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Bows, fiddles, caves and a castle ;)

Bows, fiddles, caves and a castle ;)


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:16 pm

Date walked: 18/11/2012

Time taken: 3 hours

Distance: 11.2 km

Ascent: 300m

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I've had a slight health issue for the last few days and sadly had to take a weekend off serious hillwalking, but with some nice weather over the Moray Coast on Sunday, I couldn't resist a short jaunt to the seaside. Over the last couple of years, we walked the Moray Cast Trail in stages - different combinations of routes, but some parts of this stretch of coast are simply breathtaking and definitely worth more than one visit! The village of Findochty (pronounced Fin-neckity, for reasons I will never understand :lol: :lol: ) is one of such places.
The additional reason for choosing Findochty as the starting point was my accidental discovery, that there are actually ruins of a castle nearby! Very little information can be found online about this one, but my "castles bible" by MacGibbon & Ross contains a short paragraph saying:
"A ruined structure of the L Plan, consisting of a vaulted ground floor with the entrance doorway at the south end, and a staircase in the wing at the north end, entered through the ground floor. This leads to the hall on the first floor, and was apparently continued up to the second floor. Part of the enclosing wall along the low rocky site still exists, and has been used as the back wall of a cottage now in ruins. There are mouldings round the staircase and other windows, but they are much obliterated, having been executed in soft freestone.
The castle stands a short distance north of the Great North of Scotland Railway, about half-way between Findochty and Portessie Stations. It was formerly at the west end of a small loch, which is now drained, and commands a fine view westwards. Little is known of its history."
More research suggested that the castle is a part of a farmyard and close examination may not be possible, but I still wanted to at least have a good look at it, so having pinpointed the location on the map we included this little treat into our route.

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We parked in Findochty harbour - it was a very quiet Sunday morning and the village looked deserted (everybody probably still in bed or enjoying late breakfast). I was surprised to notice there was no breeze - strange, giving the MetOffice prediction for gusts up to 70 mph... Maybe we shouldn't always trust the weather man?... :lol: :lol: :lol:
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We decided to visit the castle first. The ruins are not that easy to spot from the road as they are behind farm buildings. The best view is from the old dismantled railway, now turned into a cycling route:
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The castle was built on a small motte (probably a natural bump):
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We investigated the fields between us and the ruin - it would be hypothetically possible to cross the meadows and then climb the fence to get to the ruins - but honestly, as it was Sunday morning and the castle is basically a part of somebody's backyard, we decided against it. Besides, the ruin looked so dangerous that it probably wouldn't be safe to enter anyway.
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It's definitely overgrown:
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"Findochty castle is a ruined 16th century L-plan tower house. The basement was vaulted and and the hall was on the first floor.
The castle was built by the Gordons, but later passed to the Ogilvies. The Ord family acquired the property in 1568, and were responsible for developing the village as a fishing port. The castle was consolidated towards the end of the 19th century."
("The castles of Scotland" by M. Coventry)
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Stones from the castle were once used to build the nearby farm:
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The derelict cottage was most likely added in 19th century:
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It is sad to see another piece of history falling apart :( The only hope for this castle would be if it was renovated as a farm building but judging by the poor condition of the ruin, it would be a very costly job. So it will sit there and await it's sad end. Such a shame.
We returned to the village, enjoying the views on the way back:
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It was still very quiet, apart from an occasional car on the main road, there was no movement in the village. I felt like in a weird apocalypse movie, "28 days later" or "The happening", something like that :lol: :lol:
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We investigated the port. We've been here before, but it's always nice to lurk around a bit :wink:
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On Sunday morning in Findochty, seagulls rule the harbour:
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The tide was coming in but wit very little wind even the waves didn't make much noise:
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Peace and tranquillity...
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From the main port, we walked to Crooked Hythe which was once used as a shipyard:
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The next stop - lovely little beach at Sandy Creek:
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During the nesting season these rocks are full of seabirds. Now, it was only an occasional seagull...
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Sandy Creek from above:
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The comfortable path leads along the spectacular cliff edge all the way to the next village, Portknockie:
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Looking back along the cliffs:
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We didn't go down to the harbour as our main target was past the village:
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The cliffs further along are even better...
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...and soon we were standing next to the spectacular Bow & Fiddle rock:
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It really reminds me of a sinking ship:
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We didn't plan going any further along the coast so now, we had a good opportunity to stay here for a bit longer and explore the cliffs. Believe me, it's more here than first meets the eye...
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Bow & Fiddle seen from an unusual angle:
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There are countless niches, caves and sea tunnels - most of them only accessible from below:
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Birdlife, even out of the nesting season, is still at plenty - mostly shags and seagulls, but we also spotted a family of eider ducks. Photies here:
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=27083
We practised some easy scrambling on the rocks...
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...just to get to more viewpoints:
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Eventually we found an accessible cave:
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...which turned out to be a sea tunnel!
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It is hard to describe how one feels when inside such a feature. Even with little wind, the sea was coming in and the noise of the waves was multiplied by the echo inside the cave: whoooosh! whoooosh!
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It's possible to scramble up one side of the tunnel but I didn't want to go too far... Still, the impression is unforgettable:
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Water inside the tunnel turns greenish-grey:
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The entrance is a bit steep but it's obvious many people have explored this hidden place before:
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The most fascinating thing about all caves in this area, is the acute angle of the erosion - the way the rock layers formed and moved, resting eventually in an awkward position:
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When the tide is low, it must be possible to venture further into the tunnel:
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We climbed back up the cliffs and returned to the familiar shape of Bow & Fiddle:
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One closer look:
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Impressive rock walls:
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That's the outer entrance of the sea tunnel we have just visited:
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There is more to see further east, the spectacular walk from Cullen to Findlater Castle being one of my favourites...
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...but I was more than happy to enjoy the moment in Portknockie :D :D
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Having spent enough time exploring the cliffs, we strolled back along the coast to Findochty. I was still feeling reasonably and I could feel my vital forces returning to me. If weather doesn't turn nasty this weekend, you may hear me again meowing in the Scottish hills!
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BlackPanther
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Re: Bows, fiddles, caves and a castle ;)

Postby Caberfeidh » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:03 pm

It really reminds me of a sinking ship:
bow fiddle 086.JPG
, Looks like an elephant having a bath to me ! The coastline in N.E. Scotland is impressive: the Bullers O'Buchan is a nice area - lots of puffins in season, and weird rock architecture with that pink granite.
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Re: Bows, fiddles, caves and a castle ;)

Postby dogplodder » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:28 pm

Sinking ship or elephant taking a bath - it's pretty impressive!

I had no idea it was such an interesting bit of coastline. :D
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Re: Bows, fiddles, caves and a castle ;)

Postby Benjaminnevis » Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:32 pm

Ye canae beat the moray coast for a wander.

Agree about historic buildings falling apart it is a shambles. i think the old land owners years ago had to take the roof aff to avoid paying tax :crazy: :crazy:
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Re: Bows, fiddles, caves and a castle ;)

Postby Frigate » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:03 am

Great photos, brought back memories of a happy week in Portknockie, where we hired a cottage as our son was flying from Kinloss at the time. Great walks here and along the coast at Spey Bay. Got some excellent fish straight from a boat in Burghhead.
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Re: Bows, fiddles, caves and a castle ;)

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:19 pm

Thanks a lot, folks :D It might only have been a short jaunt but there are enough attractions around Findochty to keep one occupied the whole day!

Caberfeidh wrote:It really reminds me of a sinking ship:

bow fiddle 086.JPG
, Looks like an elephant having a bath to me ! The coastline in N.E. Scotland is impressive: the Bullers O'Buchan is a nice area - lots of puffins in season, and weird rock architecture with that pink granite.


Ohh, the interpretation changes when you change the angles :lol: :lol: :lol: though the elephant would fit nicely with the Whale's Mouth, a big sea tunnel just east of Bow and Fiddle :wink:
I've been to the Bullers O'Buchan once, walked from New Slains Castle in the middle of nesting season - the best birdspotting adventure in my life so far!

dogplodder wrote:Sinking ship or elephant taking a bath - it's pretty impressive!
I had no idea it was such an interesting bit of coastline. :D


I think these are the best cliffs in Northern Scotland and a very unique coastline! My second half agrees with me -and try to impress a Cornish guy when it comes to sea cliffs! How many times did I hear - it's nice but not as good as Boscastle... Tintagel... St Ives... Botallack... Land's End...blah...blah... :lol: :lol: But when he saw Bow & Fiddle he went quiet - just grabbed his camera!

Benjaminnevis wrote:Ye canae beat the moray coast for a wander.
Agree about historic buildings falling apart it is a shambles. i think the old land owners years ago had to take the roof aff to avoid paying tax :crazy: :crazy:


Sadly, so many gems of history have been neglected. I have recently given myself a task of visiting and photographing as many old, derelict castles and listed buildings in my neighbourhood, as possible. Usually we visit them on the way to/back from hillwalking trips, sometimes it's a separate walk. The results are in my diary. Some old buildings are in excellent conditions, restored or stabilised as ruins (Drumin Castle for example), some others are in so poor condition that it made me cry :( (Boyne Castle, Castle Craig, Blairfindy Castle).
The problem is, forcing the owners to repair old buildings at their own cost wouldn't be exactly fair... It's a catch 22 situation: listed buildings are difficult to restore (cost, bureaucracy, all the permissions from God knows whom) so just as well let's leave them to fall apart. Once the structure becomes dangerous, it will be pulled down - and the problem is gone. Sad but true... :(

Frigate wrote:Great photos, brought back memories of a happy week in Portknockie, where we hired a cottage as our son was flying from Kinloss at the time. Great walks here and along the coast at Spey Bay. Got some excellent fish straight from a boat in Burghhead.


It is a superb area to spend holidays if you live further south :D We're lucky to have this within driving distance (about 1.5hrs drive from Beauly). The official Moray Coast Trail ends in Cullen, but the coastal path goes all the way to Portsoy - superb cliffs and good beaches as well, not to mention Findlater Castle :D
My husband delivers to Kinloss Barracks on daily basis - sadly it's no longer a RAF base...
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Re: Bows, fiddles, caves and a castle ;)

Postby Mountainlove » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:02 pm

Oh the sea tunnel looks amazing!!! Great photos otherwise and hope you have fully recovered by now :D
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Re: Bows, fiddles, caves and a castle ;)

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:43 pm

That's a cracking wee walk :clap: ! Awesome views of the Bathing Elephant Rock :lol: .
We holidayed in that area a good few years back; it's a lovely coastline.
Hope you're feeling better soon :D !
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