Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Bullers of Buchan from Slains Castle

Sunday 5th June

After a couple of weeks off we finally managed to get a descent walk in, albeit on a Sunday rather than a Friday! We were out on Thursday night then moved over to Cruden Bay to dog and chicken sit for the rest of the weekend. This meant of course that by walking the dogs each day we got plenty of fresh air and exercise but we needed to be careful where we walk them and this is what I find problematical. Anyway after their walk on Sunday morning, (around Slains castle and up onto Goats Hillock ), we decided that, as we were on the north side of the city, it was a good opportunity to take in the Bullers of Buchan. When we first moved over to the east coast from Inverness I must confess we had no idea what the Bullers of Buchan was. In fact the first time we passed the car park we thought it might be a shop! Anyway we've now walked this particular piece of coastline a couple of times. Once from the official car park on the A957 about four miles north of Cruden Bay. The second time we did a loop to the north side of Slains Castle, so this time we decided to link them up and walk from the Slains Castle car park along the coast to the Bullers and carry on north for a while to see what else we could see, (the walk actually goes all the way to Boddam, just south of Peterhead, but we decided that this was just a touch too far for this afternoon).

We set off from the small car park for Slains Castle just north of Cruden Bay. We then ignored the sign for the coastal path to Slains and took the direct track towards the castle.

 Quiet car park

 Towards the castle

Having explored the castle often enough and having written up the castle walk already we stopped short of it and joined the coastal route north at the first of many steep sided bays that give this part of the coast its distinct character, (for the sake of accuracy this one is called "Long Haven"). There is a waymarked post at the start of the path, but it's missing its sign so is less obvious than it might be.

 Who built that wall!!

The path itself is a distinct, well trodden route but it may become a bit overgrown in places at certain times of the year. At this time however there is little to worry about, as long as you remember to watch where you're going and if you're going to look at the thousands, (and I'm not exaggerating), seabirds that have colonised the cliffs then stop and look. Believe me, to try and walk and look at the same time is dangerous! We continued north along this spectacular path until we came to the next couple of bays that cut into cliff side, ("Twa Havens"), before we paused for a look back the way we had come and towards Slains.

 Twa Havens to Slains

The path continues to meander its way along the cliff edge, sometimes within stepping distance of the edge, sometimes more safely 50 yards or so away from the edge. Interestingly when the main path takes the safer route there always seems to be a faint track or two that lead back towards the edge, and as it happens, that's where the better photo opportunities are! Our next goal was the bird infested rock islands of Dunbuy and The Yaud. The number of birds and the noise they made is difficult to describe but it really was quite spectacular. There were a lot of different types of birds, but I'm not knowledgeable to name them all. What I do know is that there were Kittiwakes, Razorbill, Guillemot, Herring Gulls and Shags, (or Cormorants maybe - always difficult to tell from a distance). I'm sure there were other types of gulls but I'm afraid I don't know them well enough.



Dragging ourselves away from the dramas being played out on the cliffs we continued north. I have to say that it was a wrench because it really was the type of thing we could have sat and watched for hours without getting bored! The path continues to make its way north passing yet more bays cut deep into the cliffs with more birds perched on impossible edges and caves that disappear into darkness. The next spectacle comes as we reached the area that gives the area its name. The first point we reached is called "Robie's Haven" and was to give us our real treat of the day. I was busy taking photos of the coast to the north when Mo drew my attention to a couple of birds perched on a cliff around 50 yards or so away. And that was how we came to see our first Puffin in real life! When you consider everything that was going on around us it was a great spot by Mo and one I'm really pleased she made.

 Puffins - fantastic!

 From Robbie's Haven Looking North

From here we made our way down to the small hamlet perched on the cliffs above the Bullers itself. The Bullers is a collapsed cave system, (you can read more about it here ). I'm not too sure about whether or not I'd like to live quite this close to the cliff edge but some of the views and weather conditions you would get would be spectacular.

 The Bullers of Buchan

Officially this should have been the end of our walk for the day, but we decided to carry on a little further because the last time we were here I had managed to get some good photos further up the coast. The path past the Bullers becomes a bit more overgrown and footing would be treacherous in wet weather. Fortunately there was no sign of rain and the weather had been dry all week so with a little care we made our way around to the last "haven" of the day "North Haven".

 North Haven

I guess the only downside of this walk is that the only route back is to retrace your steps. So from here we turned back towards home and got to see all the views from a new perspective! We did of course stop and take more photos of the puffins on the way past!!  Everybody knows that Scotland has spectacular coastlines and cliffs but I wonder sometimes if people realise how close these wonders really are. We had left the car twelve o'clock and arrived back at quarter past three. I'm not suggesting that this is a three hour walk, but we spent a long time watching the birds and taking lots of photos.

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