Day 267: Aberdeen to Catterline
Distance: 26.20 miles
Ascent: 6868 feet
Weather: Overcast, With Rain Early Afternoon
Accommodation: Pitched in Robertson’s garden, Catterline (kindly offered)
I was fairly well rested after my rest day, and after a very large breakfast I was ready for the off and much more streamline after a haircut. The first thing to do was get out of Aberdeen, which was not too complicated, though I did have to change the route slightly as there was harbour renovation work going on near Girdle Ness meaning the road was fully closed but fortunately there was a very easy diversion which cut that small section off.
A little after Nigg Bay I was finally able to join the coast path, and what a well made coast path it is. It is narrow and on the cliff but at some point they have actually put gravel down and compacted it making for a very good surface to walk on. For this reason I made very quick progress to Cove Bay.
At Cove Bay due to the railway line and a quarry, I believed I couldn’t follow the coast directly so I had to divert inland slightly onto a quiet road. This road wended its way to Findon, and just after this village there were hundreds of large liferafts in a yard and it turns out there is a company here that maintains them for all the oil rigs etc.
From Findon there was a trail which used paths and farm tracks to firstly get to the little village of Portlethen then though Downies before finally reaching Newtonhill. Newtonhill has a quite big Tesco so I bought some bits for lunch and then sat outside and ate them. The forecast for today had been dry all day but unfortunately after this it rained pretty heavily and I had misjudged and not put my waterproof trousers on so my trousers, leggings and other lower half stuff was soaked through. I just had to hope for a dry hour and everything would dry on me.
From Newtonhill I took a farmtrack through Mains on Monduff until I got to Muchalls which was a very quaint and pretty village. After this village I knew I could have a few issues as no path and the only other option was the verge of the busy A90. But I went for an improvised route firstly taking a track to Easter Muchalls and from there going across the fields, some of these were arable and had already been harvested so made for easy walking, but a lot were just really overgrown making for hard progress. After climbing many barbed wire fences I eventually came near to a deep gulley, and decided to cross the railway here on the farmers bridge.
This left me with about ½ a mile of the busy road but fortunately the verge sort of had a path even if walking only a couple of foot from HGV’s flying by is not overly fun. It was absolutely tipping down at this point. Just after the turnoff for Stonehaven a car pulled up and asked if I wanted a lift, I explained I was doing a charity walk and had to walk the whole way and then the lady kindly said when you pass the main square knock on the red door if you would like a tea or coffee.
So once I reached the main square I did knock on the red door, and the lady so kindly made me a tea and gave me some snacks. She had also put the fire on so I was able to warm up. I could genuinely of sat here all day, but with dinner offered in Catterline I still had two hours to walk and it was already almost 4.
Fortunately it remained dry after Stonehaven. There was a steep climb out of Stonehaven and up onto the cliffs and before long I reached the very impressive Dunnottar Castle. This has a very varied history, including a resident pet lion, and the fact that the Scottish Crown Jewels, which were here when Cromwell sieged it, were smuggled out of the castle on a little boat and buried at Kinneff Church where they remained for 7 or so years. It is a truly beautiful ruin and some parts have even been done up with watertight slate roofs and new windows.
From here there wasn’t really a path to Crawton, though there was a vague track for a while between the fence and the cliff but after a while I climbed the fence and into the fields as it was easier and safer walking here. When I reached what at a quick glance looked like an old WWII bunker, there was a proper path courtesy of the RSPB. In fact this wasn’t a bunker at all, but an almost brand new bird hide which was in a stunning location and built very well with a lovely intereior. If it hadn’t been for the fact I was meeting someone later I would have kipped in here for the night, as it would have worked as a bothy perfectly and no one would come here in the evening as the birds have already migrated from the cliffs.
I reached Crawton and then not long later I reached the village of Catterline. Derek who I had met at Uags Bothy with his son about 6 weeks ago, had got in contact and very kindly offered dinner and to allow me to pitch in his garden. Today had been quite tiring so I was very grateful for this. We had a lovely macaroni and then brownie for desert as well as a catch up and then very tired I headed of to my tent.
A good day, with lots of little village sections linked together someway or another, and some lovely scenery.