Saturday, 15 January 2011

Inverbervie & Benholm Circuit

14th January 2011

There was a fair bit of discussion in the run up to this walk. After my experiences in Glen Tanner last week I was reluctant to risk going inland to find that it was still as treacherous under foot, however, even though the snow has all gone from along the coast, the weather forecast was threatening mist and rain. In the end we decided on sticking to the coast and hoped that the forecast wouldn't be as bad as they threatened. We had done this walk in the summer of last year on a beautiful day and, although the weather when we set off looked overcast, it would turn out to be a pleasant stroll.

We set of from the car park close to the Inverbervie sports centre at about 10 o'clock and our route was south along the old railway line towards Gourdon. On the right just after the start on the top of some low cliffs is the site of the 14th century Hallgreen Castle. There's little to see that would confirm that it ever existed apart from what looks like an old bridge set up on the cliff.

Hallgreen Castle ruins (?)

Further along from this there are more buildings but they look much later than the 14th century, (although I'm not sure what a 14th century building might look like). The weather was holding up nicely as we made our way towards Gourdon although it looked nicer back towards Inverbervie than it did towards Gourdon.

Looking back to Inverebervie

The path at this stage is flat and well maintained although there were some spectacular puddles and some very boggy patches. Still it was a lot better than the adventure on the ice last week. Inverbervie and Gourdon are very close to each other and I'm pretty sure that in days to come they will meet somewhere in the middle. According to the guide book we were to pass the buildings that had housed Britain's last working flax spinning mill which had closed in 1997.

Old flax spinning mill

There was no indication on the buildings to tell what they had been but the yellow sign on one of the doors read "DANGER beware of falling bales - SHOUT before entering" so to me that was enough evidence! From there the route wove its way through the village until we came to the harbour. No doubt in the past this would have been a busy place but I believe that it's mainly shellfish that's landed here now, although there is a smokehouse and what looks like a fish processing business complete with shop. We stopped to take photographs and it looked to my untrained eye that there were two harbours with an older one on the right and the more modern one on the left, (looking at them with the sea at your back).

Gourdon Harbour

From here the route picks up the Scottish Coastal Path network again, but continues to run parallel with the old railway line. I'm not sure why there are two paths because the old railway line looks perfectly passable as well, but maybe there's politics involved somewhere! The next half hour or so with fields on our right and the rocky shoreline on our left was a bit monotonous but we stopped for a cup of coffee and a chocolate biscuit, which is never a bad thing!

Looking South

After another fifteen minutes or so we came to half a dozen cottages - Haughs of Benholm - where we turn away from the seaside and head inland and up towards the main road to Montrose. The cottages looked great although we were a little bit concerned about quite how close they were to the shoreline. There must be a few wild days and nights where the sea seems a little too close for comfort. The one thing worth photographing at the cottages was this great old fashioned gypsy caravan. I wonder what its history is.

Gypsy Caravan

Once across the Montrose road we headed up towards Benholm Mill which is the last working water mill in Kincardine. There's been a mill on the site for at least 500 years and was in use until 1982. It has since been restored and is now a visitor attraction complete with waterwheel, museum, shop and tearoom. Well worth a visit! The last time we did this walk it was on a Sunday and the site was closed but this time it was open and the tearoom proved too tempting, (I recommend the apple cake).


Mill Dam

From the mill the route goes on along the road for half a mile or so to the bridge over the river where we were to turn right. However the woman who runs the tearoom suggested that we crossed the river into the village of Benholm and visit the historical church. She also said that it was usually open to visitors and that it was well worth a look. We were a bit uncertain about what a historical church was but decided that it was worth  a look and, as it turned out, it was very interesting.

Benholm's historical church

Benholm's historical church

If I'm being honest I'd never heard of the church but apparently it became redundant in 2003 when the parishes of Bervie, Johnshaven, Benholm and St Cyrus were combined. If you want to read a bit more about its history try this link - Benholm Church - Anyway we had a good look round, including a seat in the pews reserved for the original gentry of the district, then a stroll around the graveyard and some more photos before rejoining our route. Back across the bridge we headed up a farm track that was once the old coach road some 200 years ago. It's a long pull up the hill, (known locally as the Lang Rig), but it's fairly easy walking on good track. The views back over our shoulder, (to the South), back along the coast to Red Head some 16 miles away were good topped with a great sky.

South to Red Head

You may recall in my post on the Boswell Tower walk that had been annoyed with myself for not taking an O&S map with me, fortunately I remembered to take one this time. On the walk up the Lang Rig the map suggested two things of interest. The first was a fort but, as might be expected, there was no sign of anything recognisable. On the upside the second thing, called "Long Cairn" was, rather surprisingly, where the map said it was. On the downside it wasn't much to see, just a long mound of grass covered stones, but at least it was there.

Long Cairn

From Long Cairn it's an easy walk back down to Inverbervie and back across the Montrose road at the wonderfully named Sillyflatt farm. From here we continued straight through the town past the world famous Bervie Chipper - it was closed so no need to fight off temptation - to get to the memorial to Hurcules Linton designer of the Cutty Sark, currently parked up at Greenwich, and Inverbervie's most famous son. The memorial itself is a full-scale replica of the ship's figurehead that was carved from his original drawings. It depicts a comely young witch from Rabbie Burns' poem Tam O'Shanter grasping the tail of Tam's grey mare.


The plaque also said that he was buried in Bervie kirkyard and since it was on the way back to the car we thought we'd stop in past and see if we could find it. Needless to say we assumed something grand, so looked at the the tall granite ones and the beautifully carved ones but to no avail. As it turned out I almost tripped over it and it turned out to be a simple unobstrusive granite headstone.

Hercules Linton's headstone

From here it was an easy walk back to the car. All in all a fine walk albeit we cheated a little by stopping for tea and cake! Does that count as cheating??


More Photos 

1 comment:

  1. Hercules Linton is my grt grt grt grt Grandfather. Thanks for this.

    Nick Garrett