Places to finish the Challenge Part 2: Stonehaven and Dunnotar

In my last post, I wrote about places to finish the TGO Challenge between Aberdeen and Stonehaven. In this post, I planned to write about places between Stonehaven and Montrose but there’s a lot of places and a bit to say so I’ve decided to restrict this post to the northernmost bit of this section around Stonehaven.

Part 1: Aberdeen to Stonehaven
Part 3: Crawton to Nether Warbuton

Stonehaven is a small town south of Aberdeen that is a popular finishing point for Challengers. You can get there without too much tarmac pounding by going through the Fetteresso forest, which gets you to 2-3 km from the town. Unfortunately, there’s a big wind farm there now  (33 turbines) which is now fully operational.  The forest is not great for camping and some of the pitches near water are very close to the wind turbines (see this post for a picture)

Stonehaven Bay
Stonehaven Bay

Stonehaven proudly boasts that it is the home of the inventor of the pneumatic tyre (Robert Thomson) but keeps quiet about a more recent invention of a famous Scottish delicacy – the deep-fried Mars Bar.  If you come into the town from Kirktown of Fetteresso through the back streets, you come out near the Carron Fish Bar – birthplace of the deep fried Mars Bar.

The Carron Fish Bar
The Carron Fish Bar

I have only tried this delicacy once. They don’t look too appetising (a deep-fried turd comes to mind) but actually they don’t taste too bad. Soft and chocolately with a crispy coating. I’m not sure I’d want to eat a whole one but if there’s a few of you, you may like to experiment.  Profits from DFMBs are donated to charity.

Mars tried to bully them to take it off the menu. Thankfully, they didn’t succeed.

A deep-fried Mars Bar from the Carron in Stonehaven
A deep-fried Mars Bar from the Carron in Stonehaven

If you want fish and chips, however, best to go to The Bay fish bar at the other end of the promenade. It has won several awards for the quality and sustainability of its fish suppers.

Beer lovers and those with more refined culinary tastes should head for the harbour where there are two excellent restaurants – the Ship (good for Cullen Skink) and the Marine Hotel. The Marine has more unusual food, a great atmosphere and a superb range of beer – both real ale and bottled. They have their own brewery (6 North) so it is worth timing your arrival for a pint. I recommend the Hopocrisy or Wanderlust Wheat.

Stonehaven harbour
Stonehaven harbour

There are good transport links from Stonehaven to Montrose – there’s an hourly bus service and a couple of trains per hour although taking the train means a walk up the hill for about a mile and you may have done enough walking by the time you get there. But make sure you go to the stop near the square to catch the bus – it’s an express bus and doesn’t stop at the one closest to the Marine.

Just to the south of Stonehaven is Dunnotar Castle, another popular Challenge finishing point. I think this is maybe the most dramatic place to end your walk with the ruined castle on a headland with cliffs plunging into the sea. There’s lots about Dunnotar on Wikipedia so I won’t say more here.

Evening sunshine on Dunnotar Castle
Evening sunshine on Dunnotar Castle

As you approach the castle, you can get down to the beach on either side. Ignore the Danger – No Access notices – it isn’t dangerous at all for people who have walked across Scotland.  You can also get down to the beach at the adjacent bay.

Dunnotar Bay
Dunnotar Bay

There’s no cafe at the Castle – there is an ice cream van in summer but I don’t think it’ll be there on a weekday in May. You need to walk back to the main road to catch the bus.

More pics of Stonehaven and Dunnotar

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