This was to be the final day of my northern adventure, and to finish I wanted to explore the east coast, especially Aberdeenshire, before returning home that evening. There was so much that I wanted to visit, I knew this was going to be another epic day.
First to visit after leaving Inverness was the town of Portknockie and the distinctive shape of Bow Fiddle Rock on the coast. For some reason that I can’t remember, I have always wanted to visit here – the shape of the rock seems very meaningful to me, and I wonder if I read about it or saw a picture when i was younger. The whole area around the shore is very interesting, with caves and cobble beaches.
A detour out to Rattray Head to visit one final lighthouse proved to be unexpectedly worthwhile. The lighthouse itself was set into the sea beyond an impressive expanse of tall, rolling sand dunes. I could have spent hours here, following bird and rabbit tracks in the sand, and watching the cormorants wobble on the lighthouse railing as, pointing into the wind, they struggled to maintain their perches. It would be lovely to return on a sunny day with blue skies (and less stinging wind-blown sand!).
The next stop was the tiny little village of Pennan, which consists of a single row of houses reached via an incredibly steep section of road. It was the main setting for the remote Scottish village featured in the 1983 movie Local Hero. As a memento of the visit I bought a small alpine plant, potted into a little jar that had been left on a picnic table, and paid into the honesty box. These boxes become more visible the further one ventures from urban surroundings, and I love them – the reason is implicit in the name, implying a poignant moment of trust between strangers. There should be more of that in our world.
Following the coast further, I reached the Bullers of Buchan, an interesting section of coastline with tall, rugged cliffs and an archway leading to a circular lagoon called “The Pot”. Walking as close as I dared to the cliff edges in high winds was exhilarating. Wisps of spume, whipped up by the action of waves on rock, wafted past on the wind.
The cliffs here are streaked white with bird poo, and I can imagine it being a terrific spot to observe sea birds. A grey seal popped his head through the surf, sporadically – a brave creature.
With the afternoon fast expiring, the final stop before a return to civilisation was Slain’s Castle. Built around a 16th century core, this ruin sits above more cliffs and jagged rocks, and is quite a forbidding sight – it allegedly inspired Bram Stoker to pen Dracula. I enjoyed exploring the towers and pitch-black basement with my headtorch!
This proved to be the last stop before returning to the main roads and heading to Aberdeen for dinner, after which I enjoyed an evening drive all the way home to Helensburgh. It was a fantastic final day for my roadtrip, and one I would definitely repeat. There are so many interesting sights and stops that I could easily spend much longer travelling. On this last day I covered an additional 289 miles, taking the roadtrip total to 1,119 miles – it certainly didn’t feel like that many.
Have you toured around the coast of Scotland? Where would you suggest I explore for my next roadtrip? 🙂