Tuesday morning we decided a proper look around Nairn was called for. Drove down to the golf course and found a totally empty car park next to the beach. We walked through Fishertown which is between the sea and the main town, a maze of old fishing cottages all built with the gable ends of each terrace facing the sea. The main town is over the main A96, what to us is a typical Scottish town with a few of the High Street ‘names’ but more independant shops.
We walked back via the harbour, stopping off to coffee and scones at the Basil Harbour Cafe, very quaint and very small, a bit like a hole in the wall with lots of tables tucked in. From there we had a wander down the beach, now we get why its classed as a holiday resort – beautiful white sand for miles.
Having agreed to head for Stonehaven we decided on a route not previously travelled by us. Headed straight down to Grantown on Spey and from there took the A939 through Tomintoul and onwards to Ballater. Yet another amazing road discovery for us, made even better by the total lack of traffic – we saw a handful of cars all the way over. Spectacular views over the mountains and only the one town in miles of absolute wilderness. We pulled over at the Lecht Ski Area for lunch, the mist rolled in and there was only one other car there, sure it would be amazing in the season but a bleak place today. As we were nearing Ballater we came across a very splendid hump back bridge at The Bridge of Gairn, at only 6 metres we cleared it easily, if slowly. Worth parking up for a walk back and a few photos.
Stonehaven is a small and quiet little town just 13 miles outside Aberdeen. The CC took over the former corporation site just over a year ago and totally revamped it. Now its all shiney and sparkly new, fabulous facilities block, decent size hard standing and just a few steps away from the beach. The outdoor lido pool is next door to the site, its just closed down for the year. Shame as they heat the sea water to 29 degrees from April onwards so we were hoping for a dip. Instead we walked along the bay to the harbour. There is a promenade and then a boardwalk all the way round, very popular with a few cafes along the way to stop for a break. The harbour itself is on the sheltered side, a few pubs and a cafe but nothing much else to see there. As the Scottish mist was falling we decided against the 2 miles walk up the hill to the castle, will save that for another visit.
As we walked back through town we came across The Carron Fish Bar – home of the world famous deep fried Mars Bar (the full story of how it was invented, first fried and then made a worldwide phenomenon is on the wall).
Of course we had one – would have been rude not to!! so its something we have experienced, it wasnt as bad as we imagined but we don’t feel the need to eat another one anytime soon. Even though its been a very grey and misty couple of days here the promenade is always really busy. There are cars parked all the way along and people queining in the chip shops and the ice-cream shop, then sitting in there cars eating their spoils before walking it off on the promenade.
Today we took a bus into Aberdeen, aka Furryboots city, a bargain £5.60 each return on a posh bus with leather seats and all. The city was busy but certainly not heaving, with it being referendum day we thought there would be campaigners everywhere but we only saw one little stand for “Yes” giving out badges. We popped to the Tourist Info and picked up a map and set off to explore a few sites in New Town. First stop Belmont Street for a coffee and early lunch, then a wander down to Marischal College, a gothic building that looks hundreds of years old from a distance but as you get closer looks quite new (have read up and built in 1835, so they just must keep it really clean and polished on the outside). Next it was the Toolbooth and old Gaol on Union Street, to be fair it was free but there wasn’t that much to see, and the stone spiral steps were terrifying. We both loved the wide main streets of the city and the fact the buildinga were not too high, gives the city a lovely light feeling even on a grey day.
We walked up King Street towards the University to see the Old Town (as the New Town has been there since the 12th century, the Old Town must be really old?). It was slightly further than we thought so when we got there we managed half an hour around the University buildings and cobbled streets. There are plenty of alleyways (wynds) to explore and the university buildings themselves are well worth a look around. The Kings Museum building is worth the walk alone.
With it being freshers week it was fairly busy everywhere so we decided on a bus back to the New Town for a half an hour browse around the shops before we headed back to Stonehaven, where we resisted the temptation of more deep fried confectionary.