DUNNOTTAR CASTLE & FALLS OF FEUGH
About 10 miles south of Aberdeen, outside the fishing town of Stonehaven lies Dunnottar Castle, one of Scotland’s most impressive ruins. A romantic, evocative and historically significant castle, Dunnottar is perched on a giant rock on the edge of the North-Sea. Everyone from Vikings to English parliamentary armies have attempted to take it at various times in history.
A steep narrow paths winds it’s way through the precipitous cliff faces that defend Dunnattor Castle, Aberdeenshire’s very own Machu Picchu
The site for Dunnottar was well selected, an impregnable fortress that makes excellent use of the landscape to help defend it, and which holds many rich secrets of Scotland’s colourful past. William Wallace, (Braveheart) Mary Queen of Scots, and the then future King Charles II have graced the Castle with their presence.
At the culmination of the English Civil War and execution of Charles I, Scotland maintained its royalist loyalty. In 1651 Charles’ son, (the future Charles II) was crowned King of Scotland at Scone using the Scottish crown jewels; ‘the Honours of Scotland’. With English parliamentary forces in Lothian, the ‘honours’ couldn’t be returned to Edinburgh as they’d be broken up. A decision was taken instead to secure them at Dunnottar. On hearing of this the English moved against the castle. The Scottish refused to surrender and for eight months a small garrison resisted the might of Oliver Cromwell’s army. Eventually the ‘honours’ were smuggled out of the castle and hidden. With the English assembling artillery, and with the honours no longer inside, the castle was surrendered to English fury on discovery that they were no longer there. The ‘Honours of Scotland’ had been saved.
Falls of Feugh
Lunch beckons and we head inland slightly to the picturesque Falls of Feugh, a short walk from Banchory centre. The stonebuilt Bridge of Feugh spans the river which is popular with visitors who watch salmon climb the natural leap as they make their way up the Falls during spawning season. The Falls of Feugh Tearooms is just a short walk across the bridge.
After lunch you have a little bit of a choice. You might elect to return to Aberdeen (15 miles away) or you could stop in at Crathes Castle en-route. The castle was built in the second half of the 16th century, and is a superb example of the period with its towers, turrets, gardens, and of course, stories of its resident ghosts. Some of the rooms still retain their original painted ceilings and collections of family portraits and furniture. Crathes wouldn’t be one of Scotland’s more celebrated castles but it’s something of a hidden gem that can easily justify the experience as a part of this low intensity and relaxing little Aberdeenshire circuit.
The Falls of Feugh (left) makes for a delightful lunch spot. Crathes Castle (right) is a gentle afternoon