Ice and snow were still keeping us away from the hills on Monday, January 17, so we went to Lunan Bay where there was a hazy sun with no horizon since the sea had blended with the sky, which is usually a sign of good weather.
The car park is at OS ref 691516 on Landranger sheet 54. To avoid paddling through Lunan Water, it is necessary to walk back to Lunan village and cross the river by the road bridge.
About 100 metres beyond the bridge a foot path goes up to the Red Castle. This was our first climb of 2011. All seventy five feet of it!
From the castle we descended to a path behind the dunes, passing a Second World War pillbox with gun ports covering the estuary of Lunan Water.
I noticed that the pillbox was made of brick when most were made of concrete.
Students of the Second World War tell me that it is a Type 27 pillbox and was one of four along the dunes behind Lunan Bay beach.
The defence forces were concerned that the enemy might try to land aircraft on the beach at low tide so it was heavily defended. That is a measure of what a beautiful long beach it is.
After about a mile the path brought us to the beach where the tide was high.
We had coffee among the tank traps at Corbie Knowe, where some of the concrete blocks have been moved to form walls for the gardens of the chalets that are used as summer cottages.
From Corbie Knowe we had the second climb of 2011. This time nearly 100 feet to the top of cliffs where the path is very close to the edge.
We lost that 100 feet descending into Ethie Haven where we sat on a wall to eat lunch.
One of the houses has an heraldic shield with the motto “Tache sans Tache”, which was the motto of one of the Carnegie families who occupied Ethie Castle. The motto means “Without blemish”.
Ethie Castle appears on John Ainslie’s map of 1794 as belonging to the Earl of North Esk.
On that map there are no roads to Ethie Haven so it must have been an outport accessible only from the sea.
As we walked back along the cliff top and the beach, the sun was behind us and the the tide had gone out a little so we had an excellent view of the beach with the Red Castle in the distance.
Underfoot, the sand was firm so it was a real possibility that aircraft or gliders could have landed on it. Sometime during the last 65 years, the sea undermined three of the four pillboxes and buried them.
A walk in Glen Moy had been suggested for Monday, January 24, but the leader reported that ice and snow would still make it slow going, or even dangerous for those of a certain age!
So we drove to Hillside and parked at 708611 (OS Landranger sheet 45). We walked along the pavement of the A937, under the railway bridge, to a gap in the wall at 712606 and this lead us to the Charleton Fruit Farm where the Roadender picks berries in high summer.
Along the approach road to the A92, which we crossed into the Charleton and Kinnaber Links, a track took us past Kinnaber Farm to Fisherhills, on the bank of the River North Esk, where we had coffee with excellent chocolate cookies made by one of our number.
Very often one of us offers home made tablet,shortbread or clootie dumpling.
It is not only the ladies who do such baking. Some men follow the precedent set by the soldiers of the Ordnance Survey at the end of the 1815 surveying season in Scotland.
The commanding officer gave his map makers permission to prepare a farewell feast. The chief dish was an enormous plum pudding consisting of one pound each of raisins, currents, suet and flour.
Those quantities were multiplied by the number of months in camp (4) and the result was a pudding of nearly a hundred pounds weight (45 Kilograms).
Some breadths of canvas tent lining were converted into a pudding cloth (clootie) and a large brewing copper was borrowed to boil it in, the pudding suspended by a cord to prevent its burning. It was kept boiling for four and twenty hours, a relief of men being appointed to watch the fire and maintain the water level.
All the map makers and their assistants partook of the pudding which was excellent.
Now that was some clootie dumpling! Who says men can’t cook?
So savouring the man-baked chocolate-chip cookies we walked along the bank of the River North Esk to the railway viaduct no longer in use and the road bridge which carries the A92 over the North Esk. That beautiful bridge is shown as ‘The New Bridge’ on Ainslie’s map of 1794. Think, that was before the American War of Independence and 18 years before the Battle of Waterloo!
It still has no weight restriction and takes 18-wheel articulated lorries.
We crossed a steel structure which controls the water flow in a lade (mill race) but there is no sign of a mill.
We walked on with the Hillside Maltings visible on our right and came to the Kinnaber Water Pumping Station which had been the mill until 1911.
In 1914 a turbine was installed at the back of the pumping station and this drove an electric generator or alternator. That was the state of the art in 1914. This writer lived in a house with no electricity in 1939!
We climbed the hill that creates the head of water to drive the turbine. That took us to the grounds of Sunnyside Hospital.
Part way up we cross the point where the old west coast railway joined the east coast main line at Kinnaber Junction. The Caledonian Railway and the North British Railway had to share the track to Aberdeen from that point.
The buildings of Sunnyside Hospital are very elegant but the new building from 1897 is all boarded up. The original building from 1857 is still used as offices and there is a still a kitchen in use somewhere in the complex. What is very impressive are the extensive grounds and the views out over the North Sea and the Montrose Basin.
Leaving the grounds of Sunnyside, we came to a public park called The Rosemount Estate at OS ref 702616. This was the grounds of an 18 century mansion shown on Ainlie’s map as Rosebank house belonging to a M. Duncan.
Mr Duncan planted some trees: Wellingtonia (sequoia), copper beeches, walnut, cedar and yews as well as many rhodedendrons.
We enjoyed our visit and it must be very beautiful in June.