“Walking in a Winter Wonderland” might have been a nice title for the latest Mearns 50+ Group walk, but “Tread carefully” or “Mind how you go” are probably more appropriate!
Sixteen of us met at the West Links car-park in Arbroath; the temperature was between zero and minus 1, and the pavements were decidedly slippery.
Our intention was to walk to Arbirlot and back, so we set off across the links – on grass – to the odd double bridge over the railway line. Once over the bridge, we crossed the road to a path sign-posted “Arbirlot”.
The start of this path used to be a railway line which branched off the main line at Elliot Junction and went via Arbirlot to Carmyllie (about 6 and a half miles). It was used to carry slate from the quarries at Carmyllie to the harbour at Arbroath, and further afield via the main railway line. It closed as recently as 1984 and the rails lifted to make way for the footpath.
That Tuesday, however, the footpath looked treacherous and the decision was unanimous that we would not try to go that way. So, it was back across the road and the bridge. We walked south on to Elliot Links but close to the beach, along narrow paths. Mostly we did not walk on these narrow paths, but followed them, walking on the grassy bits at the sides of them. “Watch where you’re going” was definitely the order of the day!
Elliot Links is apparently a place of Special Scientific Interest, but we saw little of interest on the ground that day, other than people out walking their dogs. On our journey to Arbroath, it had been quite foggy around Brechin, but Arbroath was clear. The combination of sky and sea was spectacular in an under-stated way: hazy cloud formations meeting the sea on the horizon; different colours of blue on the water as it neared the coast, then the white of the breaking waves against the light brown of the sand. This can be seen quite clearly in the background of the Lunch-time photo.
On our way back someone with sharper eyes than mine pointed out the Bell Rock Lighthouse in the distance. Did you know that this lighthouse is the oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse in the world? It was built between 1807 and 1810 by Robert Stevenson and the masonry work on which it was built has not had to be replaced since then. Compare this to our modern buildings which need to be replaced after about 20 years or so.
The final part of the walk back took us alongside the play area. Having been there once with my grandchildren, I can assure you it is a great place for young children. The wooden carving of the Mad Hatter at one of the entrances caught my eye on the way past.
Distance covered was about three to three and a half miles. The main achievement of the day was the fact we managed to walk that far in those conditions without any of us falling.
The next walk will be on Tuesday February 3, at St Cyrus Nature Reserve and beach. As usual, the minibus will leave the Burgh Buildings in Laurencekirk at 10am.