Angus Coastal Trail

cover03 copyAfter devoting the summer of 2012 to the Angus Glens, I spent much of this year exploring the county’s shoreline, hiking the coastal path between Broughty Ferry and Montrose and discovering some real gems along the way. The fruits of these labours have now come to fruition in the publication of Angus Coastal Trail.

The linear route is 68km in length, although there are plenty of detours and distractions as the trail progresses north.

From the Firth of Tay, the mouth of Scotland’s longest river, sandy beaches, backed by a gently rolling grassy hinterland, give way to more rugged and dramatic scenery.

Beyond Arbroath, spectacular cliffs, interspersed with craggy coves, secret caves and unique geological features, rise from the insistent ebb and flow of the tide. Beyond the cliff top village of Auchmithie, the coastline reaches its highest point at Red Head, a towering sandstone promontory.

Carlingheugh Bay, near Arbroath

Carlingheugh Bay, near Arbroath

The terrain softens again, the forgotten hamlets of Ethie Haven and Corbie Knowe lying at the southern end of Lunan Bay, a sweep of golden sand. However, a more exposed and inhospitable stretch of shoreline leads round the coast to Scurdie Ness lighthouse, standing guard over the entrance to the county’s busiest port, Montrose.

The trail can either be walked in its entirety or the various sections can be undertaken as day walks.

Fully illustrated, Angus Coastal Trail includes clear mapping and a wealth of background history, geography and wildlife information, plus practical advice on accommodation, public transport and places to eat.

The book is currently available from Amazon for Kindle and Kindle apps. Click here. However a paperback is on its way soon…

Tentsmuir Point

Pillbox near Tayport

Pillbox near Tayport

Research for a book on narrow gauge railways took me to Tentsmuir Point the other day, on a quest to find the remains of an old wartime wagon revealed by the shifting sands.

Setting off from the Fife town of Tayport, I soon encountered Second World War relics in the form of tank traps. As part of Tentmuir Coastal Defences, scores of these sturdy concrete blocks were manufactured by Polish soldiers in 1941 and placed in a line along the high water mark. This stretches from Tayport round the point although thanks to the shifting landscape and the gradual expansion of the coastline seaward many of the blocks now sit some distance inland from the water.

Close to Tayport I passed the derelict compound of a former meteorological station originally linked to RAF Leuchars and two pillboxes that cast a heavy stare over the estuary of the River Tay.

Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve

Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve

The line of tank traps extends east along the beach from here towards Tentsmuir Point and I followed it dutifully over the sand to an information board heralding my entry into Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve. While the main path continues east towards the sea, I opted to bear right and follow the block line south. Along the way I passed a couple of gun emplacements, the sand slowly filtering into and filling their dark interiors.

The line of blocks eventually ended, so I set a course for an obvious wartime landmark, a green prefabricated corrugated iron hut (known as Green Hut) mounted on concrete legs.

The wagon

The wagon

A short walk inland from here I found the railway bogie, mounted on a plinth. The 2ft gauge wagon – along with sections of rail and corrugated iron sheets used to mould the tank traps – was discovered by a walker after the beach was eroded by winter storms. It is believed that temporary railway tracks were laid to convey materials used during the making of the blocks and the track and wagons were simply abandoned after the war.

For a walk around Tentsmuir Point click here.

Isle of Rona

Located to the north of Raasay, the Isle of Rona was once home to a thriving crofting community, then only sheep. Now, with two residents and a landscape returning to the wild, it makes an ideal getaway for those who savour solitude. Read my feature on this remote island in the current issue of the excellent Scotland Outdoors magazine (opens as a pdf file).

Elie Chainwalk

Enjoyed a cracking day out on the Elie Chainwalk today. However, as I arrived at the start point, it became apparent that some folk who set out to tackle the route are quickly put off by their fear of the unknown. Today I met two families facing such a dilemma. Having heard about the chainwalk, they wandered across the beach from Earlsferry keen to give it a shot. But when they arrived at the start point and were confronted by the first chain, both were immediately deterred by the prospect of what lay ahead. Neither group attempted the scramble. It was a real pity to see early hopes dashed by uncertainty. They may have been more than capable of doing it, but will now never know. For anyone interested in tackling this unique coastal scramble, I have put together an illustrated step-by-step guide which I hope will shine some light on the delights of the Elie Chainwalk and help quell some of those fears. Read more…

Angus Coast Walk

Angus is crying out for an official coastal trail. The county’s shoreline is littered with geological gems and hidden treasures. As yet no official route exists, although the local authority is looking at plans to create one and their job will be made easier by the fact there are already paths and tracks in place for much of the way. Read more…