Aberdeenshire Day Out – Stonehaven’s Dunnottar Castle

The bright intense sunshine was begging us to leave the flat, it seems so wrong to not take advantage of the rare perfect days. Hand in hand we strolled down Union Street enjoying the warmth whenever there was a break in the chilly shadows cast by the granite buildings.

Meeting our new (and weirdly similar) friends, Heather and Jason, we caught the bus at Holburn Junction headed South for Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle. On the bus we excitedly chatted about the castle we were headed to see; Heather and Jason had visited before but thanks to the lack of daylight hours they hadn’t been able to enter the ruins. Reminiscing on the terrible weather on their previous trip, we were nothing but smiles looking over the sun-lit grassy fields filled with sheep munching away.

Cow Yield Sign on road

To save time we decided to ride the bus past Stonehaven and get off at the castle and then walk the scenic dirt path along the ocean back to the picturesque town to catch the bus back to Aberdeen. The 30 minute £7.60 (there and return ticket) ride went quickly and we eagerly jumped off seemingly in the middle nowhere.

The Dunnottar ruins were our fast approaching backdrop as we walked down the road. After passing a dirt parking lot and a couple of signs we were suddenly in a midst of other tourists who had also decided to take advantage of the beautiful Sunday.

Dunnottar Castle

We pulled out our cameras, getting ready to try to capture the mystical place when someone pointed out the dark curtain of rain far up the coast. Jason quickly started packing up his camera as I looked at him in disbelief; those clouds were so far away and we didn’t even know if they were coming this way! As I turned to look back at the storm my jaw dropped, it was almost on us! Never have I seen weather move so fast in my life. Hastily I stuffed my camera under my jacket and didn’t even have my raincoat zipped when the first drops started falling. By the time my hood was up the wind was pelting snowflakes into my back and the castle had all but disappeared in the gray haze. Looking into each others shocked faces we all doubled over laughing (careful not to point our faces into the bullet snowflakes peppered at us by the wind), so much for our beautiful day!

Selfie in snow with Dunnottar Castle in background


Selfie in a storm

Our decision to wait out the storm, hoping it would blow over as quick as it came in, was rewarded. After 15 minutes we were standing in the bright sunshine once again, however now shivering, damp and staring at the horizon with untrusting eyes.

Dunnottar castle is located on an ‘almost’ island. You walk steeply down a path as though you are going to the beach and then after the ground flattens you hike back up to the castle entrance. For medieval battle purposes (and scenic ocean views), it’s easy to understand why this location was chosen.

Stone wall ruins in Dunnottar Castle

After paying our £6 entrance fee we slowly wandered through the ruins and grounds. Being bad tourists we didn’t educate ourselves about the castle prior to our arrival. We spent the majority of our time being astonished by the elaborate stone architecture, staring in disbelief at the Lion Cave (where supposedly a King once kept a lion) and contemplating how in the world the Dunnottar inhabitants had managed to keep warm.

View of Dunnottar Grounds


selfie on Stone staircase in dunnottar castle


Chapel at Dunnottar Castle

Eyeing more fast approaching ominous clouds we scurried back to the most protected building. While enjoying the view of falling snow from our stone chamber we came to the quick conclusion that it was a good time to dive into the wine, cheese and crackers we had brought along. There are few more lovely moments in life than sharing laughter, wine and good conversation with friends inside the ruins of a medieval Scottish castle.

wine and cheese in a castle

After another hour of playing with our cameras and exploring Thieves Hole, the brewery and the ill-fated prison we decided to make our way to Stonehaven. The path lazily wound its way along the coastal cliffs and next to the grazing sheep. I kept feeling the need to pinch myself in order to remember and fully appreciate where I was.

Bench looking over Dunnottar Castle

We arrived to Stonehaven just in the nick of time, another attack of angry snow had commenced. Deciding to partake in Stonehaven’s self-proclaim to fame we rushed inside a tiny fish n’ chips shop to sample the infamous deep-fried Mars bar. Feeling glutinous we each ordered our own and felt our stomachs excitedly grumble as we watched her bread and fry our candy bars. Handed to us piping hot we had to wait a couple of excruciating minutes to let them cool, however the life span of each of those bars was no more than five minutes.

deep fried mars bars with sign

With 45 minutes to spare before the arrival of our bus we found a small coffee shop and reminisced about the wonderful day over hot chocolate. Loading drowsily back on the bus our ride home was much quieter, everyone feeling the effects of our crashed sugar high. Smiling I snuggled into Dalton’s chest, it had really been the best Valentine’s day.

Love Lane in Stonehaven

Aberdeenshire Day Out - Stonehaven's Dunnottar Castle

2017-01-30T19:40:14+00:00 February 19th, 2016|Europe, Scotland, Travel, UK|7 Comments

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  1. Linnea February 22, 2016 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Wow, this is lovely! I’ve been meaning to go to Dunnottar Castle + Stonehaven (it looks so cosy from the Edinburgh!) for some time, but I suppose awaiting a sunny day is not a safe strategy in Aberdeen considering the wee hail storm that was on Valentine’s, haha! What number bus is it?

    • sydpaulsen February 23, 2016 at 7:30 am - Reply

      Linnea, thank you so much for commenting! 🙂
      It really was a lovely day. And although not necessarily ideal the hail storm made for a memorable experience. The Aberdeen weather has a mind of its own, as I’m finding out all to often!
      I’m not sure from Edinburgh but from the Aberdeen city center X7 will get you there. Only took about 30 min and £7 something round trip. Definitely a worthwhile afternoon excursion 🙂

      • Linnea February 24, 2016 at 4:11 pm - Reply

        Haha yes, today’s weather has been very similar! I was on my way back from town when these cute snow flakes started to fall down the sky — of course within SECONDS it was bloody mayhem! The local Aberdeen bus will work just fine, thanks for sharing!! 🙂

      • Linnea February 24, 2016 at 4:15 pm - Reply

        Oh shoot, I somehow managed to trash the comment you left me on the Costco-post!! But yes, it would be really cool to bump into you somewhere in this town. It is fairly small after all! 🙂

  2. Kim February 24, 2016 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Can’t wait to come visit and see these things for myself. What a wonderful experience and beautiful place. Thanks for sharing.

  3. […] shower and brekkie, we headed off to catch the bus out to Stonehaven from Union Street. Thanks to a very informative post by Sydney, I already knew the drill. Kind […]

  4. […] been here (I think the weather gave us a slightly misleading impression, unlike our snowy visit to Dunnottar Castle). Such a lovely end to the day… Especially when we spotted Nessie in the […]

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