Thursday 25 June 2015
Newburgh to Peterhead
Invernettie Guest House
When I looked out of the window this morning all I could see was mist. Not very inspiring but I caught an early bus back to Newburgh anyway. It wasn’t raining but everything was wet. I walked over the bridge crossing the Ythan River and then entered the Forvie Nature Reserve.
Here there is an Eider duck sanctuary and I saw lots sat by the water, as well as a few seals.
It was over a mile across the dunes and down to the beach. At one point I came up over a dune to be hit with a wonderful view of the Ythan, Eider ducks and terns everywhere.
A couple of miles along the beach watching the terns catching fish and then it was back into the dunes, past the remains of a village lost to the dunes many years ago, and then into Collieston. Like a number of coastal villages I pass, it has no facilities, no shop, cafe or pub, just houses. All the gardens seemed particularly well tended though and there was a dolphin on the cliff.
From Collieston I made my way up onto the cliffs. Although it wasn’t raining I was forced to don my waterproof trousers as the path was not well maintained and was overgrown with hip-height grass, nettles and thistles. It was so wet that it didn’t take long before my goretex boots were soaked through and I was squelching again. From Collieston to Whinnyfold was very hard going, following mainly sheep tracks that were narrow and difficult to see through the grasses so there was a lot of stumbling.
The weather was grey and misty for a lot of the day so the view of the first Slains Castle of the day wasn’t the best. I came across a farmer rounding up his sheep that were grazing on the cliff edge. He was putting them back in the field as they had sore feet from walking the same sheep tracks all the time, but they liked grazing the cliff. I had to listen carefully as his strong accent made him very difficult to understand. It was easy to understand his complaints about the weather though; he should have harvested his crop 2 weeks ago in the June sunshine, but not this year!
At one point I stumbled across a juvenile peregrine falcon perched on the cliff as I rounded a bend. We stared at one another before he took off. I stood and looked and so was screamed at by 3 peregrines circling above me until I moved far enough away from their nest. I was lucky to get such a good, close view.
I was able to take my waterproofs off at Whinnyfold (another village with just a few houses) as the path rounded the cliff top and dropped down to Cruden Bay so I could walk along the beach.
Cruden Bay beach was where a Norwegian Kommander took off from in July 1914 on his way to completing the first crossing of the North Sea by air. The town has 2 convenience stores and a pub so I decided to stop for a nice lunch as I was soaked and tired. I can recommend the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel.
The last stretch was on the cliff top again but this time there was a better path for most of it. I walked to the 2nd Slains Castle, which was bigger and more imposing than the first.
The mist cleared a bit and for half an hour I could see the old RAF Buchan golf ball radar on a hill. The cliffs were spectacular, particularly at Bullers of Buchan. All day I had the sights, sounds and smells of all the sea birds on the cliffs, and here there were some of the best views. I didn’t see a puffin or a gannet, but everything else was in abundance, even a couple of buzzards. Not only were there lots of birds to keep me interested but the rocks that formed the cliffs seemed to change throughout this walk as well. In better weather and with a better path this walk could well be at the top of the list of stunning cliff top walks.
I walked past an old quarry and down into Boddam, with its memorial to RAF Buchan personnel.
From here it was a short walk around a seafood factory, a power station, Sandford Bay and back to the guest house on the Southern edge of Peterhead. It was late and starting to rain. It had been a long day but the cliffs and the birds had been spectacular.