St Vigeans, on the outskirts of Arbroath, was the starting point for our walk on Tuesday, February 16.
The village looked very quaint, dominated by the Parish Church on a high mound.
The area is popular with walkers, runners and cyclists, as there is a long, fairly straight path along the route of the old Forfar railway line. There are two car-parks in the village, very close together, but separated by the Brothock water. There is a bridge over the burn, but it is no longer used for vehicular traffic.
There were 30 walkers, and we divided into two groups, seven doing the shorter walk and 23 on the longer one. We set off over the bridge and followed the Waulkmill Nature trail (the old railway line). And yes, we did actually see enough wildlife to justify the name “Nature trail”. First, on our right, in a huge puddle (big enough to be a pond!) there were lots of ducks swimming around. Soon after, we passed a house with a waterwheel on the side – most impressive. Near there we spotted a heron, and some of the walkers also saw a wee dipper on the water. I missed that, unfortunately.
Eventually we saw the golf course at Letham Grange, and where there was a break in the dyke and no fence, we climbed over on to the course. A few steps took us onto a proper footpath through the golf course. This led us ultimately to Letham Grange village, where I noticed a robin hopping about. At this point, there were two buzzards circling overhead.
Our lunch break was taken in front of the now empty Letham Grange Hotel. Empty is perhaps not the correct word to use, as the conservatory still has plants in it: most are dead but there was some greenery. Also the dining room still has white tablecloths on the tables just as it did when we were last there, about two years ago! It is so sad to see such a building falling into disrepair. I think there was a dispute over ownership when the hotel closed in 2011; whether that has ever been resolved, I do not know. The grounds, however, are still in very good condition; perhaps they are classed as part of the village.
After lunch we walked round the other side of the hotel and soon came to the start – or end – of the path we had been on. The other group of walkers was there, just finishing their lunch on what would have been part of the station platform. We then made our way back, most of it the way we had come. There were still ducks on the big puddle, and the heron had moved to this side of the Brothock Water.
When we got back to the car-park, we knew we would have a little wait while the smaller group caught up, so some of us followed the trail in the other direction ie towards Arbroath: just a little bit out, then back.
We got the best of the weather that day; it wasn’t a beautiful day but it stayed dry while we were walking and that’s always a good thing! The Arbroath Footpath leaflet suggests that it is 3 miles from St Vigeans to Letham Grange, so we must have done 6miles altogether, with perhaps another mile at the end for those of us who did that extra bit.
Our next walk will be on Tuesday, March 1 in Stonehaven, starting at the Kirkton Garden Centre. As usual, the minibus will leave the Burgh Buildings in Laurencekirk at 10am.