Part of the St Cyrus National Nature Reserve, this beautiful beach is a must-visit if you’re in the area. Nestled into the coastline between Aberdeenshire and Angus, 18 miles south of Stonehaven, St Cyrus beach stretches for three miles, hugged by red sand cliffs and complete with interesting rock formations and a ruined castle. In previous visits we have always driven to the car park (follow signs for the St Cyrus National Nature Reserve from the A92 south of St Cyrus village, just before you cross the River Esk) and walked to the beach from the Visitor Centre, but last weekend we drove into St Cyrus itself (up the helpfully named Beach Road) and parked beside the church. From here you can follow the signs to a cliff path walk that leads you to the beach. Even if you decide not to venture down this way, it is worth stopping here to take in the spectacular views of the beach and the sea spread out before you.
We managed the ten minute walk with a baby and toddler (although it was a more difficult, and much longer, journey back to the car with one very tired toddler who insisted on being carried and an equally insistent hungry baby) and the path is well-maintained with steps some of the way and a bench half way along. In the glorious September sunshine last weekend, this was our first sight of the beach.
I thought these buildings made a pretty picture as we walked down the cliff path, and discovered later at home that the building pictured on the right above is a former ice house (apparently traditional salmon fishing still takes place from the beach) and that the house on the left was inhabited by fishermen up until the 1990’s.
The nature reserve, and the cliffs in particular, make a good spot for wildlife watching; the cliffs are home to peregrine falcons and fulmars, and you could glimpse the fins of porpoise or dolphins in the vast expanse of sea.
Once we had descended the cliff, we walked north along the beach towards the rock formations, in search of rock pools and caves for our toddler to explore.
I have written before how wonderful I think beach exploration is for kids and Isaac certainly was in his element running along the shore, stopping every two seconds to tell us about some ‘treasure’ he had found. As well as the many rock pools and incredible rock formations to examine along the shore, there is a deep cave tucked into the cliff – I cannot, ahem, tell you exactly how deep, however, as I didn’t venture much past the entrance… I did see a number of – much braver – children with head torches disappearing into its dark, chilly depths.
Upon taking these photographs, I reflected that it didn’t look very much like your average beach walk on a September afternoon in the north of Scotland – the rock formations set against a cobalt blue sky and the heat of the sun pressing against my skin gave me the feeling of being much further from home.
As we walked back, one tired mummy soothed by the gentle rolling of the waves and renewed by the warm sea breeze, I looked up at a couple of houses perched on the cliff-side. Rooms with a view indeed…