Having had an Angus postcode for nine months and now living in Aberdeenshire close to the Angus border, I have grown to love this perhaps often overlooked area with its quiet beauty; rolling farmland, picturesque glens and stunning coastline. I feel that I’ve only just scratched the surface of the gems to be found in the region but here are some of the family-friendly places that I’ve discovered so far.
Charleton Fruit Farm
Just outside Montrose Charleton Fruit Farm has been one of our most-loved places to visit this summer. As well as fruit picking, children can enjoy the outdoor play area and a packed toy corner in the lovely cafe. We’ve picked strawberries, raspberries and peas – what better way for young children to learn about food than picking it out of the ground themselves?
The food in the cafe is delicious – we refuelled after one fruit-picking session with their meat and cheese platter and tapas (both highly recommended) and had a ‘snack’ of Belgian waffles and pancakes with fresh fruit and cream prior to another – amazing! I’ve yet to sample their strawberry tarts but they look phenomenal.
We only just discovered this wonderful hidden gem last week. The oh-so-charming town of Edzell is about a 20 minute drive from Laurencekirk and is home to impressive castle ruins with gorgeous gardens. In the care of Historic Scotland, Edzell Castle is a beautiful red sandstone building with gardens that conjured up some Alice in Wonderland images in my mind (the red rose bushes and hedges perhaps?). My son was thrilled when he saw the 16th century castle and went running off to explore – we commented that it would be a lovely place to picnic and watch the little ones play, their imaginations ignited by the storybook setting.
The walled garden was added in 1604 and I found it completely enchanting, just a lovely place to walk. I imagine this peaceful setting must have been a quiet haven for the Lindsays, to whom the estate belonged.
An added bonus for Isaac was the peacock who wandered the grounds, pecking around the picnic tables oblivious to the small boy trying to ‘give him back his feather’.
Miniature Railway, Arbroath
It was my first visit to Arbroath but I didn’t get much of a chance to explore as it was a quick, passing through kind of visit. I didn’t even get to buy an Arbroath Smokie. My husband had read about a miniature railway that he thought our train-mad son would enjoy and so we headed to the West Links Park near a wonderful play area on the seafront. This is Scotland’s oldest miniature railway, with kids taking train rides here since 1935.
Isaac absolutely loved it – and what child wouldn’t? There was a little bridge he could cross whilst waiting for his train to depart and a little turn wheel in front of the train sheds. And, oh! – how cute is this little train? There are six miniature trains, including two steam, and a trip on a train costs £1 per child and £1.50 per adult.
As well as the miniature railway children can pay £1 to take a ride on a miniature Stagecoach bus – how adorable do things look when they’ve been shrunk down?! I giggled listening to it bbbbbrrrmmmmmmm along the beach promenade sounding very much like my old mini.
I also read online that there is a fire engine, which hopefully will be there next time we visit.
I thought we’d perhaps return to the beach front play area before the summer had passed but I’m sure we’ll head there again soon so Isaac can have a longer time exploring – and perhaps I’ll get my smokie!
When we lived in Gourdon I loved visiting nearby St Cyrus beach – a gorgeous arc of beach pressed into the edge of the land like a thumbnail. Another coastal gem (often described as one of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches) is Lunan Bay, about a 10 minute drive from Montrose. It is one of my very favourite places in this area, tucked into rolling countryside. Gathered in by arms of land on either side, with sand dunes, caves and rock pools it is a fantastic space for children to explore, whatever the weather.
Just beside the car park for the beach you’ll find the Lunan Bay Diner, a wonderful little cafe with scrumptious food. I believe it’s only open at weekends in off-peak months but it’s well worth a visit. And a lovely lunch here is the perfect way to top off a beach adventure…