The North Aberdeenshire Coast
After spending a pleasant evening visiting friends who have recently moved up to Peterhead we headed out under a brightening sky to explore a few places along the eastern and northern Aberdeenshire coast.
Our first stop was Rattray Head, reached by leaving the main road shortly after passing the St Fergus gas terminal and following a narrow, potholed, muddy road along to a parking area besides the old keeper’s cottages (now converted into an eco-hostel). It was overcast and a strong northerly wind was whipping across the dunes.
We took the short walk through the sand dunes and out onto the beach at Rattray Point. The Rattray Head lighthouse stands on a granite pedestal a short way out from the beach. Sand was being blown along the beach by the strong wind and we spent only a short time enjoying the biting air and the crash of the breakers.
Our drive took us around the corner, bypassing Fraserburgh to reach Pennan on the north coast. A short drive further on brought us to the parking area for Cullykhan Bay and Fort Fiddes. We followed the grassy track and boardwalk down to the bay itself where the high cliffs shelter you from the worst of the wind. It is a beautiful quiet place and we spent time exploring the beach and combing the rock pools on a raised shelf below the cliffs. On the way back up we spotted an opening in the cliff with daylight at the far end. It was quite creepy though and we only dared go so far before heading back out.
We then headed up and along the headland, admiring the blowhole below the cliffs to the west and then taking in the views across the turbulent waters to Pennan itself.
After surviving the steep drive down the twisting road to the foreshore of Pennan we parked up and wandered along the front. The wind was up and rain threatened as we passed the pretty collection of cottages. At the Pennan Inn the snug was full but we got a seat in the restaurant and enjoyed a delicious steak lunch.
We stopped to take a few photos of the Local Hero telephone box and wandered briefly around the harbour before heading off down the coast to Macduff.
By now the day was brighter but it was still windy as the breakers beyond the harbour wall testified. We decided to head into Macduff Aquarium which proved to be an excellent visit, designed to get you close to the habitats, flora and fauna of the Moray Firth and North Sea. We saw the sea anemones and jelly fish being fed, were entertained by hermit crabs and rays, and spent far too long trying to differentiate between x and x.
After that it was a simple drive home taking us almost due south back to Aberdeen.