Saturday 27 June 2015
Fraserburgh to Macduff
I awoke to glorious sunshine (and a fire alarm), fantastic (not so fantastic). I rushed my cooked breakfast (first one for a month) in order to catch the early bus to Rosehearty, which would avoid a walk along the main road. I was looking at today’s route when the bus arrived, and I didn’t get on. The driver even asked me if I wanted to get on as I had my bag in hand, but the thing was I couldn’t face another long day with wet feet and no paths. There were no defined paths on the map virtually the whole way to Macduff and I knew that my walk would involve forcing my way through more long grass, nettles and thistles, and probably navigating my way around some farmers’ fields and climbing fences. None of it was appealing. I had a quick rethink and decided to catch a bus all the way to Macduff instead. This new plan meant I had a couple of hours to kill in The Broch (Fraserburgh) so I headed to the very corner, the NE tip, in order to contemplate life. Fraserburgh marks the start of the Moray Firth, all 500 miles of coastline up to Duncansby Head (John O’Groats).
Kinnaird Head Lighthouse was the first one to be built by the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1787 and it was built into an existing castle. Now it is part of the Fraserburgh Lighthouse Museum. There is also a heritage museum (although I was too early for either museum to be open) and I wandered around the grounds.
I walked right onto the Head and sat on a bench looking at the sea for ages. I watched a few birds and just enjoyed the sunshine glinting on the water and the sound of the sea. It was lovely and peaceful.
I eventually walked into town, the usual small, grey streets I am becoming accustomed to up here. The pavements are so skinny that there are no fronts to any of the shops and I find it strange walking down a street with shops where you can’t see the shops until you’re right outside them. I bought a newspaper and sat in a cafe to enjoy a leisurely Saturday morning coffee and paper…just like home!
I caught the bus and we stopped at a couple of the small fishing towns I was missing. They looked stunning, albeit the sun was shining today. The cliff walking I was missing looked pretty tough as there were lots of beautiful valleys containing burns that flowed down to the sea, so there would have been a number of steep descents and climbs, with fences to clamber over. The Tore Burn valley leading not into Cullykhan Bay looked the biggest and most impressive, filled with gorse.
In Gardenstown there were some kids jumping off the harbour wall into the sea. It was a shame I missed Troup Head as that is a rather dominant feature along the coast and also an RSPB reserve.
Once in Macduff I headed back East a little, along the golf course, to get a good view of the cliffs I had missed.
Tarlair outdoor pool is a relic waiting to be rescued. It could be amazing and it’s in a phenomenal location.
Although it probably doesn’t get much sun if the last 3 weeks are anything to go by.
I walked into Macduff, enjoying that my boots were properly dry for the first time since Sunday. I had forgotten what colour they were! Rain clouds were coming overhead so I ducked into the Macduff Marine Aquarium and spent a couple of hours learning more about the diversity of marine species in the Moray Firth. It is an excellent facility with a huge tank open to the elements. I learned that there are 30 types of shark in the Moray Firth (including dog fish and other related species), and that kelp ‘trees’ can grow up to 30m tall. Hopefully I will see some more dolphins, and maybe even whales.
I walked through the Macduff streets, up the hill to the war memorial, and admired the view across to Banff and beyond. I could just about make out the hills in N Scotland, across the Moray Firth.
I checked into my guest house (not looking forward to the karaoke or the help-yourself-breakfast) and was advised there were only 2 options for dinner: the Chinese, or the Knowes Hotel. I went for the hotel. Great view from my window seat and there were hardly any customers in the only restaurant in a reasonably sized town on a Saturday night. This seems to me to be a difference between Scotland and England.