Between the Grampian Mountains and the sea - a lovely area with quiet roads.
Kirriemuir has produced many people with musical connections. The best known is the writer and creator of Peter Pan: J.M.Barrie. His house is in Brechin Road, it's maintained by the National Trust (at one point there was a proposal to ship the whole thing to America). The original Wendy House sits behind the main house - watch out when you go in - Hook's enemy, the crocodile that took off his arm, lies in wait for the unwary visitor! The Wendy House was, in reality, a wash house but that didn't stop Barrie from making it into his first theatre. Also born in Kirriemuir was an equally famous person from the world of rock music: Bon Scott. He was the lead singer of rock group AC/DC from 1974 until his death in 1980.
Stonehaven is more known as a tourist town than a fishing port nowadays, however it has a very attractive harbour and a wealth of hotels, pubs, B&Bs and shops. There's a tourist office and a bike shop. The old 16th Century Toolbooth by the harbour is now a museum. At one time it was a prison, then in1748-49 Episcopal ministers lodged inside. They are said to have baptised children through the windows, the museum includes a tea room. Stonehaven has a folk festival in July.
Dunnottar Castle is possibly the most spectacularly situated castle in Scotland - it's on a rock promontory just south of Stonehaven. There has been a castle here since the earliest times. The promontary consists of boulders and pebbles embedded in red rock, this is so strong that cracks pass through the boulders and not around them.
In 1297 William Wallace burned an English garrison which was holding the castle. In the 1560s, Mary Queen of Scots stayed there. In September 1651 Cromwell's army laid siege to Dunnottar Castle. Earlier that year the Crown, Sceptre and Sword of State of Scotland had been moved to Dunnottar for safe keeping. Now under threat of capture the Royal Regalia were smuggled out of the castle by the wives of the garrison commander and parish minister of Kinneff. They were then buried under a stone in front of the pulpit of Old Kinneff Church where they lay for the nine years. At the Restoration in 1660 they were placed in Edinburgh Castle where you can still see them to this day. The Old Church of Kinneff is no longer used for Sunday worship, it's maintained by a preservation trust, the cycle route passes quite near.
Lewis Grassic Gibbon or James Leslie Mitchill, was born in Aberdeenshire but moved to the Howe of the Mearns where he spent his early years in this unique part of the countryside. His upbringing was to be a profound influence on his writings in later life and were epitomised in ?Ç£Sunset Song?Ç¥, the first part of his trilogy about life in the Mearns in the early part of the twentieth century. The Grassic Gibbon Centre was opened in 1992. It's next to to Arbuthnott Parish Hall and is clearly signed. There is an exhibition of the author's writings and possessions plus a cafe serving light meals and refreshments.
This is the final part the Mountains and Lochs long distance route but it includes an interesting circular section which is well worth doing on its own. Here the eastern edge of the Grampian Mountains approach the sea. The route runs past steep sided glens and through rolling country with woods and farms. This is a low rainfall area but easterly winds can bring a sea mist called haar in springtime. The route is described starting from Kirriemuir. For historical information see About the Route.
Kirriemuir is an interesting town full of winding streets and narrow stone-built closes. James Barrie, author of Peter Pan was born here, there's a good choice of places to eat and stay. Leave Kirriemuir cycling north on the B955 following signs for The Glens. Keep on the B955 until you have crossed the River South Esk then turn right in trees, signed Edzell/Brechin. You pass Cortachy Castle then climb a hill, bear right at the top for Memus. In Memus (camp site) turn right then left at the phone box followings signs for Edzell. There's a pub which does bar food slightly off-route, (Drover's Inn, just south of this junction).
From the Memus junction generally keep straight on east through Fern to Tigerton. The road runs close to the edge of the hills giving excellent views over the Angus countryside. Bear left in Tigerton to climb steeply out of the village, Straight on at the next crossroads then right and left at the following T junction. A mile after this you meet the B966 running into Edzell. Turn left and pass under the arch to enter the town.
Edzell is an attractive small town with several good hotels, B&Bs, tea rooms and shops. Edzell Castle is quite near and worth visiting. Edzell is included in the "circular" route because it's an attractive destination with places to eat. If you are looking for a few extra miles, cycling up Glen Esk is an attractive ride and not particularly hilly. To continue to Fettercairn however keep on the B966, this is fairly flat - you enter Fettercairn passing under another arch. Fettercairn is smaller than Edzell; it does have a distillery, the second oldest in Scotland. You can visit it, but if you are offered a free dram bear in mind that there are a few tricky hills ahead!
Leave Fettercairn on the B974 towards Cairn o' Mount. Keep on this for four miles until Clatterin' Brig (restaurant). Here the B974 begins its serious climb to 455 metres at Cairn o' Mount. We turn off it turning right to cross the bridge, then climb steeply towards Auchenblae. The Cairn o' Mount road is popular with motorcyclists in summer and may be snowbound in winter. After an initial climb the back road to Auchenblae levels off and runs through lovely Strath Finella. Bear left towards the end of this wooded section (no sign) for Auchenblae. In Auchenblae follow signs for Glenbervie and Drumlithie. In Drumlithie bear left at the pub (closed daytime), pass under the railway then descend steeply to a level crossing. Turn right after this. You pass Connachie Farm (cows crossing at 7.30 and 3.30) then turn right at a T junction for a rolling descent towards Stonehaven. After five miles on this road turn right at a Water Authority Store then take the second left which will take you on an overpass crossing the dual carriageway A92 to Stonehaven. Stonehaven has many attractions and an interesting harbour, see About the Route.
To continue from Stonehaven to Dunnottar Castle and beyond leave Stonehaven going south on the A957. However before you have actually left the town, you'll notice a small one-way road leading off to the left. This will be signed for the National Cycle Network Route 1. It leads steeply up a hill leading to the sea-cliffs next to Dunnottar Castle. The castle is in a spectacular location, and looks quite ruined from the shore but in fact there is quite a lot to see inside. It doesn't have a tea room however.
Continuing south from the castle is mostly a matter of following the Route 1 signs. This route only follows Route 1 as far as Inverbervie. The national route continues south to Montrose and beyond. (The Inverbervie to Montrose section is still being developed by Sustrans and at present includes some rough parts and a section on the A92.) Shortly before Inverbervie you pass near the Old Church of Kinneff where the crown of Scotland was hidden under the flagstones (see About the Route). Inverbervie has B&Bs, shops and a cafe but the route turns east to follow the B967 to Arbuthnott just before the town. You have to cycle a short distance on the A92 before turning right to the B967, this is a descent so you'll only be on it for a minute or two - look behind you and signal clearly when turning right.
Slightly inland on the B967 is the Lewis Grassic Gibbon Centre, for this is the Howe of the Mearns, difficult farming country made famous by James Leslie Mitchell who wrote u