especially at the lowest level is very blue in colour. This is because a glacier is formed when snow falls on the land. It doesn’t melt completely before the next winter, so more snow falls on top of it. So the ice gets gradually thicker and thicker and the ice at the lowest level is under such extreme pressure that most of the air is forced out of it, causing the blue colour. The pressure also causes it to melt slightly so the ice at the bottom, under the most pressure starts to turn to liquid and so causes the glacier to move, which it does with such force it tears way the rock underneath it (eventually leading to the formation of Fjords).

Glacier front, Svalbard

Here we could hear it creaking and occasionally small pieces would break off as the edge of the glacier reached the sea. Small chunks of ice were floating in the water and indeed the sea was slightly icy around the end of the glacier.

Glacier front, Svalbard

Photos don’t really do it justice, you can’t really appreciate the size and scale of it from the photos. We headed slowly along the edge of the glacier, so we could take it all in.

Glacier face, Svalbard

Glacier front, Svalbard

Glacier face, Svalbard

Sadly it was soon time to move on and so we headed back out into the sea for our journey back to Longyearbyen.

Glacier front, Svalbard

Glacier front, Svalbard

Glacier front, Svalbard

As we headed back to Longyearbyen a mist descended and our captain therefore had to reduce speed as it’s not safe to travel at high speed in such conditions.

Near Longyearbyen

This caused the two Polish ladies a bit of concern as they needed to get back to Longyearbyen on time in order to catch their flight home.

Of course out here there is minimal communication. Our captain did have a sort of CB-radio to talk to other ships, but there aren’t many of those. He went through it and it was nice to hear a few other human voices in such a remote location (even if most of them weren’t speaking in English so I had no idea what was being said). He also had another radio which I asked about and it turns out this is just a normal FM radio like you would find in a car but as he pointed out it’s pointless out here because there aren’t any radio stations to tune it to!

Johanna needed to call a taxi to get us all back from the harbour anyway so it was agreed we’d go to the airport first so they had a chance of catching their flight, however Johanna could not call for a taxi until we were nearly back to Longyearbyen, because there is no mobile signal out at sea.

Fortunately the mist soon cleared and we were able to pick up speed again, so we were not badly delayed. Soon we were heading back along Isfjorden and towards Longyearbyen. When we were in range of land Johanna was soon able to get a phone signal and call the various taxi companies. It took some time for one to be available and even then we were told there would be a wait (though in practice not much of one).

As we approached the harbour at Longyearbyen our captain spotted the catamaran he usually drives, also heading back to Longyearbyen. The race was on! He made a point of going close and overtaking, waving madly at his friend driving the boat, determined to get us back to harbour first (which indeed he did). He was certainly enjoying being able to drive a faster boat than he usually did. I’m not so sure Ricard, who was in the toilet at this point, enjoyed it quite so much as we were all thrown about a bit at such speeds. The captain of course gets a sort of “bouncy” chair with suspension, but us passengers are not so lucky!

Soon we were back in the harbour and now had the challenge of finding a parking spot! The captain did a good job of “parallel parking” the boat in a tight spot between two much larger boats and our taxi arrived within 5 minutes.

In the end the two Polish ladies arrived at the airport 55 minutes before their flight. With hand luggage only and at such a small airport I’m sure they would have caught it no problem and I was impressed they had managed to pack so much into their short time here!

The taxi then drove us back into the town and dropped us off at our various hotels.

All in all it had been a fantastic and very memorable day. It is not every day after all you get to visit the most northerly town in the world! I was so glad I had been able to do it and the weather conditions had been favourable for us to make it there and back with no problem. I was also very pleased that our tour guide was really lovely as was the captain and that I also got on really well with the other people on the tour.

Several companies operated trips to Ny-Ålesund from Longyearbyen, details below. Be aware that it’s not cheap (I used most of my work bonus for this trip!):-

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link.

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Aberdeen (abandoned walk)

May 2015

3 days in to my trip of my 2015 I awoke to the predicted weather of heavy rain and strong winds. The forecast was for this to last for the entire day and it was also not particularly warm. I had planned today to begin walking northwards from Aberdeen. However I’d had two long days where I had covered a lot of miles and I was feeling quite tired and was not especially motivated to get out today and spend the day walking in the wind and rain.

I enjoy walking but it’s much harder to enjoy it in such conditions when not only is it uncomfortable but also visibility was poor. Also most of today’s planned walk would be along beaches and I really wanted to do that when the weather conditions were more favourable. One of the advantages of my approach to doing this walk (of basing myself somewhere fairly central for my planned walks and doing each walk as a day trip) is that I’m not committed to completing the days walk (regardless of conditions) in order to get to my next nights accommodation, for example.

So I decided to do something I very rarely do. I abandoned my planned walk for the day and instead decided to head into the centre of Aberdeen, have a look around, get lunch and then head back to my hotel.

One thing I sometimes miss is that by sticking to the coast I rarely have time (and often the energy too) to head inland to look at other things of interest I’m passing close to. From the coast I would see nothing of the city centre and as Aberdeen is the 3rd largest city in Scotland (after Glasgow and Edinburgh) I figured there would be something of interest.

Aberdeen is known as the “Granite City” because many of the buildings in the city are made out of this stone and that was certainly something I noticed.

From my hotel (Premier Inn Portlethen) I wandered down to the railway station, which took around 20 minutes. I had timed it for one of the infrequent trains into Aberdeen because overall this worked out a fair bit faster than taking the bus (as I had found, Aberdeen is quite a congested city so I preferred to travel by rail than road).

At the station a lady from some sort of local organisation was doing a survey of all the waiting passengers to find out where they were from and why they were using the station. She was hoping to put the case to the Government (and/or Scotrail) that more trains should stop at the station and that if this was done more people would use the station. She was very pleased to hear therefore that I was a visitor, lived many hundreds of miles away and was using the station to visit Aberdeen and that it was the first time I had done so. I guess it made a change from ticking”local resident communing into Aberdeen for work” which was the case for most other people waiting for the train. (The strategy seemed to work too. At the time, the station had a peak-only service. The service was increased to be much more frequent in May 2016 and from December 2018 it was increased so there is now a more or less hourly service).

Anyway having reached Aberdeen, I’m afraid I didn’t have a guide book or anything so simply wandered around the city streets looking at what I saw.

I suspect I missed some of the main highlights, though I did go in the cathedral. However here are my photos of Aberdeen.

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Golden Square, Aberdeen

Marischal College, Aberdeen

Marischal College, Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Castle Street, Aberdeen

Castle Street, Aberdeen

Castle Street, Aberdeen

Aberdeen

Aberdeen

I quite enjoyed my wander around, even if it was shorter than I’d planned (it turned out there was not as much to see as I hoped and the weather meant even city-wandering soon meant I was quite cold and damp). It turns out on a very wet Sunday in May, Aberdeen is surprisingly quiet! The rather more restful day too meant I had far more energy the next day to for my next walk.

Postscript: If you detect my heart might not really be in this post you would be correct. I had considered skipping this day and simply writing up my next actual coast walk instead but I’m just not in the mood. My last new walk on the British coast was in September 2019. I had at the time of writing (March 2020) planned to resume my coast walk in less than 2 weeks time.  Clearly that isn’t going to happen now and I have been so looking forward to it over the winter, especially after what has been such a miserable winter with storms, and rain most weekends so far. In fact I have 5 trips to the coast of Scotland all booked up (and paid for) months ago for 2020 and am doubtful I will now be able to go on any of them.

I genuinely never expected in my lifetime there would the possibility that even going out of the house for a walk, alone, from my front door would run the risk of being fined or even arrested (as I believe is the case in Spain currently) or that I might have to print out and fill in a form justifying why I’ve gone outside at all and risk a fine if not (as is the case in France currently). I suspect we will see similar restrictions in Britain by the weekend, potentially making it illegal to leave the house other than for the purposes of buying food (which has in itself also now become very difficult given most of it is sold out by 9am). Since last week I am already not allowed to go to work anymore (instead mandatory working for home for all employees, at least as long as the heavily indebted company I work for survives), so effectively living at home in solitary confinement for the foreseeable future. I am not sure when I will be able to resume my coast walk (even when we are finally allowed out, which it seems could now be as much as 18 months time and growing by the day, will I still have a job or savings to fund it and will any hotels still be open or public transport running?) and I am beginning to wonder if I shall continue with it at all.

Posted in Aberdeenshire | Tagged , | 6 Comments

281. Aberdeen to Stonehaven

May 2015

This was the 2nd day of my 4-day trip to Aberdeenshire and this time I had not had to reach Scotland from home so I had the whole day in which to do this walk which was just as well because it was another quite long one.

I did not get off to the best of starts this morning. I was staying at the Premier Inn Aberdeen South Portlethen which is on the edge of Portlethen (near the A92). Whilst most Premier Inn hotels are in my experience very good this was one was not so good as the receptionist had uttered the words no traveller likes to hear when I checked in the previous evening “your room is located in the annex”.

So I had to walk across the car park to get from my room to have breakfast. Once finished breakfast I hoped to return to my room in order to clean my teeth and get my (already packed) rucksack to begin this walk. Unfortunately the plastic key-card I had been issued had other ideas. The annex I was in had a card reader on the door before you could even get into the building. My room key was not being recognised and unlike when I arrived last night the door was no longer propped open with a fire-extinguisher! So after a few attempts I had to head back across the car park to reception. The receptionist apologised and gave me a new a card. I walked back across the car park. I tried to get in. Once again, no luck. Back to reception I go. This time the receptionist agrees to come over to see the problem. The lady is shall we say rather large and takes a long while to walk over the car park and is out of breath once she has done so. When she reaches the door she tries and also finds it doesn’t work. Then she takes the card out and sees it is wet, dries it off and then it works. The explanation is apparently that because it had rained over night and the card slot doesn’t have a roof above it, the rain goes into the car slot and then the reader stops working. If you put your card in a few times, dry it off each time it comes out wet, then it gets the water out of the slot and then the card reader works. I was awfully tempted to suggest perhaps they should locate the card reader somewhere that means it doesn’t fill with water whenever it rains – but I didn’t want to waste any more time!

Unfortunately the time this wasted meant I now knew I had missed the train I planned to catch from Portlethen station to Stonehaven because I didn’t have time now to walk to the station before it left. The service is very infrequent (the next one is not for more than 2 hours) so instead I decided to catch one of the far more frequent buses to Aberdeen and start from there instead. This took me on tour around seemingly every street on Portlethen before finally heading in the direction of Aberdeen so I was setting off about 30 minutes later than I had hoped (and in the other direction now!).

It took me a little while to find my way down from the bus stop to the waterfront once in Aberdeen. in the end I resorted to following signs for the railway station because I knew it was near there. On reaching the station I soon found my way and ended up by part of the harbour. It was packed with large boats, i’m sure connected with the oil industry, this being the main industry of Aberdeen.

Aberdeen Harbour

Aberdeen Harbour

Aberdeen Harbour

I walked along the pavement next to the busy road, frustrated that there wasn’t a pavement on the coastal side of the road (but there was a pavement on on side at least). As I neared the River Dee I could see from the map that the main road turned to the right, but I would need to go straight on. so I crossed the road and took the bridge.

I turned left into the first road I came to, running more or less along the north side of the harbour, but with industry between me and the harbour. To be honest it stunk of fish and was an unpleasant, dirty road (I’m not a fan of seafood). It also appeared to be heading straight into the docks ahead, but thankfully there was a road to the right which I could take.

Aberdeen Harbour

Aberdeen Harbour

After around 500 metres the industry seemed to be ending and it was feeling that I was leaving the city behind already. The last of the houses ended, I passed a few allotments and then a path went off to the left, which I followed. The path was now alongside a rundown concrete wall close to the road, with green grassy areas on top. It was obviously a popular area and I was pleasantly surprised at how soon I had left the city.

The coast in Aberdeen

For a while I had a choice of lower or upper paths. I opted for the lower initially, along the bottom of the sea wall, but I was concerned it would soon end or the tide would block my way, so I soon opted for the top path. For a while this was on the road, but in places it looks like the road is falling off the cliffs, as part of the left hand lane was fenced off! I was having problems with my camera again as a few shots were coming out 100% white.

Heading further out I could soon see the sea properly and was surprised at the number of boats moored out to sea. The path I was following soon took me to what was marked as an old battery (Torry Battery). I walked up to this and it was open and free, although there was not a lot left on the inside, so I didn’t linger and being open to the public meant it had beer cans etc all over the place.

Aberdeen battery

Aberdeen battery

Back to the coast I soon reached the mouth of the harbour, where there is a large breakwater.

Aberdeen harbour

I turned with the coast to head south, rather than east as I had been so far. Ahead was the lighthouse of Girdle ness and I soon reached it.

Girdle Ness lighthouse

According to Wikipedia the lighthouse is still in use, though at the gate was a “Scottish Tourist Board Visitor Accommodation” sign so clearly at least some of it is now a holiday cottage or bed and breakfast too. Sadly the road leading into it said “Private Please Keep Out” so clearly it is not possible to visit the lighthouse.

I continued on the now fairly quiet road around the corner into Nigg Bay. This was a pleasant beach with a mixture of sand and shingle and with the low grassy cliffs just behind the beach quite sheltered too.

Nigg Bay

Nigg Bay

Sadly I gather things have changed here dramatically since I did this walk, and not for the better.

I gather this beach has been lost completely now, as the whole area is being developed as part of an expansion of Aberdeen harbour. I did this walk in 2015 and where I found  a nice beach, soon there will be industry and docks. I’m glad I did this bit of coast whilst it was still pleasant.

I dropped down onto the beach for a while and then continued on the coast road around Nigg Bay. At the far end there was then a proper coast path which I could join. The path climbed onto the low cliffs and soon offered a fine view back to Nigg Bay.

Nigg Bay

Rounding the little headland of Greg Ness I soon came across this pleasant rocky little bay.

The coast south of Nigg Bay

The coast path continued right around the cliff top and the coast was becoming spectacular now. I had left Aberdeen behind now and was pleased to find the coast through the city had been more pleasant than I expected and it had not taken me long to get out of the city and into countryside.

I soon came to a spectacular narrow rocky inlet, marked as Doonies Yawns according to my map, it was rather spectacular and the path took me right inland to the railway in order to get it around it.

The coast south of Aberdeen

This turned out to be the first of several of these impressive rocky inlets that I was now walking around. Presumably formed where there were areas of softer rock, more quickly eroded by the sea.

The coast south of Aberdeen

The coast south of Aberdeen

The path too was excellent running right along the cliff top on a pleasant area of undeveloped land between the cliff top and the railway line.

The coast south of Aberdeen

The coast south of Aberdeen

Behind the railway line is the vast Altens Industrial Estate (it runs for about a mile) but I did not really notice it on the coastal side of the tracks.

The weather had improved since I set off too and now the coast was bathed sunlight under mostly blue skies. This was a beautiful and quite spectacular stretch of coast which I very much enjoyed.

The coast south of Aberdeen

At a place marked as Easter Croft I came across this ruined house. It seems the croft is no more.

The view back where I had come was impressive with the rocky rugged coast making for a wonderful site for me, though perhaps less so if navigating a boat along here, heading for the safety of Aberdeen harbour ahead.

The coast south of Aberdeen

The coast at Souter Head

The coast at Souter Head

The coast path continued past Souter Head but near Neither Loirston it turned inland to cross the railway line and head inland. However a path of sorts continued along the coast, albeit it a little rougher now. I decided to stick to the coast instead and exercise the right to roam.

The coast at Cove Bay, Aberdeen

The coast at Cove Bay, Aberdeen

The coast at Cove Bay, Aberdeen

The coast at Cove Bay, Aberdeen

Ahead a very small stream was easy to cross and I continued behind the glass-houses of Cove Bay nursery to emerge onto the road heading for Cove Bay harbour.

The coast at Cove Bay, Aberdeen

This is a pretty spot and clearly still used by small (fishing?) boats with the little trolleys used to haul them onto the beach away from the waves. It was a pretty little spot and I decided to stop here for lunch as it was around midday and I knew I had some road walking ahead.

Cove Bay Harbour, Aberdeen

Cove Bay Harbour, Aberdeen

Sadly the road to the harbour is a dead-end Ahead the coast had some private houses in amongst the old industry whose gardens went right up to the railway line and then with a steep bay going right to the railway line beyond it. There was no way through along the coast here so I was going to have to head inland of the railway for a time.

So I re-traced my steps back up the road from the harbour to cross the railway in Cove Road. I continued on this road for around 1 mile (it did have a pavement) to the turn off for Findon (also the route of cycle network path 1). This soon passed the entrance to Black Hill quarry on my right.

After another mile or so this minor road cross back over the railway line. This took me past another quarry, (Findon Quarry) and then past Middleton Farm. Just passed this I ignored the road off to the right and continued still on this minor road that was now marked as “Unsuitable for Long Vehicles”, except that little of the road I had been following up to now had seemed suitable, either!

The road soon took me into the small village of Findon. The map I had downloaded from the Aberdeenshire Council website suggested I could follow the track to St Ternan’s Well (as marked on the map) where I’d find a path down to the beach and over the stream (confirmed by the presence of “FB” (short for footbridge) on the OS map) so I decided to go this way.

The road soon became a track which headed downhill and what I saw ahead was not something I had expected to come across at all! Submarines. Lots of little bright orange submarines!

Survitec Survival Craft at Findon

This turns out to be the base of a company that services (and perhaps make) these survival craft designed for under water exploration I think! The track went right past them and there must be a hundred or so of them all piled on the cliffs!

Survitec Survival Craft at Findon

Thankfully at the end the path went between fences and then down steps as hoped to the little rocky beach. It was nice to be back at the coast after all that road walking inland.

The coast south of Findon

The promised bridge existed and took me over Burn of Findon and up to the cliffs on the other side where I had a view back to all those little old submarines, a strange sight!

Burn of Findon

Survitec Survival Craft at Findon

Now there was a proper coast path again for a while that took me right around the cliff tops to reach the small harbour at Portlethen.

Portlethen Bay

Portlethen Bay

Again there was a small fleet of beach-launched boats at the back of the pebble beach.

Cammachmore Bay

Cammachmore Bay

From here I then followed the road into Portlethen Village which is a separate place from Portlethen itself, which is the other side of the railway line. From here the map I got from the Council website showed me I could continue on a road (Old Coast Road) that soon became a private track. This took me to the village of Downies.

Here I turned right along the road (Downies Road) and then I could turn left along to Burn of Daff. A footbridge crosses the burn here and then continues ahead to reach another track I could turn left along towards Newton Hill and back towards the coast.

In fact I soon came across another unexpected path, because it isn’t marked on the Core Paths map from the Council. This was signed, somewhat ridiculousness  as “Footpath to Dangerous Cliffs”.

Dangerous Cliffs

I mean really is that the best description someone could come up with?! Anyway I followed this path to the “Dangerous” cliffs. They were lovely and an area marked as Coble Boards according to the map. They were clearly very popular with sea birds anyway.

The coast near Downies

The coast near Downies

The coast north of Newtonhill

Sadly the path to these “dangerous cliffs” turned out to be a dead-end so I headed back to the main path and followed this south around the outer edge of Cran Hill.

Ahead I could see the next village, Newtonhill whose houses I could see on the cliffs ahead.

The coast north of Newtonhill

Another path (nor marked on the OS map) turns off this just after it turns inland to head south to Newtonhill Bay where a footbridge crosses the Burn of Elsick where I reach Newtonhill Bay, which has a few fishing shacks on it. (The page of Core Path maps on the Council website is useful for planning here).

The coast at Newtonhill

I followed the path up from this beach to reach the road in Newtonhill.

The coast at Newtonhill

Here I followed Hillhead Road heading inland and took the next road off to the left (Villagelands Road). This turned to the right and became Anderson Drive. At the end here I could follow a path up to Greystone Place and then turn left to reach the library.

Here though not marked on the maps I found a path running beside the building and then alongside the railway line on the coastal side of the tracks, clearly used by the farmer.

The coast north of Muchalls

I soon reached a bridge over the railway which joined this track to the farm house (Mains of Monduff). I turned inland here because I had a burn to cross just ahead and wasn’t sure I’d be able to do so on the coast.

The coast north of Muchalls

I passed Mains of Monduff and here was able to pick up a footpath that goes behind it and crosses the burn on a footbridge.

The path then continued into the village of Muchalls. Here I followed the road through this small village (Marine Terrace) to then reach a path that took me under the railway and then back to the shore near Muchalls Beach.

Muchalls Bay

It was a spectacular stretch of coast here with wonderful views of the rocky and rugged coast.

Muchalls Bay

Muchalls Bay

I was able to make my way along a rough path as far as East Muchalls where there was a ruined house on the cliff top.

The coast south of Muchalls

I managed to get past this and then down to the Burn of Muchalls which I was able to cross on rocks just before it dropped down a waterfall.

Easter Muchalls

Once over I was able to follow a rough path along the cliff tops again around Doonie Point to soon reach the pleasant little bay beyond (seemingly un-named). This is a mixture of sand and shingle backed by grass that has grown at the back of the beach.

The coast south of Muchalls

The coast south of Muchalls

Rounding the back of this bay I was able to continue just outside the field fence around the edge of the cliffs to reach an odd man-made pool of water at Hall Heugh. I went the landward side of this. I don’t know what it was built for but whatever it was has long gone.

The coast south of Muchalls

The coast south of Muchalls

I continued on the side of the field nearest the railway line where another bridge crossed the tracks, connected the fields to the farm the other side of the tracks. The track also crossed another burn and I now followed the field edge round to the cliff top again.

The coast north of Stonehaven Muchalls

Ahead is the wide beach of Long Meg, another sand and shingle beach. I followed the cliff tops above the beach on fields (there wasn’t a proper path) crossing another small burn and then reaching a 2nd bridge over the railway line.

Perthumie Bay

Perthumie Bay

I had another steeper burn to cross ahead (this one had made a bit of a valley) and it was rather overgrown so made it harder to cross over. Once over I continued on the field edge and again this field had it’s own bridge over the railway to the farm house beyond.

Finally I emerged over the fence onto Stonehaven Golf course. Here I walked across the golf course to reach a proper path again. This took me under the railway line which crosses Dean of Cowie and once over the stream the path headed along the other side of the valley back to the shore.

Rail bridge at Den of Cowie

I made my way down to the beach and followed it, soon being lit up by the low early-evening sun.

Skatie Shore near Stonehaven

The coast at Cowie

The coast at Cowie

At the far end of the bay the path climbed back up to the cliff tops where I could see Stonehaven ahead of me.

Craigeven Bay

Now back on the golf course I followed the edge of the course around to a ruined chapel (Chapel of St Mary and St Nathalan).

The chapel had obviously been long abandoned (I don’t know why) as graves had subsequently been built within the remains of the walls after the roof had gone.

Ruined chapel in Craigeven

I did wonder about the history of it because the graveyard beside the ruined chapel is large with many graves.

Beyond the chapel I headed inland towards the railway line again in order to get around another small burn and now followed a rough path along the cliff top.

The coast north of Stonehaven

Soon I was looking down on the roofs of Stonehaven itself.

Stonehaven

I continued around the field edge to reach the road and here I turned left and followed the road into a layby and then a path down into Amy Row and back along this road to the beach. I then followed the promenade south alongside the lido to the point where Cowie Water flows out to the sea, where I started my last walk from.

Stonehaven

Stonehaven

I was exhausted as this had turned into a harder walk than expected due to finding my own way along the tufty grass of all those cliff tops.  It was now around 6:30pm so I headed inland to the main road and got the bus from there back to my hotel near Portlethen (I could take the bus directly, which was nice).

The beach at Stonehaven

When I got back to the hotel I found the door to the annex in which my room was had been propped open with the fire extinguisher again – clearly I was not the only one that had had problems with the door again!

This had been a long walk but a lovely one. The walk south out of Aberdeen had been more pleasant than expected and the stretch of coast down to Cove Bay was lovely and it was nice to have a proper coast path for most of it. Sadly the next stretch of road walking was a bit dull but the coast south from there had been spectacular and the scenery really stunning. I hadn’t expected it to be so good and despite the sometimes tough terrain it had been a very enjoyable walk and I was pleased I had managed to avoid walking on the A90!

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-

Trains run regularly between Stonehaven and Aberdeen, generally around 3 an hour Monday – Saturday and take around 20 minutes. On Sundays trains run approximately hourly. The majority of trains are operated by Scotrail but long distance trains also run through from London via York, Newcastle and Edinburgh operated by LNER. CrossCountry also runs services between Stonehaven and Aberdeen from the south west, Birmingham and Manchester. As well as trains there are also regular buses operated by Stagecoach Bluebird.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link.

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280. Stonehaven to Johnshaven

May 2015

This was a lovely (though long) walk along a beautiful section of coast where I discovered a castle I had seen before (but had no idea where it was at the time) and a wonderful RSPB reserve I had no idea existed either. This was also the first of a 4-day trip to the east coast of Scotland so I was starting the day at home.

On my previous trips to the East Coast of Scotland I had travelled from home by train. However the journey was now getting very long. Setting off from home in the morning the earliest I could arrive on a new part of the coast was around 3pm now. That didn’t leave much time to do a walk on the first day of my trip, as I like to and meant I lose most of the day travelling. The other problem I had was that a new operator, Virgin Trains East Coast had taken over trains on the East Coast mainline, the route of trains between London, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness. One of the first “improvements” they made was to get rid of the “East Coast Rewards” loyalty scheme which I had used to good effect to get a few “free” one-way trips by train, replaced with a tiny amount of Nectar points instead. Another thing that changed as soon as Virgin Trains took over is the prices of the cheapest “Advance” tickets (available if you book 3 months or so in advance) had also gone up considerably since they took over.

I could no longer ignore the fact that travelling by train was now both slower and more expensive than flying. So instead I booked a flight from London City Airport to Aberdeen to start this walk, with FlyBe (this route no longer runs). This cost me £43.88 each way, about £15 cheaper than the train (and since London City Airport is within the London Travecard zones it cost me the same to get to the airport as to London Kings Cross) with a 9:25 departure time and an 11:15 arrival time, which would get me to the coast considerably earlier than the train and without having to get up at the crack of dawn.

I took a train from my local station to London Waterloo, the tube to Canning Town and then the Docklands Light Railway to London City Airport. Check in and security was very quick (as it’s a very small airport). The plane was a small turbopop, small enough I banged my head going through the door and with seats with only 2 seats on one side of the plane and 1 on the other, an unusual layout. The flight was only around half full and I soon found out that though it didn’t say anything about this on the booking the flight was actually operated by the Scottish airline Loganair, under a franchise agreement with FlyBe (they mostly operate independently now). The safety demonstration told me this was a Saab 2000, a surprise because I thought Saab only made cars, not aeroplanes and secondly the “2000” in the name suggested this model had been named when putting “2000” in the name of something made it sound futuristic, which meant the plane was likely now very old. Nevertheless it got me there without any problems. Take off at London City Airport is steep as the runway is very short (only small planes can operate there) and they have to gain enough height to get over the sky-scrapers of Docklands just beyond. Once up we were soon in clouds so there was not much to see most of the way and arrived a bit early at Aberdeen airport.

I had travelled only with hand luggage so had no luggage to collect and being a domestic flight there was no need to queue for a passport check. So I was quickly outside the airport and waiting for the bus into Aberdeen. This got stuck in a horrible traffic jam just near the station in Aberdeen. Twice the traffic lights ahead went green but the bus didn’t move at all and they went red again, because traffic on the road we were trying to join was completely stationary the whole time. Thankfully the helpful driver let me get off even though we were not at the stop so I could walk the last bit to the railway station. Here I bought lunch and a train ticket to Stonehaven and then took the train to Stonehaven. I had lunch on the train to save time and so arrived at around 12:35pm. Still making for quite a late start, but earlier than if I had come by train the whole way.

I did the walk this way around because I had less time to wait for a train at Aberdeen to Stonehaven than a bus to Johnshaven, so I would be walking south today to end where I ended the previous walk the previous year.

I made my way from the station through the small but pleasant town centre to the sea front. Here I was pleased to find a promenade and a bridge to take me over Carron Water, which flowed through a man-made channel over the beach.

Stonehaven

Irritatingly after taking a couple of photos I was now having trouble with my camera. It was a Canon EOS400d that I had taken on pretty much all my walks (not just coast walks) since I bought it way back in 2008 and on all my holidays. It must have taken well over 100,000 photos. As a result it was now somewhat battered but had served me very well, but it seemed today sometimes the shutter would stick open and I’d end up with a photo that was entirely white. Trying again a second time (with the exact same settings) and the picture would come out fine. However I also had a smaller camera with me as a back up (I’d need it in a few days time!)

The coast had the backs of the houses alongside it here, which was not the most attractive but at least it had been brightened up by this wire mesh model of a dolphin.

Stonehaven

The beach at Stonehaven was pebbles and shingle so I was glad of a promenade along the back of the beach which was much easier to walk on.

The beach at Stonehaven

I was also very pleased to note a sign telling me how far it was to Dunnottar Castle which suggested, as I hoped, there was a coast path at least this far, which mapped the map I had got from the council website. (At the time Aberdeenshire Council produced a map of the coast of Aberdeenshire showing the nearest routes you could walk along the coast, with the route using official footpaths where they existed and roads where not. Sadly these seem to have disappeared from the website now).

The promenade soon ended at at a car park overlooking the pretty harbour.

Stonehaven Harbour

This was backed by some attractive houses, with hills beyond and even a bit of sandy beach. I made my way around the harbour.

Stonehaven Harbour

Part way round the harbour I could take a footpath that climbed away from the harbour up onto the minor road above. The height gained gave me a nice view back and I could now see the whole town of Stonehaven laid out before me, it was quite pretty.

Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

The sun had made an appearance too and it makes such a difference with the sea now blue and all the colours so much brighter. The path soon reached the minor road and I followed this up to the point it turned back inland.

Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Here the main route of the footpath headed south but instead I took a feinter path around Downie Point, which gave me a fine view back over Stonehaven.

Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Rounding the end of the headland I now had Strathlethan Bay ahead, a sheltered shingle beach backed by cliffs which were topped by gorse, it looked lovely in the sun.

Strathlethan Bay, Stonehaven

Strathlethan Bay, Stonehaven

Now I was back on the official path which was easier underfoot and followed right along the cliffs, below the war memorial I could see on the hill to my right. This rounded the pretty bay, which became very rocky at the far end (Bowdun Head). There path missed out Bowdun Head and the field alongside had crops right up to the edges so I had no way of getting there without damaging the crops so stuck to the official path.

Strathlethan Bay, Stonehaven

Strathlethan Bay, Stonehaven

This soon took me to the next bay, Castle Haven. This was another pretty beach with some rock stacks at the north end of the beach and the ruins of Dunnottar Castle on the headland at the other end. The castle was bigger than I had realised.

Strathlethan Bay, Stonehaven

Castle Haven, Stonehaven

Castle Haven, Stonehaven

The path soon approached the castle and though I had never been here before or even been aware of the castle I suddenly realised I knew the view well.

Dunnottar Castle

The reason being at the time I had a computer running Windows 7 and had selected the “United Kingdom” theme and a photo of this castle was one of the pictures that would be periodically set as my PC desktop wallpaper. When I saw it on my computer I had no idea where the castle was, but now I was standing in front of it.

The castle has a spectacular location on a steep headland that has almost been cut off from the mainland. I was no having a bit of a dilemma. I had quite a long route planned for the time I had available already and when I finished the walk I needed to catch a bus to the outskirts of Aberdeen where I was staying and would need to get something to eat before everywhere closed, too. I couldn’t really spare the time. Yet I really didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to visit this beautiful castle now I was here because if I didn’t, when would I come back? I decided to head down the steps to the castle entrance. This confirmed it was open and now I had come this far I decided to have a look around. I could always make it a quick look around.

On reaching the entrance I paid my fee. The man in the office asked if I wanted to leave my bag behind (it was quite big, because I had 4 days worth of clothes etc). I initially declined but he insisted he didn’t mind and was sure I’d prefer not to be carrying it around the castle. He was right of course so I accepted his offer and it was nice to be rid of my heavy bag whilst I looked around the castle.

Dunnottar Castle

The earliest parts of the castle date from 1392. The castle was then extended over the years but was sold in 1717 and stripped of anything of value which includes all the furniture, floors and ceiling and so the castle soon falls into ruins. It was bought by the current owners in 1925 who have now preserved the ruins for the public to visit.

Dunnottar Castle

It was a fascinating place to look round because whilst most of the houses within the castle walls no had no roof you could still make out the walls and rooms, which still had fireplaces present in some.

Dunnottar Castle

Part of the main building too still had a roof (or more likely it was restored later) giving some hints of what life would have been like in the castle. Here are a few photos of the castle.

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

The location too was absolutely spectacular too and the castle gave me good views of the coast I had just walked and what lay ahead.

The coast from Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

The coast from Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

My “quick” visit had turned into about 45 minutes. I retrieved my rucksack from the helpful man at the ticket office and continued my walk. I hadn’t allowed for this time so I was hoping progress onwards would be easy, so I’d make good time. Initially there was a good path around Old Harry Bay, to the south of the castle where I suspect people walk to photograph the castle. Sadly at the next field the path ended rather abruptly.

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

From here on I found a very rough path that run along the cliff tops between the field fences and the cliff top. The trouble was the grass was long and I could not see where I was walking all the time and it was un-even too.

Old Hall Bay

It would be easy to twist an ankle, so I had to take it carefully and this meant progress was slower than I’d like.

However I did not want to miss this bit of coast if I could help it. It was spectacular and the nearest alternative was the A92. I knew this road was really busy and I really didn’t want to be dodging traffic on it, so the rough route along the cliff tops was preferable.

Tremuda Bay

The coast here was very rugged with high cliffs dotted with little inlets, caves and rocky coves and it was extremely beautiful. Some of the caves had broken right through forming rocky arches in the cliffs.

Tremuda Bay

Tremuda Bay

If you look below you might just notice a small waterfall flowing into the sea in front of this cave, too!

Near Trelung Bay

The coast north of Crawton

The coast north of Crawton

As I made my way along the rough coastal “path” around the edge of the cliffs I saw the first person I had seen since leaving Dunnottar Castle.

Guillemots at RSPB Fowlsheugh

I was also seeing now a huge number of sea birds.

The coast north of Crawton

They were quite literally clinging to the cliffs in places and flying around the bay. Guillemots seemed to be most in evidence. Soon the rough path gave way to a proper path again and I met a notice.

Guillemots at RSPB Fowlsheugh

The coast north of Crawton

This told me I had entered RSPB Fowlsheugh and also another sign announced the way I had come showed “End of RSPB reserve trail” and that the nature reserve actually ran for another 1KM in the direction I had come from but “the path is not suitable for walking and for your own safety we ask visitors not to go beyond this point”. Well it’s too late to tell me that now since that is the way I had just come!

It went on to tell me the RSPB were working on plans for a proper coast path from here to Stonehaven and in future years you might be able to walk from Stonehaven (which was of course exactly what I had just done)!

Still this meant I now had a proper path ahead again following the cliff tops and giving views of the sea birds nesting on the cliffs. I couldn’t believe just how many birds there were here (mostly Guillemots) seemingly clinging on to the almost sheer cliffs faces. It was an incredible sight and another thing I hadn’t expected to come across on this walk.

Guillemots at RSPB Fowlsheugh

Guillemots at RSPB Fowlsheugh

The noise to was quite something (as too unfortunately, was the smell)!

The proper path constructed by the RSPB continued right along the cliff tops to the road at the hamlet of Crwaton.

I followed the road past the half-dozen or so houses of this hamlet and around the ruins of another building (a church perhaps).

Crawton

Now there was no proper cliff top path again so I was back to squeezing between the field edges and the cliff tops. It was worth it though as there was more lovely scenery.

I started to see a few daffodils on the cliff top but suddenly the fields to my right were full of them, in neat rows. They looked to be in full bloom and I presumed they were grown to be cut and sold as flowers but if that was the case they’d have to be cut soon or they’d go to waste!

Daffodil fields near Crawton

Daffodil fields near Crawton

Whilst the going was hard to scenery more than made up for it.

The coast between Catterline and Crawton Bay

The coast between Catterline and Crawton Bay

The coast was spectacular with another rock arch cut by the sea at the base of the cliffs near Trelong Bay.

The coast between Catterline and Crawton Bay

I stopped to take a few photos and then rounded the corner into Trelong Bay itself, another remote and pebble and shingle beach, it looked lovely from the cliff top but there was no easy way down.

The coast between Catterline and Crawton Bay

Trelong Bay

Rounding the bay I was soon approaching the village of Catterline and soon spotted it’s harbour wall below me.

Trelong Bay

Catterline Bay

The path I had been following soon bought me out on the road above the harbour and I was able to follow this around the pretty little bay that the village is built on.

Catterline Bay

There was a lower path down to the beach itself but I could see it was a dead-end with no way up from the beach at the far end so I stuck to the cliff top path.

Catterline Bay

At the end of the village I continued around the edge of fields soon with a view of Todhead Point and the lighthouse ahead.

The coast south of Catterline

Before I could get there though I rounded the corner into a river valley.

The coast south of Catterline

This is Catterline Burn and there was no bridge across it at the coast.

The coast south of Catterline

The banks were also very steep, but using my hands and zig-zagging down I was able to make it down to the water without falling over. Then I was able to step over the water on rocks sticking up above the surface of the water, though it was not easy. Once over I had another very steep climb back up the other side and I had to try several places until I found a safe way to get up.

The coast south of Catterline

Though the fields here didn’t have daffodils growing in the seeds had clearly blown around the coast because there was daffodils growing at the field margins.

Having made it around that valley I very soon had another valley to cross, Glasslin Burn. Ahead though I had the beautiful view over Braidon Bay and the burn itself formed a little waterfall at the back of the beach.

Braidon Bay

It was a beautiful spot and worth the effort it took to get here. Heading inland though the burn briefly disappeared under part of the field (in a pipe underground, perhaps) so I was able to get across this one more easily and then follow the field around to find another path around the back of the beach.

Braidon Bay

At the far end of the beach Braidon Burn flowed out onto the beach forming another valley.

Braidon Bay

I crossed the burn on the beach and then climbed up the grassy cliffs alongside a line of telegraph poles. Again it was hard going and I was relieved to reach the top and the field edge. I could follow this around to Todhead Point and the lighthouse and enjoy the resulting stunning views.

Todhead Point lighthouse

I believe the lighthouse is now privately owned but it looked well cared for and has a spectacular location.

All this making my way right along the cliff tops had cost me a lot of time. It was around 5:15pm. I quick estimate on the map and I reckoned I had about 13km to go – probably a bit over 3 hours! Trying to stick to the coast all the way would take much longer than that but thankfully there was now a road that served the lighthouse so I opted to follow that.

It took me a little inland from the lighthouse and then ran parallel with the coast to Hallhill farm where it seemed to go right through the farm yard. Under the Scottish right to roam you are meant to avoid walking through farm yards but the map suggests this is a public road so I felt it was OK to continue and didn’t get accosted by any farmers.

From Halhill I followed the road as it turned inland for about 500 metres and then turned back left to follow along the road now about 500 metres from the coast. However the land was higher here and so I could still see the sea, even if I wasn’t directly along the cliff tops, and look over more fields of daffodils below.

Daffodil fields near Kinneff

Daffodil fields near Kinneff

I continued along this road passing Whistleberry and Kinneff.

The coast between Inverbervie and Kinneff

The road was much easier to walk on and had very little traffic so I made good time along this part. I was however soon approaching the A92, which the road would join. I was determined to avoid walking on the A92!

The A92 near Inverbervie

So just after Grange farm on the map I turned left on a track heading for some mobile phone masts. I followed the fence around the edge of this area when I reached it and made my way through some gorse beyond to pick up a track at somewhere marked as “Craig David” on the map!

Approaching Inverbervie

I followed this to Kinghornie and then took a path from there down to a footbridge over Bervie Water and then through Inverbervie Caravan park back to the beach.

The coast at Inverbervie

In truth I really should have stopped here. It was nearly 7pm and I still had almost 2 hours still to go! Thankfully it is May and it stays light late this far north. Thankfully from Inverbervie I can follow the path up from the beach and then follow National Cycle route 1 which now follows the course of an old railway line right along the coast.

One thing about railway lines is they tend to be flat and so this makes for easy walking. So it proved and the next village, Gourdon was only about 1 mile away along this track right along the coast. It made for an easy walk and I soon reached the harbour, now devoid of water because it was low tide and the old lifeboat station, now a maritime museum.

Gourdon Harbour

Gourdon

Thankfully at the other end of the harbour I came across a welcome sight – a fish and chip shop. I decided to stop here for pie and chips. I didn’t have time for a sit down meal and it seemed likely I’d not get to my hotel before dinner was finished so this was my best opportunity to get something to eat. Thankfully service was quick so I headed out onto a seat to eat it by the harbour.

Now at least with some food and more drink I could continue as I knew the buses from Johnshaven ran until quite late and I’d really like to get there to avoid leaving a gap I’ll have to come back and fill on another day.

Now I had about 5km to go to Johnshaven. Thankfully the going proved easy as I could follow the old railway line again out of the town, passing another small field of daffodils.

The coast near Gourdon

The coast near Gourdon

The old railway line continued past a dry stone wall for a while right along the shore and soon crossed Benholm Burn.

The coast north of Johnshaven

The last mile and a half was hard. I was tired as it had been a long walk and in truth probably too long. But the end was in sight now.

The coast north of Johnshaven

Soon I reached the caravans at the edge of Johnshaven and continued down to the harbour where I had ended my last walk the previous autumn.

Johnshaven

Johnshaven Harbour

However I then had a further walk of about half a mile from the harbour up to the A92 to catch the bus. I was very glad to reach the bus stop and a sit down. Thankfully I had just made it in time for the 2nd to last bus.

It was dark by the time the bus arrived and I was glad to get on it into the warm (it was quite cold waiting at the bus stop now the sun had set) and head towards Aberdeen and find that it was a coach. I was staying at the Premier Inn Portlethen hotel and I was able to get off this bus on the A92 from where it was about a 20 minute walk to the hotel, which had cost me £105 in total for 3 nights which wasn’t bad. I pretty much went straight to bed as it had been a long walk and a long day!

This had turned out to be a really brilliant walk. The coastal scenery had been stunning the whole way and the highlight had been the wonderful castle at Dunnottar on it’s spectacular headland. However the scenery continued to impress as did the massive number of sea birds nesting on the cliffs south of there at RSPB Fowlsheugh which I also hadn’t expected. South of there even when I had turned a bit inland the roads were lined with fields of daffodils in bloom. I had been glad of the old railway line to follow at the end too.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-

Stagecoach bus route X7 : Perth – Glendoick – Incthture – Hawkhill – Dundee – Muirdrun – Arbroath – Inverkeilor – Montrose – St Cyrus – Johnshaven (A92)Inverbervie – Stonehaven – Aberdeen. Hourly, seven days a week. It takes around 20 minutes to get between Johnshaven and Stonehaven. Note that this bus stops on the A92 in Johnshaven and not in the village itself.

Stagecoach bus route 747 : Montrose – St Cyrus – Johnshaven (Square) – Gourdon – Inverbervie – Kineff – Stonehaven – Kingswells Park and Ride – Aberdeen Airport – Balmedie – Ellon – Ellon Park and Ride. Approximately once every 2 hours seven days a week. It takes around 30 minutes to travel between Johnshaven and Stonehaven but this bus does serve the centre of Johnshaven.

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