This post is part of a paid partnership with Visit Angus
The Angus Tour
For those that don't know, the region of Angus is nestled on the east coast of Scotland just north of Dundee and south of Aberdeenshire. It extends from the scenic Angus glens in the west to sweeping beaches and rugged cliffs along its eastern fringes. The lush verdant landscape in-between is punctuated with grand castles and quaint towns.
Boasting such diversity over a relatively small area means most visitors will find a variety of activities to suit their interests without having to travel too far. To help narrow down and plan an itinerary tailored to your own preferences, Visit Angus have developed the Angus Tour which allows you to pick and choose from their suggested itineraries or design your own adventure.
What to do and where to eat on an adventure along the Angus coast
When I got the chance to plan my own Angus Tour, the stunning coastline was firmly on my radar, along with immersing myself in nature, exploring some lesser known history, discovering some hidden gems and eating all the local food - basically, all my favourite things to do!
I opted to spend my time between the main coastal towns of Montrose, Arbroath and Carnoustie. They are all fairly close to one another so it was easy to dip my toes in each town and stop by some other worthwhile gems along the way. I spent 2 days in Angus and rather than rushing around packing loads in to each day, I explored at a more leisurely pace, spending more time at fewer attractions, and to be honest, this is my preferred way to travel if I get the chance.
However, if you want to maximise your time, there are plenty more things to do in each of these Angus towns so I have listed everything that I got up to below, with a few more ideas thrown in for those of you looking to fill your itinerary with even more options.
What I got up to around Montrose
FOLLOWED ONE OF THE WALKING TRAILS AROUND MONTROSE BASIN
The town of Montrose is bordered by the North Sea on one side and a large tidal basin on the other. Designated as a nature reserve, Montrose Basin is home to a variety of wildlife all year round and attracts over 100,000 migratory birds during the winter.
I've visited a couple of times now and it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the town. A good starting point is The Scottish Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre with a café and panoramic views of the estuary. Staff are on hand to point out wildlife of note and provide access to telescopes and binoculars. This is also the place to pick up a leaflet detailing the numerous walking trails.
On this visit I opted to follow the Lurgie's Walk, starting at the Old Montrose Pier it is an easy walk of 2km each way. Although I could see the outline of the town across the water, all I could hear was bird song and the occasional splash of jumping fish. I was instantly transported to a world of bees and butterflies flitting around vivid purple thistles, and swans gliding across the glassy water. It felt a bit like I had stepped in to a fairy tale! Oh, and the best bit, I had it all to myself.
As this trip was largely about soaking up the scenery and nature of the Angus coast, I don't think I could have found a better place to while away an hour or two. I literally felt my stresses melt away as the sun warmed up my bones as I sat on a makeshift bench watching the insects and birds go about their business.
If you're visiting Montrose, take some time out to stop by the Basin and immerse yourself in nature, I can guarantee you will feel all the better for it!
VISITED LUNAN BAY AND THE RED CASTLE
For me, Lunan Bay is the most beautiful stretch of beach in Angus and I'm not alone in thinking that, every year it attracts a growing number of visitors. Miles of golden sand backed by towering grassy dunes and bookmarked by cliffs is overlooked by the ruins Red Castle creating a scene of beauty and drama.
Over the years I've walked along Lunan Bay on several occasions, usually finished off with some tea and cake in the café. This time I wandered from the beach viewpoint, along the road and up to the castle for breath-taking views and while this is still an undeniably pretty place, I was disappointed to come across the scorch marked remnants of a campfire and discarded toilet paper among the dunes, but I shouldn't have been surprised, like many parts of the country, a rise in popularity has created extra pressure on a fragile landscape and attracted some unfortunate anti-social behaviour
But its not all doom and gloom, most visitors go for the same reasons as me, to enjoy the natural beauty and all the positive aspects of spending time outdoors. They leave everything the way they found it, and for the time they are there, they do their best to minimise their impact so the next visitors can enjoy it too.
But what is the answer to the minority who intentionally or unintentionally leave a negative impact or spoil the experience for others? Up and down the country local groups of residents and businesses are trying to come up with solutions and the Lunan Bay Communities Partnership was started for those very reasons.
I had a chat with a couple of the members who explained some of the common and more unique challenges that Lunan Bay faces. I don't think many people realise Lunan Bay is in the hands of private landowners which means they don't have the usual facilities and support provided by the council when it come to things like clearing up litter left behind or maintaining roads and car parks utilised by the public, including an increasing amount of large motorhomes. This is without even touching on the fragile marine habitat or the problems local residents face when the limited infrastructure is put under pressure, its worth remembering Lunan Bay isn't just a beauty spot for visitors, it is a residential community.
Not all of the issues have an easy solution and that is why the Community Partnership exists but there are things we can do as visitors to make sure we are doing our bit to preserve this special landscape for future generations. Here is a useful reminder of some tips and rules we should all be abiding by -
What I got up to in Arbroath
EXPLORED A SEA CAVE WITH ARBROATH CLIFF TOURS
I've walked along the distinctive red sandstone cliffs at Arbroath once before, but never did I think I would be exploring inside their dark, watery, hollow belly! Because beneath the well trodden cliff trail are multiple sea caves, many with evocative maritime names like Mermaid's Tunnel and Smuggler's Cave. Some of them sound downright ominous - anyone for a trip into the Dark Cave, or the Forbidden Cave?
Although the locations are marked on an illustrated map next to the start of the cliff top path, I would personally advise joining a local expert if you are tempted to head underground, and that is exactly what I did. I met up with Cameron Smith who runs Arbroath Cliff Tours and leads kayak tours along the coast into the sea caves. However, when it became apparent the weather wasn't going to be conducive to a kayaking excursion, he offered to guide me down the cliffs to explore The Stalactite Cave on foot.
We spent around an hour scrambling over rocks, wading through pools filled with sea anemones and crabs, admiring the amazing stalactites that the cave is named after, exploring various offshoots and capturing images of the extraordinary beauty of the cavernous space. Cameron regaled me with local tales and pointed out the large 'thumbs up' rock formation which I'd managed to miss - it does look exactly like its giving a thumbs up to anyone brave enough to venture far enough along the cave to discover it!
If you want to get a whole new perspective of Arbroath, I highly recommend heading out on a kayaking adventure with Cameron, you'll be amazed what lies hidden inside the cliffs!
VISITED THE SIGNAL TOWER MUSEUM
The coastal town of Arbroath has a long maritime history and the best place to learn more is at The Signal Tower Museum. The free-to-visit attraction is housed in the original shore station and lighthouse keeper's cottages built for the keepers of the famous Bell Rock Lighthouse and their families. Although the lighthouse still acts as a crucial navigation beacon off the Angus coast, it is now remotely operated after it was demanned in 1988.
Bell Rock is the world’s oldest working sea-washed lighthouse and an exhibition in the museum gives an insight in to the challenges faced by its engineer, Robert Stevenson, back in 1807 when construction first began on a lump of rock constantly battered by the North Sea and submerged at high tide.
I think this is a great attraction to visit as there are so many interesting stories and objects to discover, from the smoking pipe made out of a crab claw to the witches ball hung next to windows to protect houses from evil spirits, I spot something new each time I visit.
The display I always spend the most time at is dedicated to the hardy fishwives who multi-tasked looking after the home, raising children, spending long hours baiting lines, selling fish and even wading out to sea with men on their backs to prevent them their feet getting wet before a days fishing - oh yeah, and the women also hauled the boats back to the beach when the men returned!
On this trip I was delighted to find that new exhibits had been extended out to the lighthouse keeper's cottages and it was really interesting to read about Arbroath's textile industry which I never really knew about before my visit. If you're visiting Arbroath, this is a must stop in my opinion.
What I got up to in Carnoustie
VISITED BARRY MILL
Barry Mill is a rare example of a working water-powered oatmeal mill in Scotland and this was my first time visiting this hidden gem cared for by the National Trust for Scotland. I was taken into the mill by a guide who explained some of the history before switching on the machinery so I could fully appreciate how everything worked.
I was fascinated by all the creaking and clunking of the wooden apparatus and the woosh of the water wheel turning, it did feel a bit like I had stepped back in time. Although there has been a mill here for approx 800 years, most of the current construction dates back to around 1814 after the earlier building was destroyed by fire. I was amazed to learn that the mill was in operation until 1982 in its current form, a testament to early engineering
At one time, mills like this would have been a common sight across Scotland but most have been lost over time as technology progressed, so it was a real treat to visit such a rare piece of history. It is easy to be charmed by romantic castles and stately homes but we often overlook the buildings that were of real importance to the everyday Scot over past centuries.
There are lots of detailed display boards to read and the tranquil grounds around the mill are dotted with picnic benches so I spent much longer than I anticipated at this attraction, learning the history and sitting outdoors with a coffee from the visitor centre. If I had more time I would have followed one of the nature trails along the Barry Burn.
As it was, I was in my element listening to the chatter of birds and the cooling breeze rustling through the trees. This is an idyllic spot that not many people seem to know about and if you're looking to get off the usual tourist trail, this is the place to go.
STOPPED BY CARNOUSTIE BEACH
Carnoustie Beach wasn't part of my original itinerary but the sun was shining and I had a little time to spare before dinner so it seemed like a good place to linger for a bit. I'd love to visit again when the tide is out and more of the sand is exposed as I have seen some lovely photos. However, it was still the ideal place to finish off a relaxing 2 days exploring the Angus coast and it gives me an excuse to go back!
Where to eat on the Angus coast
This trip wasn't just about nature and history, it was also about indulging in local produce, and in my case, eating all the seafood! Good food doesn't just nourish the body, it is also good for the soul, so here are my top recommendations for restaurants along the coast serving up yummy dishes using fresh ingredients from the Angus larder.
On my first day I ate lunch at Rae’s, a lovely restaurant on the High Street of Montrose and I am so happy to have discovered this place for many reasons! They source all their produce, spirits and artwork as locally as possible with nothing travelling more than 50 miles. They also use up food donated to them by local businesses that would otherwise become food waste and cook meals for local charities that don't have access to kitchens. They are also dog friendly and most importantly their food is delicious - so please support them if you are in the area.
Owners Helen and Wouter created a gluten free 'high wine' which featured tasting-sized samples from their evening menu and dessert menu, what a yummy treat. Although I loved it all, the scallops were a particular standout and their take on an Eton Mess was delicious, both dishes are favourites of mine and they did a great job of adding their own twist.
THE BUT'N'BEN, AUCHMITHIE
The But'n'Ben is located in the pretty village of Auchmithie near Arbroath and it is well worth the short detour to this family run restaurant. They specialise in home-cooked Scottish dishes, and local seafood is a staple on the menu. When I'm eating at restaurants along the coast I tend to gravitate towards their catch of the day (must be the salt laden air!) and seafood specials very much became a theme on this trip.
When owner Margo informed me of the scallop and mussel special, I was instantly sold and plates of side vegetables ensured I didn't go hungry. I blame the sunny weather for making me feel carefree enough to order a strawberries and ice-cream chaser, although it did go down rather well. As I left, I couldn't resist a browse of their local gift stand and left with 2 lovely handcrafted seal ornaments as a memento of my trip.
THE WEE COOK KITCHEN, CARNOUSTIE
Needing to fuel up one last time before the long drive home, I headed for dinner at the rather funky WeeCook Kitchen in Carnoustie. I loved the international vibe and decor of this place and although local produce features heavily, it is served with a global twist.
I opted for...you guessed it... the seafood special of freshly caught local crab in a Thai dressing. I was informed that it had been caught in Arbroath that morning, fresh from the boat to the table and it tasted superb. As it was my last meal in Angus, I went all out on another dessert and ordered gluten free apple fitters in salted caramel sauce - honestly it was soooo good I would be willing to drive across the country to Carnoustie again just to order more!
The restaurant is well known for its award-winning pies and when I spotted their 'Poochie Pies', I had to take one home for Willow as an apology for leaving her behind on this trip - needless to say, it went down very well, and very quickly!
Where to stay
On this trip I stayed in one of the executive rooms at the Links Hotel in Montrose which is centrally located in a quiet area of the town with plenty of parking. My room was modern and spacious with lots of extras including a trouser press, bathrobes and several travelling kits - I was very grateful for the dental kit when I discovered I had forgotten my toothpaste - doh!
Next door to the Links Hotel is its sister hotel, the Park Hotel, and this is where I had my dinner - can you guess what I ordered? If you said the seafood special well done to you, this time I opted for sea bass with crushed potatoes and mango salsa - yum!
After a long day of travel I soaked in a hot shower, brewed up some tea, flopped down on the huge bed to watch TV before falling in to a deep sleep - bliss.
With so many possibilities, I highly recommend popping over to The Angus Tour to create the perfect Angus itinerary for you, it worked well for me!
I hope my latest Adventure Around Scotland has given you some inspiration
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