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Tour Montrose and Strathmore's fertile vale

Strathmore's fertile vale with its cattle farms and steep braes divides the Grampian Mountains and Sidlaw Hills from the Firth of Tay and the area's splendid beaches. Wildlife abounds, from wooded watersides to marshy stretches such as Montrose Basin. The remains of rugged castles proliferate, along with intriguing gardens such as Edzell and fine houses like the House of Dun.



Aberlemno
Three carved Pictish stones line roadside of this hamlet. One more in churchyard; carved with Celtic cross and animal decorations. Battle scene on reverse.

Arbroath
Smell of 'smokies' everywhere in this fishing town, haddock smoked over hardwood chip fire. Roofless red-sandstone walls of abbey founded 1178 by King William the Lion, who is buried in front of high altar. Museum in 19th century tower which used to signal to Bell Rock lighthouse.

Ardestie
A well preserved underground earth house with chambers and passages; houses for 1st and 2nd century Picts. Another earth house stands 1 mile north.

Auchmithie
Village on red-sandstone cliffs with restored cottages and tiny harbour; one of the oldest fishing settlements on Angus coast. Model for 'Musselcrag' in Walter Scott's novel The Antiquary.

Boddin Point
Low-lying point with fortress-like limekiln on tip. Look for agates among rocks at low tide. Coastal path leads to Elephant Rock: red-sandstone stack in which sea has carved 'legs' and 'trunk'. Fine view across bay.

Brechin
Town rising steeply from River South Esk. Red-sandstone cathedral dates from 13th century, now a parish church. Pictish relics, 16th century font amid 17th century silver inside. Next to it, 87ft high watchtower dates from 11th century.

Bridge of Dun
Spanning River South Esk, squat obelisks guard approaches to this three-arched bridge decorated with Gothic motifs. Built by Alexander Stevens in 1787.

Broughty Castle
Perched on a rocky spur above Broughty Ferry harbour, this 15th century castle was restored in 1860. Now it houses a museum with exhibits of seashore wildlife, lay's natural history and Dundee's former whaling industry.

Broughty Ferry
Built around cottages of old fishing village. this Dundee suburb doubles as a holiday resort.

Carmyllie
Former home of Reverend Patrick Bell, inventor of the reaping machine in 1828. Workshop remains. Church founded 1500.

Caterthun, Brown and White
Two Iron Age forts: Brown stands alone with six lines of defence, the outermost enclosing an area of 1,000 by 900ft; White, a mile south-west, is a hilltop oval surrounded by two stone walls.

Claypotts Castle
Well preserved late 1500s fortress with towers capped by square garrets, Ground floor dominated by kitchen with vast fireplace and gunport. Sole entrance by small doorway on west front.

Cliffs Nature Trail
East of Arbroath town, broad esplanade has acres of grass. From northern end, 3 mile nature trail leads along cliff tops, passing stack known as Deil's Held; one of many oddly shaped rocks. Cave in Carlingheugh Bay leads through to neighbouring bay. Check tide times before venturing in cave.

Crombie Country Park
Conifer and broadleaf woodland extending for 250 acres, where a Victorian reservoir looks decep-tively like a natural loch. Wildlife hides, trails and Ranger Centre with environmental displays.

Damside Garden
Fragrance fills the air in 8 acres of gardens where history of herbs is explained with Celtic, Roman and monastic displays. Arboretum and tearoom.

Edzell Castle
Red-stone ruins of 16th-century castle dominated by square tower.

Fasque
Castle home of Prime Minister W.E. Gladstone 1830-51. Built 1809, the house looks much as it did in Gladstone's time; still lived in by his descendants. Deer park.

Fettercairn
learn how to make malt whisky on a tour of Scotland's second eldest licensed distillery. Arch marks Queen Victoria's 1861 town visit. Shaft of 1670 Kincardine Tower Cross in main square.

Forfar
Small town where Malcolm III had a castle -- destroyed by Robert Bruce: site is marked by 17th-century octagonal turret. Town Hall and museum has 'Forfar bridle': medieval iron cellar used to gag those about to be executed.

Guthrie Castle
Built in I5th century on site of earlier fortress. Square tower of 1468 and 19th century additions. Can be viewed from outside only.

Hill of Finavon
Remains of ramparted Iron Age fort crown hill with all-round views of the countryside.  Evidence of metal working and pot making.

House of Dun
Handsome house designed by William Adam in early 18th century. Saloon plaster-work depicts armorial bearings. Naval and military trophies and mythological scenes. Potting shed contains early 20th century tools and life-size figure of a gardener at work. Wooded walks through the surrounding parkland.

Johnshaven
Bustling lobster-fishing port. full of holiday homes, with two-basin harbour. Four mile coastal path runs north to the town of Inverbervie.

Kellie Castle
Fine domestic architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries; oldest part dates from 1613.

Lunan Bay
Good shore to search for semiprecious stones, such as agate and amethyst.

Milton of Mathers
Ruined cottages stand side by side with modern holiday chalets. Beach of pebbles and rocks. Good walking in woods where there are two streams; one tumbles down 40ft waterfall of Den Finella.

Monikie
Village noted for battlemented 15th century Affleck Castle, with fine upper hall and vaulted chapel. Waterside walks and boating in country park surrounding reservoir. Beyond Monikie, road runs back towards coast, giving wide views over the sea.

Montrose
Town with water on three sides. Popular sailing centre wiith fine beach. Pink-footed geese over-winter on shores. Church steeple soars 220ft above elegant, gable-ended High Street houses, where the narrow, twisting closes have remained unchanged for 200 years. Curfew bell of 'Big Peter' rings from steeple nightly.

Red Castle
Short, steep path from Lunan Bay to remains of cliff-top castle, probably dating from the 15th century when it replaced earlier fort built for King William the Lion.

Red Head
One of the most unspoiled spots tin Scotland's east coast; sandstone headland is reached by a bumpy 1 1/2 mile drive on an unpaved road. Superb view along coast. Path below cliff edge leads to rocky shore.

Restenneth Priory
Romantic stone ruin surrounded by sloping meadows. Incorporated into remains of Augustinian Priory church is porch, possibly dating from 11th century; later heightened to form square tower. Capped by spire in 15th century.

St Cyrus
Sweep of sand backed by dunes, with cliffs of volcanic rock. Rich in wild flowers, butterflies and moths. Colony of little terns on sand and shingle at the south end. Stonechats, whitethroats and yellowhammers frequent gorse and scrub. Common porpoises sometimes appear offshore and grey seals are seen regularly.

St Vigeans
Unexpected gem in dip below modern housing. Small 12th century church, renovated 19th century, on steep mound dotted with gravestones. Below stands semicircle of red-stone cottages with  stone-slabbed roofs.

Tannadice
Small village on River South Esk in Vale of Strathmore . Ruined 15th century stronghold of Finavon Castle, 2 miles south-east.

If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:



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