Angus

Reekie Linn Falls, Angus
Falls of Reekie, Angus Glens

 

Angus is the area north of Dundee, stretching up towards Aberdeen. There are the coastal towns of Carnoustie, Arbroath and Montrose and the inland the main towns are Forfar, Brechin and Kirriemuir. However I wouldn't spend too much time in the towns, it's the diverse countryside on which you should concentrate. The main East Coast railway line runs north from Dundee through Carmoustie, Arbroath and Montrose. If you want to fully explore the region car hire is advisable. The dual carriageway from Dundee to Aberdeen runs through Angus bypassing Forfar and Brechin. Angus has variety of landscapes and terrain stretching from the coast in the east to the start of the Cairngorm Mountains as you head west. You can see dramatic coastal cliffs, monuments, castles, heather clad mountains, rivers, streams and fertile valleys within a 30 mile drive. It is easily accessible from the central belt of Scotland.

 

Carnoustie

Carnoustie Pron
Shell sculptures on Carnousie Promenade

Carnoustie is famous for it's golf course, bookings can be made to play subject to handicap rules. Golf has been played here since the 1500s. The present course was designed in 1850 but after some adjustments in 1937 the course has remained virtually unchanged. The prom has been recently revamped and has many giant sea shell sculptures along the wall.

Barry Mill is a working 18th century meal mill, is located two miles west of Carnoustie. The machinery at Barry Mill is still in working order and the custodian gives you an excellent demonstration and commentary. There is a lovely level walk up to the mill pond and the weir with several picnic benches.

Arbroath


When I think of Arbroath the first thing which springs to mind is the Arbroath Smokie, haddock smoked over hardwood, until coppery gold. The Arbroath Smokie is now protected by EU legislation which states that the fish must be smoked in the traditional manner, within an eight km radius of Arbroath. There was even a tartan launched in 2005 to pay homage to the Smokie. The three mile walk north along the red sandstone cliffs to the village of Auchmthie is a must for me when I visit the town. They are a favourite location for fishermen and rock climbers. There are signs everywhere to be aware of the potential danger. Take them seriously, when my husband was fishing there he had to call a rescue helicopter to come to the aid of an injured rock climber.

Arbroath cliffs
Arbroath Cliffs

Arbroath Abbey founded in 1178 was the site of the Declaration of Arbroath where Scottish nobles swore their independence from England.

 


Arbroath Abbey


The Bell Rock Lighthouse is considered to be one of the seven industrial wonders of the world alongside projects such as the Panama Canal. The rocks eleven miles from Arbroath, often submerged beneath the sea, had caused many shipwrecks over the years. However it was an feat of engineering to construct the lighthouse on these rocks when work could only take place during low tide. The lighthouse is often referred to as Stevenson's lighthouse, after the Scottish engineer credited with its design and construction. The lighthouse, automated since the 1950s has required no repairs since its opening in 1811. The building which is now theThe Signal Tower Museum was built in 1813 and used until 1955 as living accommodation for the families of the Bell Rock Lighthouse keepers.


Weather permitting, there is nothing better than sitting eating your fish and chips from "Marco's on the Shore" fish and chip shop with the harbour view. The fish is good quality, it's a large portion of one and a half fillets and it's freshly cooked to order.


Arbroath Harbour
Arbroath harbour

Montrose

Montrose is built on an estuarial peninsula bordered to the east by the sea and to the west by River South Esk.The harbour has been used for landing fish, the import and export of timber and wool and more recently in connection with North Sea Oil. I always thought that the High Street was very grand but didn't realise that it is the widest High Street in Scotland.

Montrose Museum and Art Gallery, constructed in 1842 was one of Scotland's first purpose built museums, housing artefacts such as the Marquis of Montrose's 16th century sword and an 18th century Jacobite garter ribbon, worn secretly in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The Montrose Basin Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve is base for exploring the basin all the wildlife that lives there. The Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre is at the 1913 site of the first operational military airfield of the Royal Flying Corps.

The House of Dun was designed by William Adam. It has lovely views over the Montrose Basin There are many tales of the house being haunted and there was a Ghost Club investigation in 2006. You can reach the house of Dun by four mile stretch of the Caledonian Railway.

Dunninald House and Garden is located 2 miles south of Montrose. The present Gothic style house was completed in 1824 but the garden was created in 1740. Dunninald Gardens are open in aid of Scotland's Garden Scheme on Sunday 20 May 2007. The house and gardens are open Thursday 28 June to Sunday 29 July 2007, daily except Mondays.



Bamse statue, Montrose

In October 2006 the statue of Bamse, the heroic canine crew member of the Norwegian Minesweeper, Thorudd, based in Montrose during WW2, was unveiled. He stands proudly, wearing his hat, in Wharf Street by the river.

Forfar

 

Forfar Loch, AngusForfar Loch


It's believed that Fofar has been a settlement since the 4th century when Picts lived by Forfar Loch. Forfar was the market town of the region. There was period of witch hunts in Forfar during the early 1660s, with nine executions.

I spent quite a bit of time in Forfar as a youngster, as my grandfather owned the newsagents, SJ Mutch, on East High Street. The exterior of the shop is unchanged but it is now part of a chain of newsagents.

I like to do the 2 mile circular walk around Forfar Loch when I visit the town. You can see the Balmashanner War Memorial on the hills to the south of Forfar. It was constructed in 1920 in honour of the dead of the First World War.

You may like to sample the local delicacy, the Forfar Bridie, a large horseshoe shaped meat pie.

Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the Queen Mother, lies five miles south west of Forfar. There are various events staged here such as the Annual Grand Scottish Picnic Prom, Highland Games and outdoor performances of plays. Angus Folk Museum of agricultural heritage is also in Glamis.

Six miles north east of Forfar lie the Aberlemno Sculptured Stones.

Kirriemuir


Kirriemuir is called the wee red town, due to many of the buildings being constructed of red sandstone. It's known locally as Kirrie. Kirremuir was a centre for textile manufacture from the 18th to the early 20th century. Most of the production was done by hand in the homes of the workers.


The cottage where JM Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, was born is now owned by the National Trust. Barrie's mother was a weaver. My great Grandmother lived in Barrie's birthplace until the early 1960s when it was taken over the National Trust. One room in the cottage has been furnished with items from Barrie's London flat. Outside in the wash house you can see where Barrie's first plays were performed. There is a garden with a statue of Peter Pan and bush trained to grow like a giant crocodile. Barrie could have been buried in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey but prefered the graveyard in Kirrie. I don't blame him as the graveyard is in a lovely south facing location with views over to the Sidlaw hills.

 


Peter Pan. Barrie's Birthplace, Kirriemuir
Peter Pan Statue, Barries Birthplace

Camera Obscura was gifted to the town by JM Barrie and affords extensive views over the surrounding area. The Canera Obscura was neglected for many years and reopened in 1999. It is amazing to see the 360 degree panoramic views reflected on to white wooden concave table in the octagonal viewing room. I felt as though I was looking at a retouched picture postcard until I saw the image of a car or person passing by. I was lucky to visit on a sunny bright day and you could see mountains up to sixty miles away. The building also coupled as a cricket pavilion as Barrie was a great fan of the sport.

Camera Obscura, Kirriemuir
Camera Obscura, Kirriemuir

The Aviation Museum, tel 01575 573235, housing the private collection of a Second World War veteran opened in the town in the 1980s.


Sir Hugh Munro, who in 1891 published the list of Scottish mountains higher than 3000 feet, know as Munros, lived in the Lindertis estate close to Kirrie.


The Gateway to the Glens Museum in the town evokes the unique atmosphere of the town. It also introduces you to the nearby five Angus Glens,which spread out like the fingers of a hand. My grandparents had a holiday chalet in Glen Prosen, next to the River Prosen. We were able to swim at some stretches where the water is deeper and used the cool water to refrigerate our drinks. One day when I was out walking with my aunt, we observed smoke as we descended the hill, by the time we reached the wooden chalet it had been razed to the ground. My younger brother was most upset, he was due to start primary school soon and his lovely new leather school bag, a gift from his grandparents, had been consumed by the fire.


At the south of Glen Prosen is Burn Cottage, where Captain Scott of Antartica planned his forthcoming expedition with Dr Wilson. JM Barrie and Captain Scott where friends. You can read a copy of the letter written to Barrie by Scott during the final days of the ill fated expedition at Barrie's Birthplace.

The turreted Airlie Monument is quite a landmark in the area, constructed to commemorate the death of 9th Earl of Airlie in the Boer War in 1900.

Brechin

It's easy just to drive past Brechin as you drive up the dual carriageway towards Aberdeen. Brechin Cathedral as one of the two remaining Irish style round towers, dating from the late 11th century, remaining in Scotland. I've never seen a round tower in Scotland before and it's strange to see the newer traditional steeple alongside the tower.

The Auld Brig over the River Esk is one of the oldest stone bridges in Scotland.

 


Brechin Museum has exhibits such as 18th century bagpipes and a sporran thought to have been worn during the Battle of Culloden.


Edzell Castle and Gardens is located a few miles north west of Brechin.Much of the castle is ruined but the red sandstone is very beautiful. For me the garden is the main attraction. It was constructed in 1604, you can still see the coat of arms and the date above the entrance to the gardens. The garden walls are truly amazing with sculptures depicting virtues such as patience, constance and prudence as well as Roman Gods. The Summer House at one corner of the garden is still intact; this is where the family would retire after meals to eat sweetmeats at the round stone table.
Pictavia tells the story of the ancient Pictish tribes who lived in Angus 2000 years ago. It is set in a countryside park.


Edzell Castle
Edzell Castle


The Northern Hotel in Brechin may not look too inspiring from the exterior. However I recommend this hotel as a good mix of quality and value for money. The interior of 18th century coaching inn was totally renovated a couple of years ago. The bedrooms are very tastefully decorated in neutral tones. I stayed at the hotel in April 2006 and it cost £50 for a double room. The breakfast was very good. Smokie served with bacon and eggs is on the breakfast menu and well worth ordering. Brechin is a good central location from which to visit Angus. You could drive east to the coast one day and west to Kirrie and the Glens another day. Dundee or Aberdeen can be reached in under one hour by car. Northern Hotel, Brechin
Northern Hotel, Brechin