Travelling in Scotland

Ancient carved standing stones from the 7th century

I have been travelling in the East Coast of Scotland for work recently in the Aberdeenshire and Angus areas. I was very lucky as the sun shone down on me as if I were the blessed pilgrim. Another good aspect of my video job was that I was chauffeured about. I certainly took in some mileage, from Fraserborough in the fair flung north down to Carnoustie, which is fairly near Dundee.

The advantage of all this was to be able to take in the amazing countryside. I hadn’t realised how much of the land was cultivated into agriculture farmland with barley, wheat and oil seed rape being the most prevalent crops.

Historically this side of Scotland offered much for the Bald Explorer and naturally I had my eyes open for likely video investigations in the future. Part of my job was to film some classic landmarks for a presentation my client was organising and included some rather fabulous opportunities for me to learn about Scottish history.

We stopped at Arbroath Abbey which now lies in ruins but cared for by Historic Scotland. It’s red sandstone remains are impressive as you approach the fabulously craved Norman door. It was where the Scottish Declaration was signed in 1320 after the dreadful Battle of Bannockburn where the Scots were triumphant in sending the English home with their tales between their legs.

J.M Barre of course is famed for his whimsy about the ever youthful Peter Pan, but how many people know where he was born or have ever visited his birthplace? Kirriemuir is the town and to make sure visitors do not forget there is a splendid bronze statue in the centre. Unfortunately the Hook Hotel had seen better days and was abandoned and up for sale when we passed by. Presumably the lease had ticked on by too much.

Brechan is a small city, although you would think it was a town, so small and quiet. The cathedral was rather special surrounded by tall trees with much foliage and chunky tombstones. But for me, the round tower, from Irish descent, was rather unusual and a pencil thin curiosity. A tall edifice with simple, yet small door some eight foot off the ground is the only access. It is capped at the top with a conical roof and its original use was as a bell tower. Definitely a joy to have discovered.

Arbroath Abbey, where the Scottish Declaration was signed in 1320

Golf is represented rather heavily along this coastline with is various links courses, including the Montrose Golf link being the fifth oldest course in the world. I didn’t get to tee off myself from there but I filmed a man who did!

One of the curious and weird things I was shown, of which I gather historians are much ignorance themselves are the Aberlemno Stones. Three upright standing stones carved by the ancient Picts sometime in the 7th and 9th centuries. The first I saw was sculpted with a Celtic type cross adorned with angels with books. These are to be found a few miles of Forfar and are easily missed.

For a stroll I took to the footpath that circumnavigates the Loch of Forar, probably one of the smallest Lochs as they go in Scotland. It takes a mere 45 minutes to walk round and when the sun is shining it is very beautiful.

Well, that’s a brief potted look at some of Scotland’s heritage which passed me by on my otherwise ordinary business trip and definitely worth popping back when I have time to explore in greater detail.

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