- Chris Jones
Day 69 & 70. Friday & Saturday 21st & 22nd April. Cruden Bay to Fraserburgh.
It was a result bumping into John and Karen in Collieston on Sunday, John was going to be in Aberdeen collecting provisions for his business so he kindly picked me up from the train station and drove me back to his house in Cruden Bay. Karen had prepared a delicious lasagne which was ready when we got back and after a lovely evening sitting chatting with them and their son Ellis, my bed was calling me... It never ceases to amaze me just how generous and trusting people can be, I had literally bumped into these lovely people as they were decending from the cliffs, we had a brief chat and here they were allowing me to stay in their house. Beautiful people and thank you both so much for looking after me.
The coastline from Cruden Bay was stunning, it was a fresh morning but no forecast for rain and I was feeling good as I'd just had 4 days off, 2 of them sat on a train to Lincolnshire and back. The train from Aberdeen follows the coastline south so it was great to jog my memory, spotting the places I'd walked through, the places I'd pitched the tent and the few places where I may have nipped into the occasional pub for a little liquid refreshment. 😉
Back up in Scotland and raring to get walking again, in my eagerness to get going, I dropped a clanger, out onto the head at Cruden Bay I walked around the headland to discover a huge gorge with no way over !!! No choice but to turn round and walk all the way back to find an alternative path that led inland where I could cross, bloody idiot Jones, check the map before you set off in future!!!
Tryggve Gran had a similar start to his day back in July 1914 when he set out from Cruden Bay to attempt to fly across the North Sea. Twenty miles out he flew into a huge fog Bank so had no choice but to turn back, he narrowly avoided crashing on landing by overrunning the beach and only avoided running into the rocks by turning his plane into the sea... Not out off, he fuelled up, had a cuppa and had another go after lunch, 4 hours later he landed in Stavanger in Norway becoming the first man to fly across the North Sea. He had also been part of Captain Scott's team, supporting the expedition to the South Pole, clearly a man with adventure coursing through his veins although very possibly just a little bit mental...
There can be no denying, this part of coastline is stunning. Difficult to truely appreciate just how stunning with a photo and the vast number of birds now breeding on the cliff faces offer plenty to look at while negotiating the cliff tops.
Slains castle was interesting, built in around 1596 and owned by the Hay family who accidentally became part of the aristocracy after they rallied the Scots to victory against the Vikings, mainly by prodding deserters back onto the battlefield with plough beams... the family were involved in many battles over the years and the castle had many visitors, possibly the most famous was Bram Stoker who used to visit every August. He started writing Dracula in 1895 and the distinctive octagonal hall in the castle featured in Stoker's description in Castle Dracula. And you thought he wrote the book in Whitby didn't you ? So did I but apparently not...
Most interesting for me though, the family left in the 1900's and the castle was sold in 1922. The minimum price stipulated was £10,000, which included 322 acres of land. It was purchased by a building contractor who stripped the roof in 1925 and sold the lead for more than he paid for the entire castle and the land !!! Since then, the castle has been left as a ruin... I'm guessing the builder may have been Scoucer but then again, I scoucer would have just had the lead away without buying the property first.... 😬
I actually managed to sit in the sun for half an hour at lunch time, naked but for my sweaty pants, glasses and hat... the warmest I've been on this journey so far. I'm getting thd jump with always feeling cold, it was amazing to get some heat into my bones. I'll get some photos for you ladies next time I promise !!! 🥴
I got to Peterhead in the late afternoon just as a heavy sea mist was rolling in off the sea. I met a few of the Freemasons in their club for a pint after I'd had some dinner and I decided to push on out of the busy town to find a pitch. I'd walked nearly 18 miles and I'd had enough so tucked in behind some trees in the grounds of a hotel. It wasn't ideal but it was quiet and safe and I needed to sleep.
A very long beach walk the following morning past the heavily guarded gas terminus at St Fergus, I think I walked for about 12 miles on the beach and never saw a single person. A huge beach that literally went on for miles but was completely unspoilt. I thought I could see the carcas of a whale a long way off in the distance.
When I eventually got there, it was the wreck of a very old and very big timber ship. Proof I guess that nobody ever ventures up the beach this far, the wreck had clearly been there for a long time.
It had stopped raining when I eventually got to Fraserburgh. There was a small campsite on the edge of the town, I needed a hot shower so £10 for the pitch was a bargain and the shower was superb.
A good meal in town and I was back in my tent all snuggled up in my bag for 9pm. Another Saturday night and I was that knackered I hadn't even the energy to wander around the pubs to experience the night life, I must be getting old !!! 🥴