Roger Smith has written an excellent “Essential Guide to Finishing Points” for the TGO Challenge but to slightly misquote Alice in Wonderland: “what is use is a book that has no pictures”. As I’ve visited lots of the places on his list as I’ve wandered up and down the east coast, I thought I’d write a pictorial guide.
The first two parts focused on places between Aberdeen and Cowie, to the north of Stonehaven (Part 1) and then on Stonehaven and Dunnotar. In this post, I’ve included some pics of places between Crawton, just south of Dunnotar, and Nether Warbuton, near Montrose.
There’s a cliff path from Dunnotar to Crawton through the bird reserve. Not much at Crawton itself but great views to the south. You need to walk back to the main road to get the bus.
Catterline is the next village down the coast. The village itself is now a commuter village at the top of the cliffs with a sharp drop to the sea. It has a good pub (the Creel Inn) that specialises in fish dishes but I don’t think there’s a shop. The food in the Creel is very good but I find the bar a bit dark. Unfortunately there’s no outside seating with sea views.
It’s a short walk down to the beach. For geology buffs, Catterline has some of the best examples of conglomerate rock I’ve ever seen.
I went to Kinneff specially before I wrote this. Roger says ‘no easy access’. This is an understatement – I couldn’t find any way down although I have to admit I didn’t spend too long trying. As Roger says, the church is perhaps the most interesting feature of Kinneff.
Inverbervie is the largest town between Stonehaven and Montrose with a full range of shops. It was a fishing village but I don’t think there’s any fishing there now. But there’s still the old boat winches on the beach.
I’ve been there a couple of times but my view is jaundiced by the fact that when we went there on a cold Sunday afternoon after walking along the coast, nothing was open. So I can’t say anything about my eating and drinking experiences. The Bervie Chipper, as Roger says, has won awards but rumour has it that it has gone downhill recently.
Gourdon is still a working fishing village with a few fishing boats in the harbour. The Harbour Bar is a good pub and the Hornblower is an outstanding fish and chip shop (with a posher but very reasonably priced fish restaurant upstairs – see my review). Rumour has it that the current owners are relocating to a site in Aberdeen but in October 2015, it’s still going strong.
Johnshaven is a large village just south of Gourdon. It’s a bit more developed than some of the other possible finishing places but has a very attractive, working harbour.
Like Gourdon, it’s still a working fishing village although I suspect that most residents are commuters, south to Montrose or north to Aberdeen. There’s a pub (the Anchor Hotel), a shop and you can get the bus outside the pub to Montrose.
Lobster soup from the Anchor Hotel in Johnshaven
I strongly recommend planning your arrival in Johnshaven for lunchtime and then going to the Anchor Hotel. It’s a great wee bar with friendly owners and excellent food. The lobster soup is simply the best fish soup that I’ve ever had.
Tangle Ha’ is a great name but I think it is a rather unprepossessing place. Stony beach, dull harbour and no cliffs.
St Cyrus is perhaps the most popular Challenge finishing place and rightly so. The views from the cliffs are absolutely superb and Wednesday and Thursday sees lots of people on the beach taking pictures of each other.
The beach stretches to the River North Esk and you can walk along to Nether Warbuton (and probably to Montrose but I’m not sure about that – you need to cross the river).
There’s an excellent coffee shop on the way to the beach and a pub across the road which I haven’t been in. Advice from an experience Challenger was that if there are 3 or 4 of you, it’s not much more expensive to take a taxi to Montrose rather than wait for the bus.
I’m not sure that Nether Warbuton is really that different from St Cyrus – basically, it’s just along the beach but it does not require a traipse down the cliffs. There’s a visitor centre for the nature reserve there and a junkyard which has the biggest collection of absolute crap that I have ever seen (my daughter loves going there). It’s a nice beach.
Nowhere to eat but if you go back to the bridge over the River North Esk then walk a bit down the road towards Montrose, the Charleton Fruit Farm has a cafe that does very good and reasonable meals.
Kinnebar Links are on the south side of the River North Esk – I’ve never been there but some people finish there. You can see it on the St Cyrus picture – the bit across the river.
I haven’t really ventured much south of Montrose so I can’t illustrate these places yet. If I get the chance in the next few months, I’ll try and get there. Lunan Bay is a fabulous beach.
North of Aberdeen, Balmedie has fabulous sand dunes and Collieston is a lovely village. Again, I don’t have so many pictures but I might manage some coastal walking there over the winter.