Going Coastal

sea at Fraserburgh beach - Going Coastal

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.

rainbow over the coast

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.

The Red Well, Whitehills

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.

St John's Kirk, Gardenstown

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.

The coast as seen from the walls of St John's Kirk, Gamrie - Going Coastal with Ailish Sinclair

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.

landscape at Gamrie

Time for a picnic, and an exploration of the various bays at New Aberdour.

New Aberdour

Let’s lie on the ground and gaze up at the red rocks and blue sky above…

rocks and sky

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…

rock pool

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.

reflective clouds at the coast

A reflective moment.

Fraserburgh beach - reflections at the coast

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.

St Combs beach

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:

the sea cauldron - Going Coastal and looking for mermaids!

It’s actually quite a dangerous place, with cliff edges all round, so do take care.

The coast at the Bullers of Buchan

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.

The coast at the Bullers of Buchan - Ailish Sinclair, author

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Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

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.

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43 Replies to “Going Coastal”

  1. Beautiful! Where did you stay? Or was this a day trip? I’ve got to locate this coastal area on a map. Must visit!

  2. Thank you for the tour. These are breathtaking photos. Must have been amazing to be there. <3 (It seems a lot of places were built to be aligned for sunrise or sunset on the summer or winter solstice.)

  3. The photos are lovely! They make me “homesick” for another trip to Scotland — the land of my ancestors. I probably won’t get there again from North Carolina, which makes me enjoy your photographs even more. Thanks for sharing.

  4. A really good advert for tourism in Aberdeenshire – our coastline and history seem to be a well-kept secret, aided and abetted by Visit Scotland’s obsession with castles and distilleries. But why did you bypass the coast around Peterhead? Scotstoun beach is lovely. There is a fabulous RSPB nature reserve at the Loch of Strathbeg (between Fraserburgh and Peterhead) and you can walk from the mouth of the Craigewan Estuary past bonnie beaches right into Peterhead. Looking for history? The Peterhead Town Trail covers over 500 years of events, stories and scurrilous gossip, from clandestine royal visits, rebellion and piracy, to plague, witchcraft and Peterhead’s answer to the Hellfire Club. Looking forward to reading your next adventures!

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