The perfect walk to stimulate the senses and blow away the cobwebs, combining a sweeping bay, one of the most picturesque harbours in Scotland, and a breath-taking cliff-top path, with the historical curiosities associated with the Auld Toon of Stonehaven and Cowie Village.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Bus and rail services to Stonehaven. Parking at the harbour in Stonehaven, or on-street nearby.
Length: 8.180 km / 5.11 mi
Height Gain: 172 meter
Height Loss: 172 meter
Max Height: 46 meter
Min Height: 1 meter
Surface: Moderate. Mostly smooth paths or paved surfaces. Section at Cowie cliffs before Waypoint 2 may be muddy.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes. On lead in built-up areas and public roads.
Refreshments: A number of options at Stonehaven harbour and elsewhere in the town.
This is a very varied walk around and about the coastal town of Stonehaven, sampling its distinctive character and charm. Nestling around a large crescent-shaped bay, the town sits in a sheltered amphitheatre with the quirky Auld Toon close by the impressive and picturesque harbour. A breakwater was first built here in the 16thC and the harbour-side Tolbooth, now a museum, was converted from an earlier grain store in about 1600. The old town lying behind it is full of character and interest. The Ship Inn was built in 1771, predating the unusually-towered Town House which was built in 1790. The walk sets out along the wide bay, passing the once separate fishing village of Cowie. Until the 16thC, Cowie was the more important of the two settlements. Leaving the shore-side, the route then ascends on a narrow path to the cliff-tops where there are marvellous views back to the bay and town, with the craggy ruins of Dunnottar Castle just visible. Blink and you miss it – only a small section of the masonry of Cowie Castle survives today as you pass it on the coastal path. Cowie Castle is thought to have been the site of a royal hunting lodge and staging post for itinerant Royals in the Middle Ages. Soon you arrive at the evocative ruins of a 13thC chapel, dedicated to St Mary, and known locally as St Mary of the Storms. The fascinating circular churchyard traditionally marks the site where a chapel was established by the Scottish saint Nachlan, in the 7th century. Returning to the town, the route enters the expansive green space of Mineralwell Park with its pleasant riverside walk, railway viaduct, and old fountain. Nearer to the town centre, a visit is included to the intriguing Robert Burns Memorial Garden on the way to the historic market square, before finally ascending Bervie Braes for a memorable view of the harbour, old town, and bay.