Sky. Sea. Sand. It’s been a summer of these. Even on dull days it’s been warm and walks on the beach, beautiful. But I’m donning the tour guide hat again and we’re heading along the Aberdeenshire coast, starting up North and working our way round the corner and down.
Two generations of quines walked the coast route between Banff and Whitehills back in February. We got rained on, but we got a rainbow. And amazing colours of sky and sea. Below is the Red Well, said to date from Roman times, also said to be haunted by an old lady ghost and to be aligned for sunrise sunbeams on the summer solstice. I lived in Whitehills for a short time as a child and remember the beehive shaped building being called ‘the witch’s hoosie’ and kids shutting each other in there for ‘fun’. It’s now locked.
No time to linger, we’re skipping along into summer to Gardenstown and St John’s Kirk. There it is, up on the hill between cloud shadows.
There is an exciting tale of local ladies winning a battle with the Vikings in 1004 by weaponising their stockings with rocks and sand. Three Viking skulls were subsequently built into the walls of the then under-construction Kirk.
Today it’s a peaceful place, though the landscape is probably much the same as it was during the era of battling lassies and Viking warriors.
Time for a picnic, and an exploration of the various bays at New Aberdour.
Let’s lie on the ground and gaze up at the red rocks and blue sky above…
Let’s watch, entranced, as sand martins dart in and out of their nests. Whoops, forget to cover the home made pizza so it’s now covered in sand… Never mind, just time for a poke around in a rock pool before we go…
Okay. Shoes off. We’re going to race along the golden shore at Fraserburgh, getting the sand right up between our toes. If we’re feeling energetic we can climb Tiger Hill, that large dune to the right, and enjoy enhanced views of the beach and town.
A reflective moment.
Calming right down now. We turn the corner. Out comes a book and a bar of chocolate as we sit on the rocks at St Combs.
Walking boots on for this next part…
On we go, past Peterhead, to seek out mermaids at the Bullers of Buchan. There are folk tales of them being spotted here in the Sea Cauldron:
It’s actually quite a dangerous place, with cliff edges all round, so do take care.
We’ve come to the end of our coastal oddessy. Just one more stare at that silvery sea at the Bullers, and then it’s home for a cup of tea.
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Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.
Out in paperback and on Kindle October 18th 2019.