Welcome to Our Backyard – The Mearns Coast
So far in our travel blogging odyssey, Pamela has been having all the fun, getting to write about our travels. However, in this intermittent series of blog posts, I am going to share our day trips with you from around my hometown of Aberdeen, Scotland. To introduce myself, I am Barry, Pamela’s husband and co-founder of Tailor-Made Itineraries and avid traveler.
I have an admission to make – I have not explored enough of my home region, or indeed my own country! I am guessing that I am not the only one to say this, but I have spent so much time travelling the world, that I often forget to check my own backyard. So I pledged this year to seek out the places I haven’t been to in Aberdeen and beyond, and share them with Pamela, a native of the U.S. and Colombia, and we can experience together the beauty and wonders of my country.
Spring Has Sprung!
Mother Nature must have approved of our plan, because she gave us a stunning day for our travels. If you know anything of Scotland, you will probably know about the changeable and challenging weather! However, our March trip to the Mearns Coast, the area just south of Aberdeen, was done in glorious sunny weather. It was also the day before Mother’s Day, so we decided to venture forth with my parents, giving them a taste of a Tailor-Made Itinerary!
Do Go Chasing Waterfalls
Our first port of call was the small hamlet of Crawton, 20 miles south of Aberdeen, and in particular the bird reserve of Fowlsheugh (Scots for 'Bird’s Cliff'). Although this would have been an ornithologist’s dream, with over 130,000 breeding seabirds, our main focus was on the stunning cliff top scenery of the reserve. The Crawton Burn (stream) cascades over the cliffs at the Trollochy inlet. Although small in volume of water, it takes a fall of about 60 meters, straight over the nesting seabirds.
As we surveyed the surrounding landscape, the intriguing fingers of land stretching out into the sea caught our attention. Our itinerary research handily pointed out that these were actually ancient lava flows which had burned a path out towards the sea!
Carrying on from Crawton, we took a ten minute drive further south to Tod Head Lighthouse, but we had to make a quick stop at the daffodil fields on the way. It was a yellow explosion over the countryside!
The Shining Light
We found Tod Head Lighthouse perfectly perched on a headland overlooking Braidon Bay. The lighthouse was designed and built by David A. Stevenson (his cousin was the author Robert Louis Stevenson). The lighthouse was first lit in 1897, and came to be decommissioned in 2007, when, after review, it was felt that it was no longer required for general navigation. Although you can’t go inside the actual lighthouse, it is well worth checking out the cliffs and their views.
The Labours of Hercules
Next on the itinerary was a trip into Inverbervie, a small coastal town of around 2,000 people and the birthplace of the fantastically named Hercules Linton - the designer of the Cutty Sark clipper ship. Despite its size, it is quite a busy little place, with its ever popular fish and chip shop – The Bervie Chipper, and its intriguing furniture store – Touchwood. Needless to say, my Mum and Pamela had to check out the store, and I must admit it was a bit of a treasure trove, with handmade furniture all the way from Bali catching my eye in particular. Anyhow, I managed to escape the store with my credit card intact.
So, after prizing Pamela and my Mum out of the store, we headed down to Bervie Bay, walking alone the pebble beach, while trying unsuccessfully to skim stones along the water. Apart from the beautiful coast, I also noted the old Second World War defenses – the machine gun emplacement and tank obstacles.
The itinerary now took us a few miles inland, to Arbuthnot and the The Grassic Gibbon Centre. I always have a chuckle when checking out reviews of this museum on the likes of Trip Advisor – the amount of tourists who, perhaps understandably, are expecting to visit a monkey sanctuary is hilarious. So, to set the record straight, the centre celebrates the life, work and times of James Leslie Mitchell, better known by his pen name Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Sunset Song, his best loved novel, is set in the Mearns and was a success right from its first publication in 1932. It is a small, informative museum, with a great café, selling homemade soups, scones and baking – this is where we had a late lunch, and were very impressed with the food and service.
Life is a Beach
The yummy food had to be walked off, so we took a quick trip back to the coast, this time to St. Cyrus Nature Reserve. The natural barriers of inland cliffs and a seaward ridge of sand dunes protect the St. Cyrus grasslands, but for me, it is the wide, almost endless stretch of beach which is the highlight of the area.
As the sun started to set, it was time to head back home. However, we still found time to taste the delights of the aforementioned Bervie Chipper. We weren’t disappointed with our fish and chips and it was easy to understand why they had been previous winners of the best fish and chip shop in Britain.
Please join us for our next BESPOKE travel blog post when we stay in a traditional Scottish croft (cottage) in the middle of whisky country.
Until then, happy reading and safe travels!