Saturday, 8 January 2011

Coastal Path and Boswell's Tower

Friday 7th January:

So the first free day of my new working week has just been and gone and, as per our agreement we went walking. There was some discussion earlier in the week about where we were going and in the end that since the weather forecast was at best uncertain we decided to walk from home. As it turned out the weather was beautiful, if very cold.

We set off at 09.15 and took the road to Downies before picking up the waymarked Scottish Coastal Path route.

Coastal path looking North
back towards Downies

We followed this towards Newtonhill until we came to a great sign on the path.

I defy you not to go!

So always open to a challenge of course we set off down through the field to find these dangerous cliffs. The path itself was actually along the edge of the field and this might cause a problem if you're walking the route in the summer. There is a path on the other side of the fence that runs along the cliff edge but we decided that because there was still a bit of frost on the ground that we were safer staying in the field.The cliffs themselves are quite impressive and I'm sure there a lot of locals who don't know they exist.

 Looking north

Looking south

We followed the path around the cliff edge heading steadily down until we arrived at Newtonhill bay and harbour.

Newtonhill bay & harbour

From the harbour we had a choice. We could continue up into Newtonhill and cross the A90 at the Tesco flyover or follow the road up from the harbour and cross the A90 at Cammachmore. In the end we went to Cammachmore and risked life and limb to cross the road. Anyway once safely over we continued up into Cammachmore past Cammies Restaurant and turned left towards the "Lairhillock Road". We had a discussion over the number of houses and cottages with "chapel" in their name and wondered what the connection might be. It was only after I checked the O&S map when we got home, (I really should take one with me every time even if I do know the route!), that I realised that there had indeed been a chapel on the site, now marked on the map as "remains of". Once we reached the junction we turned left and followed the road for about quarter of a mile before turning right at a signpost for Wedderhill Farm. Past the second lot of Wedderhill cottages you pass through a grove (?) of Rhododendrons that line either side of the road and look as if they could get completely out of control if they were let to their own devices! Once through this the view opens up and you get a good view of Bennachie.


Looking at the map as I write this we also passed "Hut Circles", whether there is anything to see is probably debateable but it would've been nice to have a go at looking for them. NOTE to self - TAKE A MAP WITH YOU!!
At the T junction we turned right and followed the road for about half a mile before turning right again towards Swellhead Farm. Once past the farm we were able to see Boswell Tower. Although we've been in Portlethen for 16 years I'd never made the effort to find a way up to the tower because there is no obvious route up from the road. However we decided that today was the time to go for it so once we were passed the last of the cultivated fields we climbed a gate into what looked like moorland. There appeared to be a trackway so we followed it until it disappeared into the heather so from there we made a straight course towards the tower.

Boswell Tower from the South

The walking was pretty rough over the heather and would have been a lot worse if the ground hadn't been frozen. We were hoping that when we finally got there we would be able to pick out the route we should have taken because the thought of retracing our steps wasn't very appealing. After about fifteen minutes of difficult walking we reached the base of the tower. Although now looking a little worse for wear it must, at one time, have been a nice spot. The tower itself is sited on a built up area and surrounded with what was once a decorative stone wall. The tower as is the tradition in Aberdeenshire is granite built and as is always the case in with granite is probably as good looking now as when it was put together in MDCCCLXII according to the plaque, (which is 1862 I believe, but I'm open to correction). The tower was built by Lady Boswel in memory of her husband who, after a successful military career, became a gentleman farmer in the area and is remembered for the introduction of modern farming methods to the area.

Boswell Tower looking north

As we had hoped it became obvious that there had at one time been an avenue up to the tower through yet more rhododendrons. However as you might expect they had completely overgrown the path so, after choosing the east side and getting blocked off by gorse bushes, we walked down the west side, climbed a fence, made our way through an empty field and finally climbed a gate back onto the road we had left earlier, maybe half a mile nearer Portlethen. Our walk home from here was pretty uneventful and we were back in the house with our boots off by half past three.

All in all it was a successful first walk and if we can do something similar in the coming weeks then I'll be delighted.


1 comment: