Haunting and magnificent in equal measure is the best description for one of Aberdeenshire’s most visited attractions.
It’s a place that you will marvel at long after your visit … with its rich history, labyrinth of rooms to discover and amazing views that will leave you in awe.
Waves crash against the steeply carved cliffs, and perched a few hundred feet above the North Sea are the ancient ruins of Dunnottar Castle.
During its long and dramatic past it has endured sieges and various changes in occupation notably the earliest parts of the castle are from the time of William Wallace, when he attacked the English garrison and won back the castle.
The 1600s saw the arrival of the Scottish Crown Jewels, which were sent to Dunnottar Castle for safe keeping, causing a siege by Cromwell’s army. The jewels were smuggled out and taken to Kinneff Old Kirk in Kincardineshire, which is a short drive from Stonehaven.
A couple of hours can easily be spent walking around the ruins and it doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up the dramatic events that unfolded on this spectacular piece of the Scottish coastline.
Just a few miles from the castle sits the town of Stonehaven, with inhabitants numbering almost 10,000 and a broad selection of restaurants, accommodation and things to see and do.
Lodging at the Ship Inn offers a chance to enjoy fantastic views of the marina, boats and cliff tops and stay in one of their 11 rooms, which are all very comfortable.
The inn, which dates back to 1771, has recently been refurbished and feels more like a very cosy and relaxed hotel.
Staff are friendly and the atmosphere is hassle-free. Be sure not to miss the delicious cooked breakfasts as serving time finishes at 9.30am at the weekend.
For a wide selection of delicious evening meals the Ship Inn can offer something for everyone, as can the Marine Hotel that is also located beside the harbour just a few doors down.
Stonehaven Tolbooth, the oldest surviving building in Stonehaven, is worth a visit and is located at the harbour; it was used as an early prison and is now a museum.
The town centre is a short 5-10 minute walk from the harbour and has lots of convenience stores, pubs, restaurants and takeaways including the award-winning Carron fish and chip shop which serves delicious fish and chips and is said to be the likely origin of the deep fried Mars bar.
Robert William Thomson, the inventor of the pneumatic tyre and the fountain pen was born in Stonehaven, as was journalist James Murdoch and Lord Reith of Stonehaven, first Director General of the BBC.
This is a place that regularly attracts tourists, whether it be for the Highland Games or just a weekend break, and not just for the summer months either.
Every Hogmanay, the high street comes alive with fire throwers at the fireball ceremony, with the fireballs being thrown into the |harbour at the end.
With a wealth of options for occupying time and filling your belly, a visit to Stonehaven is worth a’ that and more.