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  • Chris Jones

Day 73.Tues 25th April. Macduff to Cullen.

Macduff and Banff are so close to each other, I think the BnB I found was actually in Banff. A tiny room with a small single bed but a hot shower and decent radiators to dry all of my kit. I was in bed by 8.30pm, grateful that I wasn't in my cold wet tent...

Just along the coast at Whitehills, I found this fascinating little stone structure. The Red Well, or Reed Well as it's know. Built by the Romans over a natural spring of red tainted water, obviously water running through deposits of iron. They know it was Roman built because of the shape of the lintel, the roof and the foundation, it was built to last, and the dimensions are all metric, the door is exactly 1 metre wide & 2 metres high, the internal ceiling height is exactly 3 metres. Not fascinating in itself but the exact positioning of this little bee hive shaped building certainly is. If you stand inside the Red Well looking east towards Troup Head on the morning of the spring equinox, (21st March), and on the morning of the Autumnal equinox, (21st September), just when the sun is rising over Troup Head, the most remarkable thing happens. Just before sunrise at about 7am, the inside of the well is in perfect darkness. On those two dates and only on those two dates, when the sun rises over Troup Head, it darts a beam along the plane of the horizon and brilliantly illuminates the inside of the Well only; while all the surrounding area is still in complete darkness. In essence, the building is an ancient calendar, pointing out the beginning and end of the planting and growing seasons, incredible...

yeah, but what else did the Romans give us I hear you say... 🫣

Well, they didn't build this castle, Findlater Castle only dates from the 15th century although the site was a stronghold since at least the late 13th century. Not a bad spot and if it was later in the day I'd have wandered down there and pitched up for the night.

A challenging stretch along to Cullen, the place of the famous Scotch fish broth, 'Cullen Skink'.

The path certainly had me sweating and panting with all the climbing up and down. A really interesting sign in the middle of knowhere got me thinking, titled the Cullen caveman. A chap called Charlie Marioni who deserted from the French Navy in World War 1 while his ship was along side in Plymouth. He walked all the way up the east coast of the UK avoiding capture until he eventually decided to stop here and built a shed like structure in the mouth of a small cave. He lived here for 13 years minding his own business, trading in the village with things he'd make from timber washed up on the shore. Until one day, a moody old cow called Mrs Murray who was tenanted on land at the top of the cliffs decided to complain to the sherif about him being an illegal. He'd lived there for 13 years causing no trouble to anyone and despite the locals supporting him, the authorities had him arrested. He was fined 20 shillings and forced to register in Banff as an alien. He had the money so paid the fine but the jolt to his peaceful existence had upset him so he told some local people he was going back to France. Sadly, before he left he had one last duty to perform. He decided it would be cruel to leave his only two companions, his cats, so he went back to his cave, kissed his cats goodbye and drowned them before setting fire to his shack. The last anyone ever saw of him was when he walked dejectedly to the railway station to leave Cullen for ever. Apparently, the French wouldn't allow him to return so he spent the final years of his life in an internment camp in England where he died four years later.

What a sad story, the old boy was doing no harm to anyone... I sat looking over this view from the small cave in the cliffs for 20 minutes, imagine living here for 13 years, in all weathers, all by yourself....

I was lost in my own thoughts for the rest of the walk to Cullen, why have some people got to be such arseholes ? Why can't we just live and let live, I know he was a cheese eating surrender monkey (Frenchman) 🫣 but what harm was he doing to anyone, the poor old bugger... I'll bet he had some incredible tales to tell of that 13 years surviving in such a hostile place.

Anyway, feeling a little low, I was a little puzzled as I approached the edge of the town, a strange sight greeted me. Looking more closely I realised it was a huge pet graveyard and the first little monument I saw was a little West Highland Terrier sat right in the centre of all the little graves.

Move on Jones you big tart, I was on the edge of a wobble. Memories of my best mate in the whole world for 11 years were flooding in, my mate Ralph, our first Westie, who walked for miles and miles with me, listening to me reciting my Masonic ritual, listening to me whining my tits off about everything and nothing. He never judged me or questioned me when I spilled my head and my heart to him, when my head was falling apart and I couldn't understand why I was feeling so low... shit, I miss my mate Ralph. 🥹

I was tired and hungry, a lovely couple told me not to camp anywhere on this stretch of beach, kids are always driving up and down through the night so I'd not get any peace, they adviced me to go through the other side of the village, just past the pub... oh no, not a pub, I better just nip in and see if they any decent food. Being the home of the 'Skink', I had a bowl of that followed by a huge steak pie with veggies and chips, all washed down with a couple of pints, naturally.... while munching my way through my dinner, I was chatting to the guys behind the bar about my little walk as they were running around serving. Just as I was finishing up and about to leave, Michael came over and said his wife had just turned up to pick him up and if I wanted, there was a spare bed in his house. What a lovely couple, I sat with Michael and Debbie chatting, drinking tea for a couple of hours in their beautiful house. Michael and I are exactly the same age, they had lived in Mansfield until recently when they very bravely decided to change their lives completely and move to Scotland. More interestingly, Micheal has written 3 books and self published them. We had a fascinating chat about writing and publishing and I will be reading Michael's books in due course.

Debbie gave me a lovely piece of jade, shaped like a heart which has been in my pocket ever since, said to bring luck and help guide me. It didn't start well on the guiding me bit, I'd walked for a mile and a half when I'd realised that my AirPods weren't in my pocket, I'd left them on the bed so had walk all the way back...

thank you guys, it was a pleasure to meet you both and thank you for your kindness and hospitality.

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May 22, 2023

Wasn’t Mrs KAREN Murray was it ?


May 22, 2023

The emotions that pets, especially dogs, bring out in humans is immense ! They don't judge, they're always there for you ..... until they're not. That's the difficult bit. But I always say to people: remember the good times. Enjoying the catch up Mate. 👍👍😎


Ken Bevis
Ken Bevis
May 22, 2023

Great blog chris really interesting stay safe.


May 22, 2023

So many amazing tales from our land that we’d never hear about if you hadn’t set yourself this challenge Chris!

I really enjoy reading your blog and once you have your podcast up & running I shall listen to that while I’m out walking myself!


Cousin Janet
Cousin Janet
May 21, 2023

Thanks Chris for making me cry! again! over you doggy! You sure have a way with words, these pictures are priceless and it’s so amazing how god is putting all these wonderful people in your path!

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