The Scottish Coast’s Hidden Treasures
Scotland is home to a number of impressive sights and despite the unpredictable weather (hello snow in ‘summer’) it is a country well worth a visit. Exploring the coast can be an impressive way to take in Scotland but despite its beauty; many coastal highlights remain relatively unknown to visitors. Check out a list of essential places to visit on the Scottish coast
Located on Scotland’s East Coast, Muchalls is a small coastal village to the North of Stonehaven. The Muchalls Beach and Cliffs are one of the most idyllic locations in Scotland. There are several coastal walks available around the area that differs in difficulty, allowing you to explore different part of the cliffs. If you take the steep, gravelly path from the car park down the cliff, it leads to Muchalls Beach. However, as well as being steep the path can often be narrow and is quite close to the cliffs edge at times, so you may wish to wait for a day with good weather! Once on the pebbly beach there are several other paths you can take to explore different parts of the beach.
Despite its beauty, Muchalls is often overlooked when people visit Scotland and as a result the beach/ cliffs are usually relatively quiet, even on sunny days. I have often visited and only seen a handful of other people there at the same time. As there are different parts to the beach, this mean you can have it all to yourself at times.
2. Cruden Bay / Slains Castle
Sauntering across the wooden footbridge over the water from the Harbour Road leads to the spotless, soft sands of Cruden Bay. There’s around 2 miles of unspoiled sand, great for taking a long romantic walk or flying kites in the wind. Surrounded by towering sand dunes the view of the beautiful blue water is dazzling. The village is so peaceful you can even hear the music of the ice cream van approach as you make your way across the sand! Visitors are often attracted here as it is home to the Cruden Bay Golf Club, so watch out for flying golf balls if you are climbing up the sand dunes!
Situated not too far from this, further along the rocky coastline, lies Slains Castle. Confusingly there are two ‘Slains Castle’s’ located nearby one another, so sometimes this ruin can be known as ‘New Slains Castle’ instead. The impressive ruin overlooks the North Sea and has spectacular views of the cliffs and coast. However if you wish to visit here care must be taken. The Castle is located right on the cliffs edge and even from within the ruin when you look out the stone where the windows would have been you can be taken aback by how close you are to the edge! The water crashing off the cliffs below is bracing. Making the castle even more chilling though is its history. It is said that Dracula’s castle was inspired by Slains, as Bram Stoker stayed nearby in Cruden Bay when writing the novel.
3. Torry Battery
Since 1860 the Torry Battery has overlooked the entrance to Aberdeen harbour. Today it is probably best known for being one of the best places in Europe to spot dolphins! Wildlife can often be observed from here, especially dolphins which are often seen at the Harbour Entrance. Even though it’s so close to the city, it can feel like you are in a remote coastal village!
This is definitely a must-see if you are in the Aberdeen area and has proven to be so popular that the RSPB (The Royal Society for Protection of Birds) has set up a ‘Dolphin Watch’ project every summer, from April through August. From the car park a short walk can take you down to the sand, where you can even dip your toes in the North Sea (but be prepared to have very cold feet!). This is a lovely spot for a picnic on a sunny day, however the Battery doesn’t have any amenities so you will have to bring everything you need with you. Also, being Scotland, it is probably wise to wrap up warm as it is almost always a little windy!
From here you can also watch as ships enter and leave the harbour, particularly beautiful at sunset! The Torry Battery also has an excellent view of the lighthouse near the end of the beach.
By Catriona Kidd
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