Cruden Bay

The village of Cruden Bay straddles the Water of Cruden, a pretty stream that winds between wooded banks, opening into a wide estuary at the northern end of the bay. The village is famous for the long arc of golden sand that constitutes its lovely beach. The bay itself is an almost perfect arc of a circle cut out between the harbour, set against a line of cliffs to the north, and the village of Whinnyfold where the line of cliffs to the south begins. To landward, among the dunes is the course of the Cruden Bay Golf Club, one of the finest links courses in Scotland. The beach itself is ever-changing as the tides and the winds redistribute the sand, perpetually raising dunes and sweeping them away again. The walk from the Ladies' Bridge, to the end of the bay is fascinating because the curve of the beach is almost imperceptible except as the landscape slowly changes its aspect as the walk progresses. The bay is a fine location for bird-watchers, with gulls, cormorants, auks, and several species of waders present all the year round. In the winter time flocks of sanderling chase up and down the edge of the tide like little clockwork toys on wheels, and golden plovers are also common. In the Summer sandwich terns feed in the bay, white-winged, fork-tailed daggers plunging into the waves for their prey.

At the far south of the bay, at the point where the cliffs begin to rise, rocks outcrop from the sand, creating temporary islands, topped with marram grass, roosts for gulls, and for shags. Further seaward the rocks outcrop as the Skares (Pratt's spelling Scaurs) of Cruden, scourge of shipping, the cause of many wrecks.

The striking and formerly atmospheric ruins of New Slains Castle stand on cliffs a little to the north of Cruden Bay. They used to be very worthwhile to visit, but recently they have been fenced off and stripped of atmosphere and interest as a result of a speculative property-development rebuilding the castle as holiday homes.

The Old Kirk of Cruden Bay, stands a short distance inland of the village. It is an unusual and handsome building, elaborated by the addition of two round towers with candle-snuffer roofs to the usual plain rectangular presbyterian church with a simple pitched roof and bellcote on the gable-end.

The episcopal church of St James stands a mile or so south of the village, a prominent landmark visible for many miles over the Buchan plain. The Reverend Dr John Burnett Pratt, author of Buchan (1858), still a valuable source of information about the history of Buchan, was the rector of this church for more than 40 years.

(The 1st of 14 pages. Revision date: Friday 16th March 2012)

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