Dunnottar Castle

© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail

Discover 165 continuous miles of dramatic clifftops, enchanting coves, paradise beaches, charming towns and marvellous wildlife on the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail.

Start / Finish
St Cyrus / Portsoy
  • Days
    4
  • Distance
    104.2 Miles

    166.72 km
  • Transport
    Car
  • Main theme
    Landscapes
Highlights
Stunning sea views
Coastal walks
Clifftop castles
Seaside wildlife
Areas covered
East
North

Day 1 St Cyrus and Stonehaven

Transport:
Car

The first day of your itinerary will take you to some of the fantastic coastal attractions of southern Aberdeenshire. Begin your day with a refreshing walk around St Cyrus National Nature Reserve, then visit the Maggie Law Maritime Museum in Gourdon. Visit the magnificently ruined Dunnottar Castle, perched high on a seacliff, and explore the beautiful coastal village of Stonehaven, where you can savour a luxurious ice cream and freshly caught seafood.

  • St Cyrus National Nature Reserve St Cyrus

    St Cyrus National Nature Reserve

    Visit St Cyrus in southern Aberdeenshire where you'll be rewarded with miles of golden sand dunes and cliffs. This stunning National Nature Reserve offers the chance to see peregrine falcons circling overhead, rare wildflowers, butterflies and moths.

    Find out more about St Cyrus National Nature Reserve
    NatureScot Reserve Manager, St Cyrus National Nature Reserve, The Old Lifeboat Station, Nether Warburton, St Cyrus, DD10 0AQ
    Key facilities
    • Parking
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Accessible toilets
  • Maggie Law Maritime Museum Montrose

    The Maggie Law Maritime Museum

    This seafaring museum is the newest addition to the trail, and occupies an old coastguard station. It sits beside the old harbour in the heart of Gourdon village. 

    The museum's centrepiece is the lifeboat, the Maggie Law. This was one of the first inshore lifeboats, built in 1890. Still in good condition today, she was in service for 40 years and saved 36 lives. The museum also shares many more fascinating tales of the Kincardine coastline in the upper deck.

    Find out more about Maggie Law Maritime Museum
    William Street, Gourdon, Montrose, DD10 0LW
    Key facilities
    • Parking
    • Hearing Loop
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Level Access
  • Dunnottar Castle Stonehaven

    Scottish Castle on top of cliffs

    The well-preserved ruins of Dunnottar Castle are perched on a dramatic cliff some 160 ft above the North Sea. This once impregnable fortress was visited by legendary historic figures including William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell and in more recent times Mel Gibson in Franco Zeffirelli's 1991 film, Hamlet.

    If you're lucky, you may even see puffins or dolphins from the castle ramparts.

    From Dunnottar Castle you can catch the service 107 bus to Montrose, and then hop on the train down to Dundee, taking roughly 1h 55m.

    Find out more about Dunnottar Castle
    Disney castle

    Dunnottar Castle is also said to be the inspiration for the DunBroch family home in Disney Pixar's Brave

    Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, AB39 2TL
    Key facilities
    • Parking
    • On Public Transport Route
    • Pets Welcome
  • Stonehaven Stonehaven

    Boats line the walls of the picturesque Stonehaven harbour

    © Kenny Lam / VisitScotland, All Rights reserved.

    A couple of miles north of Dunnottar sits the attractive fishing town of Stonehaven. Stop for a delicious meal at one of the cosy inns by the harbour and enjoy freshly caught seafood. Afterwards, treat yourself to an indulgent ice cream at one of Stonehaven's wonderful ice cream shops, such as Aunty Betty's or Giulianotti's.

    Other great coastal attractions in this area include RSPB Fowlsheugh, Stonehaven open air swimming pool, Stonehaven Harbour and Tolbooth Museum.

    Find out more about Stonehaven
    Stonehaven

Day 2 Balmedie, Cruden Bay & Rattray

Transport:
Car

On your second day, visit some of the picture-perfect beauty spots on the coast north of Aberdeen. Absorb beautiful views of sand dunes at Balmedie, see seals basking in the Ythan Estuary, stop for lunch in the pretty coastal town of Cruden Bay and admire the imposing Slains Castle, which is thought to have inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula.

  • Forvie National Nature Reserve Ellon

    Forvie National Nature Reserve

    Travel north from Aberdeen to Balmedie where you'll be greeted with epic sand dunes and a pristine stretch of beach, perfect for a leisurely morning stroll. Stop at the nearby Forvie National Nature Reserve and Ythan Estuary to watch paddling eider ducks and seals basking at the mouth of the estuary.

    Find out more about Forvie National Nature Reserve
    NatureScot Reserve Manager, Forvie National Nature Reserve, Little Collieston Croft, Ellon, AB41 8RU
    Key facilities
    • Parking
    • Level Access
    • Accessible toilets
  • Cruden Bay Peterhead

    Small waves lap over the pink sands of Cruden bay. A small cottage sits on the headland, with many small fishing boats pulled up on shore.

    © Iain Sarjeant, all rights reserved.

    Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, often holidayed in Cruden Bay, and the pretty coastal town is a lovely place to stop for a refreshing walk along the beautiful beach before enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.

    You could even take time out to play a round of golf at Cruden Bay Golf Course, one of the finest link courses in the country.

    Find out more about Cruden Bay
    Peterhead, AB42 0NN
  • Bullers of Buchan Walk Cruden Bay

    Cruden Bay Golf Club, Aberdeenshire

    © VisitScotland / Airborne Lens

    This beautiful 1.5/2 hour walk, which starts in Cruden Bay, passes ruined Slains Castle, widely believed to have inspired Bram Stoker's horror classic, Dracula.

    Snap pictures of the imposing castle (from a safe distance!) and watch the sea rushing through the archway of the Bullers of Buchan, a 30m deep chasm created from a collapsed sea cave. Rare birds like mainland puffins can sometimes be seen nesting. Take care when walking along the path though as it is very close to the edge of the cliffs.

    Other great coastal attractions in this area include Torry Battery where you can spot dolphins, Aberdeen Fun beach, Peterhead Bay, RSPB Loch of Strathbeg reserve and Rattray Head beach.

    Find out more about Bullers of Buchan Walk
    Time to explore
    2 hours

Day 3 Crimond, Fraserburgh & Macduff

Day 4 Macduff, Banff & Portsoy

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