Bluebell the motorhome is parked at Brit Stop 810 not too far from the fairy tale Glamis Castle.
We set off from Brit Stop no 828 at 8am in the pouring rain with the intention of following the coast road east. Aberdeen council have very handily provided a brown sign tour of the coast road, which is well signposted and takes in many places of interest between Nairn and Aberdeen. This has proved to be the basis of our tour today, following the route through the extremely pretty fishing villages of Portgordon, Buckie, Findochty and onto Portknockie to see some interestingly shaped sea rocks named locally as the Bow and Fiddle.
We then carried on the coast road to Cullen, which is, as it’s name suggests, where the fish soup, Cullen Soup was devised. sadly as it was breakfast time we didn’t get to have any soup today but next time we will make a point to!
Next stop, 10 miles or so down the road was the charming 17th century fishing village of Portsoy, which we thought rivalled the picturesque fishing villages found in Cornwall and Devon. The tall warehouses that stand next to the waterside have been restored into quirky shops and cafés and we spent a happy hour wandering around here.
It was then on through Whitehills, Banff and Macduff where although the housing wasn’t quite as pretty, the harbours were small and all had character. Gardenstown was the next stop, which was different to the other places we had visited today in that the village is built on a series of terraces which are set into the cliffs rising up behind the harbour. It was steep drive down into the village and in the end we couldn’t find the parking so turned round and came back up, stopping to admire the views half way up.
Next stop- our most anticipated of the day and tour- the small handsome village of Pennan. The hotel and telephone box were featured in the film local hero (you may remember we found the beaches last week on the west coast) and finding the village was every bit as exciting as we’d hoped! Again, it was a very steep drive down, with three hairpins and a tight negotiation round the hotel itself, but even this was exciting as the drive down also features in the film! The village is gorgeous and although the weather was changeable we loved our visit here! We didn’t go to the pub- mainly because dogs weren’t allowed, but the interior scenes were filmed elsewhere- this and the frosty welcome we received when nipping our heads through the door meant we didn’t mind missing a pint here.
After a quick lunch, and a careful drive back up the steep road to the main road, we headed to Fraserburgh- home to the first lighthouse, Kinnaird Head, that The Northern Lights society introduced in the 1700s. It’s unusual in that it’s built into the structure of 16th century Fraserburgh Castle. Although the original lighthouse is now “retired”- a new automatic one lights up the shores these days- there is an excellent visitors centre and lighthouse museum, plus you can have a tour of the old lighthouse. We absolutely loved it- for a very reasonable £6 each we spent almost an hour in the museum, and another 45 minute on a particularly interesting tour of the lighthouse.
Once on the tour (we were lucky to be the only ones as it was the last tour of the day) we were taken right up to the very top- and shown the light, how it worked and even allowed to go into the light room where the lens was. Unfortunately the high winds meant we couldn’t go on the roof (90mph gust had been recorded the hour before!!) but we were allowed on the balcony where we had a great view.
It really was a brilliant tour, and we learnt some amazing things!
We are now at our BritStop for the night, which is perched up on a harbour wall of a town near Aberdeen. It’s got an amazing beach, but we are too snuggled on Bluebell to go out now, it’s been a long, but brill day exploring and sightseeing, we can’t believe how much we managed to fit in! Tomorrow we are heading for Glamis Castle.