During the months of November and December, when the daylight only lasts four to five, hours we tend to walk within a 15-mile radius from Laurencekirk.
So our latest walk was at Stonehaven on a rather dull day with no sunshine and strong blustery winds - not the best conditions for a fine stroll, but it’s all part of our walking programme and if you are well protected against the elements it can be quite enjoyable.
From the Leisure Centre beside the Outdoor Swimming Pool, the main group of about 20 set off along a rather dishevelled board walk where the seas have created havoc recently, to the harbour, through the Old Town and up on to the Bervie Braes and keeping to the road (the old A92) to the car park for the castle visitors near the farm of Mains of Dunnottar.
Down towards the castle, then a left turn led to a winding footpath round the cliff tops back to the War Memorial on the Black Hill, stopping for their lunch along the way.
On the Bervie Braes they met in with the slower walkers of the group who had been around Stonehaven.
Another group of walkers appeared; they were from Aberdeen and were mostly oil company retired staff who walk regularly.
The second group decided to go over the Cowie Bridge at the outset, and into the Mineralwell Park, following the river up to the railway viaduct, passing the site of the old Ury Distillery, now built over with modern houses.
A path passed the memorial well then it was up the hill to the Mackie Academy playing fields and on to the Slug Road.
Turning back towards the town we passed the former Heugh Hotel, then up Princess Street to the old Mackie Academy, down the Beefy Castle Brae and then to Carron Street.
Cutting through lanes we came out - crossing the Carron Burn- on to the Dunnottar Woods.
From here we then walked past the old net factory – now the Invercarron Centre – and up the old A94 road before turning left to Braehead and over the hill to Bogartyhead farm, where an old concrete sheep dip facility can still be seen alongside the road.
We stopped for lunch on the Bervie Braes and then back via Victoria Street and the Old Town. There is a lot of history here, and plaques on various buildings inform the visitor about the history and the occupants who lived there.
We also completed our walk by the board walk where a young seal was seen earlier. Our wildlife consisted of a despondent looking heron sitting by the Cowie river bank, and some interesting wagtails on the Carron Burn on Low Wood Road.
Our next – and last walk for 2014 – will be starting from the Burgh Buildings in Laurencekirk to walk around the nearby Denlethen Woods area.
Looking towards the castle.
Dunottar Castle from a distance.
Looking down at Stonehaven Harbour.