This short cliff-top walk is nonetheless a special experience, especially in the late spring and summer seabird breeding season when 130,000 guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars and puffins return from a winter spent at sea to congregate on 60 m high cliffs.
Duration: 1.5 hours.
Duration: 1.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: There is a request bus stop at the start of the access road to Crawton (Stagecoach Stonehaven to Johnshaven route). This will add about 3 km to the route. Check timetables. Free parking at the start/end of walk is limited to 12 spaces. Arrive early!
Length: 3.880 km / 2.43 mi
Height Gain: 151 meter.
Height Loss: 151 meter.
Max Height: 52 meter.
Min Height: 13 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Mostly narrow cliff-top paths. May be muddy after rain, and the long grass falling on to the path can be very wet. After rain, wear waterproof trousers or shorts!
Child Friendly: Yes, but ensure children are closely supervised near cliff edges.
Dog Friendly: Yes, on lead on public roads and near farm animals. Maintain close control near cliff edges.
Refreshments: A variety of options in Stonehaven.
This is a short cliff-top walk that will provide an exhilarating experience at any time of year. During the seabird breeding season, the sights, sounds (and smells) provided by a diverse mass of sea-birds can be intoxicating! Running for around 3 km along the coast, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds manages the Fowlsheugh Reserve as part of a wider Special Protection Area designated for its number of seabirds. The area encompasses two Sites of Special Scientific Interest: the main one, Fowlsheugh SSSI, is a 1.8 km length of sheer 30 to 60-metre cliffs, with a narrow strip of cliff-top grasslands; the second, a section of the cliff at the southern end, is included within Crawton Bay SSSI. The spectacular cliffs at Fowlsheugh are packed with more than 130,000 breeding seabirds during the spring and summer months. These include guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, herring gulls, shags, fulmars and even some puffins. Grey seals and dolphins are sometimes spotted offshore, too. In the summer months the cliff-top grassland is a carpet of wild flowers and billowing grasses, home to linnets, meadow pipets and skylarks. There are a number of useful information boards throughout the route, and there is a small shelter near the end of the main trail which overlooks one of the principal breeding ledges (where the small community of puffins may be spotted). The cliffs are mostly composed of basalt and conglomerates of Old Red Sandstone, which form a rock face characterised by innumerable holes and ledges, providing ideal sites for cliff nesting seabirds. After returning from the main cliff-top section, the final section of the route heads down to the stony beach at Crawton Bay by a cliff-top path, diverting to view the impressive Crawton Burn waterfall along the way. The former fishing community of Crawton is nowadays comprised of just a few premium cottage conversions, the original village having been abandoned in 1927. In its heyday, 30 men fished from 12 boats and the village had its own fish merchant.