(144) Cairnbulg-Whitelinks Bay-St Combs Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
This is a bracing walk along the windy coastline at the NE corner of Scotland passing through evocative old fishing villages and crossing the wonderful crescent-shaped beach at Whitelinks Bay.

Duration: 2.75 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 2.75 hours.
Transport/Parking: Stagecoach 69 bus service from Fraserburgh. Check timetable. Free parking at walk start/finish, Cairnbulg Harbour.
Length: 8.170 km / 5.11 mi
Height Gain: 60 meter.
Height Loss: 60 meter.
Max Height: 16 meter.
Min Height: 0 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Mostly on paved surfaces. Some walking on good grassy tracks and a section of beach walking.
Difficulty: Easy.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but keep dogs on lead on public roads.
Refreshments: Options in Fraserburgh.

This is an enjoyable circuit along the airy coast between Cairnbulg and St Combs, on the exposed “Knuckle of North East Scotland”, where the coastline turns west from the more exposed North Sea to the increasingly more sheltered Moray Firth. The combined villages of Cairnbulg and Inverallochy (the local Community Council is now called “Invercairn”) have a long association with the fishing industry, although as the nature of fishing operations changed, the locus moved to nearby Fraserburgh. The inadequate nature of the original fisher huts was cruelly exposed in the cholera epidemics of the 1860s and they were cleared to make way for planned settlements centred on Inverallochy and Cairnbulg and, a little further down the coast, at St Combs. This development supported the boom in the herring fisheries, and by the 1880s well over 200 fishing boats operated from these coastal villages. The new villages were set in neat rows, gable end to the sea to minimise the effect of stormy weather. The spaces between the houses were used to shelter the boats dragged up out of the water, and the communities shared the seashore washing lines still in place today. Nowadays the villages have expanded as dormitory satellites for Fraserburgh and the wider Buchan area. The walk starts and ends at West Haven harbour a little west of Cairnbulg. The harbour is no longer used commercially but as ‘Cairnbulg Boathaven’, it provides moorings for leisure craft. As our walking route progresses, the next point of interest is the eye-catching and evocative “Lost At Sea Memorial” representing a fisherman’s wife and child looking out to sea. Next, we arrive at “Maggie’s Hoosie”. This is a community-led project which has restored a traditional fisher’s cottage as a museum representing the life of the fisher-woman who lived there. Soon, the wide crescent-shaped beach backed by sand dunes at Whitelinks Bay opens up before you, with the Inverallochy golf links on the landward side. At the walk turning point in St Combs we visit the remains of the medieval church of St Columba, which was abandoned in 1608.

Photos from walk  
Download Route Guide  (PDF with illustrated Waypoints)
Download GPX file  (GPS Exchange Format)
Access Walk on Viewranger
Access Walk on Outdooractive
Access Walk on Wikiloc

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