The closer we get to the the east coast the more villages and towns we run into and the more we have to walk on roads. Leaving Portsoy today there was no way to walk along the cliff tops. It is all private property with barb wire fencing along the edge. There a couple of places you can walk out to the edge for scenic overlooks but not along the entire edge going east. We had to walk on a B road (B9139). It was a quiet road with only early school traffic.
Today we found the winner of the "Best Cottage On This Trip" award. It is called Scotsmill and we just stopped briefly just to look at the whole setting.
After Scotsmill we turned past a quarry (which also prevents you from getting along the shoreline) to get down to the beach again. Along the way is the remains of Boyne Castle.
It was very windy today, a couple of places it nearly knocked us over walking down to the beach. The path to the beach was a brand new access with barbed wire on both sides put up by the quarry company. I suppose they are serious about keeping people off their land, but because of Scottish access laws figured they should provide a way.
We found out way down to the love beach. Or that is what I called it after viewing this heart shaped rock on the beach (it will be this year's Valentine's Day card)
This section didn't offer much in the way of an established path. I doubt many people have come this way on a regular basis.
The views were still great as we stayed close to the shore
We ran into more bogs on the side of the hills as we continued on the coast. It made the travel slower and definitely wetter.
The beach was obviously only accessible by the land owner from above and who ever would be walking the complete length of the coast. A private beach on the north sea! The sea lions were just basking on the beach and playing in the surf. We tried to give them a wide berth but they hopped into the water as we walked the back of the beach.
Just past Stake Ness
We walked through Whitehills. On the east side of Whitehills was a caravan park that had a grocery/convenience store that we stopped at for hot chocolate. We sat out of the wind for awhile and chatted with the lady that owned the store and site about the caravans and who lives in them.
Standing on the Hill of Doune on the McDuff side looking back at Banff and the Banff Bay (above)
Here we had a navigation decision to make. the North Coast trail actually follows the A98 here through McDuff to join a B road further east. Looking at the map I found a trail and access that cut straight over the Hill of Doune to the B road that would keep us off the A98.
If you look at the map you can see how from the Hill of Doune we just go straight east until we reach the B9031.
This plan worked fine until about a mile from the B road. Here we encountered the only time a farmer deliberately blocked the rite of way path. Three barricades had been put up to block off the access between adjacent fields. Two were gates you would see to guide crowds at a sporting event (below left) and then around his farm house he had piled up road cones and chicken wire across the path. (below right) we just politely stepped over and around each obstacle and carried on. (looking over our shoulder of course)
Now would be a good time to explain why I picked so many caravan sites across the north of Scotland. The answer is water. In the western portion of the Highlands water flows free and easily out of the ground everywhere. In the east and especially the north near the sea, I didn't know how much water would be available. The caravan sites offered reliable water at night regardless of the surroundings. In addition the east is full of cattle, sheep and people, even if you found water the quality of that water could be in doubt.
Helen became our savior. Walking up the hill to the entrance the storm really started to come in. The park was actually closed and the owners were away for the day, but Helen was the caretaker and she suggested and insisted that we shouldn't set up our tent and we could stay in the recreation room. It was out of the wind and while she said it wasn't ideal, it seemed like just the answer for us.
She even got us tokens for the washer and dryer and just left us with the key
She wouldn't except any money from me despite me trying repeatedly to give her some.
We spread out our stuff to dry and got into our warmest cloths as we were cold and damp and the concrete floor was cold (later I found a large table top of wood to put under us and that made a platform that was much warmer)
I made several warm drinks and we made dinner for us.
I went and did a load of laundry and just watched as the storm continued outside. The winds were gusting to 60 mph and while I am sure the Duomid would have with stood this wind, it would have been a nerve racking night with little sleep. As it turned out we slept very well.