Ferryden was the starting point for the latest Mearns 50+ Group walk.
As we drove into the village, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for those house-holders whose homes once looked over the mouth of the Esk but who now look across the road to huge concrete sheds.
We parked at the far end of the village and made our way uphill on to the road to Scurdie Ness Lighthouse. Along the way, we passed the remains of two concrete pillboxes, built to hold machine guns, which would have had a clear line of fire along Montrose beach. An information board close by gives more information.
Further along, and close to the lighthouse is a concrete and stone cairn built to mark the 25th anniversary of The Great Outdoors Challenge cross-Scotland walk. Many of you will remember seeing rucksack-laden walkers on the roads around here every May. At the lighthouse itself is another information board; the walk out to Scurdie Ness, although less than a mile, is packed with interest.
From the lighthouse we passed through a gate into a field and followed a well-worn track to Mains of Usan; there we walked on roads again and past a dam which I am reliably informed is a heronry - and many of us did see a heron there.
The next farm we came to was Seaton of Usan where we were surprised to find a pavement at the edge of the road, but I presume it is there for the village of Usan itself. The older part of the village consists of ruined fisher cottages and a tower; however we did not venture down there, instead turning right past more modern cottages and then across a field again; the first part was easy to follow, the second part less so.
Our target was to reach the small cliff-top graveyard where we stopped for lunch. It was at this point that the rain started! From what I gather, there was very heavy rain in the Laurencekirk area that day, but we really only had a shower.
From the graveyard, we followed a cliff-side path down past the aptly-named Elephant Rock and on to Boddin Point where we could see evidence of old lime kilns now in danger of being undercut by the sea.
Back to some road walking, with great views across to Lunan Bay, and our route now took us over the railway line and up to Dunninald Lodge. Here I’m not sure that our route is open to the general public and I assume we had permission to be there, but it is too beautiful to omit. We walked up what used to be a drive; the woods on either side were carpeted in bluebells and the little bit of rain we’d had just made them sparkle. It was an amazing sight!
Back on a road again, we found ourselves heading back to Ferryden but, instead of going straight down into the village, we took the more scenic route, turning right at the Craig cross-roads and passing the relatively new development at Barns of Craig Steading. Once more we crossed the railway line then turned left at Inchbrayock, past Ferryden Farm and back to the car-park.
Distance covered was about eight miles, and my legs certainly felt as if they’d gone the distance! However it was a walk full of interest and natural beauty. Besides the bluebells we saw more wild flowers than I’ve seen in a long time; the birds were in good voice too.
Not all the walkers want to do such long walks and most of ours have a shorter version. On this occasion, the shorter route started off the same way as ours but headed back to Ferryden from Mains of Usan.
They had an interesting encounter at the lighthouse, though. Apparently a new “Kissing gate” had been put in place the day before our walk by apprentices from Glaxo. On the day of our walk, it was being inspected by the father of one of the lads. He told the group that his father had built the wall at the lighthouse, so it was quite a generational moment for him.
The next walk will be on Tuesday, May 27, at Crathes (parking in the car-park at Milton of Crathes). As usual, the minibus will leave the Burgh Buildings in Laurencekirk at 10am.