Unlike previous trips this one wasn’t planed in advance it was more an off the cuff trip which came about after I took ownership of a motorhome. I always planned to visit Dunnottar Castle but never fancied driving there and back the same day so here was my chance to try out the van and to visit the castle. As it was my very first trip in the van I thought two nights would be long enough to try it out and to get to know how to operate things. As it turned out after two nights I was wishing I had booked 3 or 4 nights.
Stonehaven is a lovely coastal town just south of Aberdeen and is most famous for the Hogmanay fireball ceremony when locals march down the high street swinging fireballs. It is also the birthplace of inventor Robert Thomson and without Thomson’s invention I and countless others would probably not have been able to visit the town of his birth. Thomson you see invented the pneumatic tyre.
I booked into the local caravan park for two nights with the plan of arriving and setting up on day one and then on day two walking along the hill tops to the castle and to be honest it worked out well. It took me a while to work out what went where in terms of water, gas etc but soon I was all setup and ready for an evening of relaxation.
The next day was a lovely sunny day, if a bit cold but it was a fine morning for a walk so off I went along the seafront heading towards the hills and Dunnottar Castle some 3 miles away. The local council have spent a fair bit of money laying down a path along the shingle beach. The local community and community organisations have also worked hard to enhance the path with artworks commemorating events in the towns history. Events such as the Norwegians who escaped the Nazis during World War Two in a seaplane which touchdown in Stonehaven Bay.
The walk ends at the town’s harbour and from here you meander through the former fishermen’s cottages and up a very steep hill till you get to Bervie Braes. Once you reach the top of the braes a sign directs you towards, what looks like a Greek temple standing proudly on the summit of the hill but in actual fact it is the town’s war memorial.
I decided I’d forgo visiting the memorial for now but would do so on my return. The path to the castle was busy and Iooking ahead I could see the outline of the castle.
On approach to the castle I could see there was a steep descent followed by a steep incline to the castle entrance. Fortunately someone had the foresight to install steps I reckon there are around 200 steps down the 160 feet to beach before rising up into the castle. Once inside you can see that this must have been a fantastic building in its day. Although it is mostly in ruins it is very easy to imagine how it looked in its heyday. It is also easy to see why the castle was almost impregnable.
Work first started on the castle in the 13 century and for the next 400 years it was added to, demolished and rebuilt by the various owners.
It has played an important role in Scottish history, when it was taken by the English Army in 1297 William Wallace and his men attacked and recaptured it.
Like many other castles and palaces in Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Dunnottar in 1562 and liked it that much that she returned two years later. The castle’s main claim to fame is that in 1651 during the war between Scotland, England and Ireland the Honours of Scotland, the Scottish Crown Jewels, were moved from Scone Palace to Dunnottar for safe keeping. Cromwell’s army had already melted down the English Crown Jewels and was determined to do the same to the Scottish ones. Cromwell demanded the Honours be handed over but this was refused and so began a blockade of the castle. It is said the the Honours were smuggled out of the castle by the local minister’s wife, Christian Fletcher, who along with her husband buried them under the floor of the kirk until they could be safely handed back.
After visiting the castle I made my way back to Stonehaven and stopped at the impressive war memorial I had seen on my way to Dunnottar Castle. Designed by local architect John Ellis the monument stand atop of Black Hill and can be seen for miles around. The names of the dead are inscribed on the central column and later the names of the dead from World War II were engraved around the sides.
I then headed down Bervie Braes back into the town and headed for the town centre where I came upon, what must be the best street name in the whole town, Love Lane.