Angus: what most visitors miss
The county of Angus lies on Scotland’s east coast between Dundee and Aberdeen. If people have heard of it, it’s usually because major golf tournaments are contested at Carnoustie, a links course of fearsome reputation.
But there’s so much more to Angus than golf. It’s home to at least five “best-kept secrets”.
One of my favourite walking spots is Lunan Bay, two miles of sandy beach on a gentle curve backed by dunes. The river Lunan runs into it near the southern end, its rushes hiding swan’s nests. On the bank above sit the sandstone ruins of Red Castle, weathered over the centuries into fantastical shapes.
In a corner of the bay, the old fishing village of Eassie hugs the ledge of the cliff. It’s now a gated community, a single-track road its only connection to the outside world.
The bay is one of the best places on the east coast of Scotland for surf and the sky is often colourful with the sails of kite-surfers. Hundreds of gulls and shags nest on the cliffs, and the rocks are a larder of shellfish waiting to be harvested.
Best of all, even on a sunny weekend when the car park is full it’s big enough to feel as though you have the place to yourself.
Hidden away in woodland near Forfar lies Glamis. The childhood home of the Queen Mum, it is apparently one of the most haunted castles in Scotland. A confection of pink sandstone and turrets, it nestles low against a dramatic backdrop of high hills.
Now open to the public, Glamis is a magical place, full of history, atmosphere and quirky charm. I’ve written a longer post on it.
The Angus Glens
… are five valleys running deep into the foothills of the Cairngorms. According to local legend, the Glens are the imprint of God’s fingers when he finished creating the world.
They vary from gentle, river-created valleys like Glen Esk to the drama of Glen Clova, gouged from the hills by ice-age glaciers. Although popular with walkers, the glens are still quite empty of people, offering great opportunities for wildlife-spotting if you’re quiet enough.
Montrose was the first full-time military airfield in Scotland, way back in 1913. Two hangars from that period are still in use, though not for their original purpose.
Although no planes fly from Montrose now you can still see the runways. You can still use them too, as many cyclists, walkers and runners prove. The old Station HQ is now a museum crammed with information, models – and ghosts. During both World Wars the airfield was a training camp for pilots, many of whom are still “there”: both staff and visitors see and hear them .
You can read more about the airfield here.
The Abbey of Arbroath has a good claim to be the home of Scottish nationalism, because it was here, in 1320, that the Declaration of Arbroath was signed.
Officially this was a letter to the Pope claiming the right of Scotland as an independent country to take up arms in its own defence. In fact it was aimed at the English King who wanted to annex Scotland, to warn him “hands off!”. The Abbey is now a ruin, but the Declaration still has life in Scots’ hearts.
And there’s more…
Angus has plenty more to offer than these five best-kept secrets. It often feels like the part of Scotland no-one visits. People rush up the main road between Perth and Aberdeen, missing the real treat in the middle.
There’s farmland, forestry, mountain, ocean; breath-taking views, fine architecture, music, art; Arbroath smokies to eat and locally-produced beer, gin and vodka to drink. The air is clean; it’s a peaceful county.
If you want something more energetic, Angus offers excellent horse- and mountain bike-riding, scuba diving, hill-walking, canoeing, and (of course) golf.
So next time you’re heading from Perth to Aberdeen, take some time out to explore Angus, Scotland’s hidden-in-plain-sight gem, and discover its secrets for yourself.
Find out more
https://www.visitangus.com/ has listings for things to do , places to go, accommodation and everything else you need for a first visit to the county.
For a list of recommended accommodation providers, see the DAVAA website.