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Issue 65 - Angus & Dundee

Scotland Magazine Issue 65
October 2012

 

This article is 5 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

Copyright Scotland Magazine © 1999-2017. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.

Angus & Dundee

Local History - Where to go - What to do

Like the extended fingers of a hand, they make up the southern foothills of the Grampians – Glen Isla, Glen Prosen, Glen Clova, Glen Lethnot, and Glen Esk.

From the City of Perth, the A94 leads north through the hamlets of Scone and Balbeggie to Couper Angus, Meigle and Forfar, and, to the east, the A90 runs alongside the northern banks of the River Tay towards Dundee. This is rich farmland and seasonal berry picking country .

Glen Isla is the most westerly of these glens and the only one where the road exits to the north through the Grampian hills to Braemar and Deeside. It is made up of six parishes along the River Isla; Glen Isla, Kilry and Lintrathen to the north; and Airlie, Ruthven and Kingoldrum to the south.

Towering heather-clad mountains to the north slope gently onto rolling hills which eventually give way to leisurely pasture and arable land. Glenisla boasts an enormous diversity of land- based activities ranging from game shooting, through stock farming, to cereal and vegetable production.

Glen Prosen, a gentle wilderness, lies next to Glen Clova, a glen of spectacular scenery, with the scenery becoming more dramatic as it travels towards Glen Doll. Close by is Cortachy Castle, the seat of the Ogilvies of Airlie since 1625 and it remains the home to the Earl of Airlie. Next there are Glen Lethnot and the 15 mile long Glen Esk, comprising spectacular countryside.

The market town of Forfar dates back to the Roman occupation of Battledykes, three miles to the north. During the Wars of Independence, the castle here was held by the English, and thereafter dismantled by Robert the Bruce.

A visit to the Meffan Museum in the town centre is recommended. It was built by a daughter of the Provost Meffan as a bequest in 1898 and houses the “Forfar Story” and an art gallery. Forfar was once the home of a successful textile industry. In the town there is a plaque in memory of General Sikorski and Polish troops, commemorating the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the town in 1941.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was born Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl and Countess of Strathmore & Kinghorne, whose ancestral home, nearby Glamis Castle, is still occupied by their descendants. Glamis Castle, a turreted red-sandstone building which dates from the seventeenth century, is open to the public and although it is often cited as the most haunted house in Scotland, its interiors have a welcoming and gentle atmosphere.

The nearby town of Kirriemuir is perhaps best known as the birthplace of the playwright Sir James Barrie. A statue of his creation Peter Pan stands in the town square, and the cottage where he was born is now a museum managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Kirriemuir has a long history of being both a religious retreat and a centre for witchcraft, extending back into the 16th century.

A series of sculpted Pictish stones discovered in the vicinity are on view at the Meffan Institute in Forfar. Another son of the area is Sir Hugh Munro, creator of Munro's Tables of Scottish Mountains over 3000 ft (now referred to as Munros).

Follow the A90 from Perth towards Dundee, and the junction at Rait leads to Fingask Castle, ancestral home of the Murray Threipland family who during the month of May feature the Fingask Follies, a lively cabaret show put together with a topical theme. During the interval, ticket holders are invited to picnic on the lawn among the statuaries and topiary. Another diversion accessible at the Inchture Interchange is Abernyte, a busy antiques and arts village.

The City of Dundee, which promotes itself as ‘One City, Many Discoveries,’ sits at the mouth of the River Tay, taking inspiration from its key attraction, the RRS Discovery, Robert Falcon Scott's Dundee-built Antarctic exploration vessel which is anchored on the waterfront.

But that key visitor attraction status is probably about to change for, in 2015, a magnificent waterfront Victoria & Albert Museum project costing £45million is scheduled for completion. Designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma & Associates, this extraordinary complex with its ocean liner style appearance has been conceived as a world centre for design excellence and a catalyst for creative projects and initiatives throughout Scotland.

All of this creativity is part of a 30-year £1 billion master plan to regenerate and reconnect the waterfront to Dundee's city centre Dundee is Scotland's fourth largest city and has come a long way since the 13th century when its status was that of a small seaport. Although it was thereafter reknowned for its ‘Jute, Jam and Journalism’, the Dundee of the 21st century has harnessed a booming digital entertainment industry and seeded two universities.

From Dundee Airport, there are now flights to London City Airport, Birmingham International Airport and Belfast City. However, no essay on Dundee would be complete without at least a brief mention of the stormy night in 1879 when a passenger train crossing an original bridge over the River Tay was swept away by a freak wave.

Today, the shores of Dundee and nothern Fife are connected by a second and infinitely more stable Tay Rail Bridge dating from 1887, and a fine Tay Road Bridge, which opened for traffic in 1966.

In recent years, the city has spawned a vibrant cultural life, to some extent brought on by the large numbers of students to be found living in the centre. It is home to Scotland's only full-time repertory theatre company, established in the 1930s, and it is also the base for the Scottish Dance Theatre. The Caird Hall, named after James Key Caird, a local Jute baron, is the city's principal concert auditorium, and at the nearby Dundee Contemporary Arts are to be found an art gallery and an art-house cinema. The Duncan of Jordanston College of Art and Design is ranked as one of the top schools of its kind.

A few historic buildings also deserve mention, notably St Mary's Tower, which dates to the late 15th century; St Clements Church, dating to 1787-8 and built by Samuel Bell; Old St Paul's and St David's Church, built in 1841-2 by William Burn, and St Mary's Church, rebuilt after a fire in 1844, also by Burn.

The Gothic Revival Episcopal Cathedral of St Paul's was erected by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1853 on the former site of the medieval Dundee Castle which was situated in the High Street.

Mains Castle in Caird Park was built by David Graham in 1562 on the site of an earlier hunting lodge of 1460. Dudhope Castle, originally the seat of the Scrymgeour family, dates to the late 16th century and was built on the site of earlier keep dating from 1460. Claypotts Castle is a striking Z-plan castle in West Ferry, built by John Strachan between1569-1588, and the ruins of Powrie Castle, north of Fintry, largely destroyed during the Rough Wooing period, also date from the 16th century.

Camperdown Park with its wildlife centre and recreational facilities, occupies the grounds of Camperdown House, the largest “Greek Revival” house still standing in Scotland.

The Camperdown estate, which consisted of 400 acres, was owned by the Haldane-Duncan family among whose numbers was Admiral Adam Duncan who commanded the British Royal Navy and dispersed the gathered Dutch fleet at the Battle of Camperdown in 1797.

He was rewarded by being made Viscount Duncan, and his son, who commissioned William Burn to build the existing mansionhouse, was created first Earl of Camperdown. After the death of the fourth Earl, the earldom became extinct and in 1946, the estate was sold to the Corporation of Dundee.

It is currently managed by Dundee City Council and the ground floor rooms have been restored to house an exhibition on Dundee's maritime history.

North of Dundee, the A90 continues its path towards the Granite City of Aberdeen through Forfar and Brechin, while the River Tay coastal road, the A92, travels on to Broughty Ferry, Carnoustie, Arbroath and Montrose.

Broughty Ferry is the fashionable suburb of Dundee on the shores of the Firth of Tay. In 1943, a Broughty Ferry pigeon called “Winkie” was awarded the Dickin Medal for "delivering a message under exceptional difficulties and so contributing to the rescue of an Air Crew while serving with the RAF in February 1942".

The small seaside town of Carnoustie is synonymous with the golf that has been played on the Barry Links since the 16th century. A 10-hole course was laid out in 1850, and 17 years later was improved by Thomas Mitchell Morris, otherwise known as Old Tom Morris. Since 1931, Carnousite Golf Links has been one of the chosen venues of the rotating Open Championship in Britain. Along with the Old Course at St Andrews and Kingsbarns, it is one of the three host courses of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Arbroath Abbey was founded by William the Lion in 1178, and it was dedicated to Saint Thomas Becket. King William was buried here in 1214, but the abbey is more famous for hosting a meeting of the Scottish Parliament in 1320 and the subsequent proclamation sent to Pope John XXII known as the Declaration of Arbroath. This details the various services which their "lord and sovereign" Robert the Bruce had rendered to Scotland and the resolute decision that all Scots should be free from the domination of England.

In more recent times, Arbroath was to prosper as a centre for the North Sea fishing industry, celebrated for its Arbooath Smokie, a form of smoked haddock.

Inland, Brechin Cathedral, with its 11th century round tower, has been much altered through time, but it still contains medieval work from the 13th and 14th centuries, a handsome western tower and processional door. Brechin Castle is the home of the Earl & Countess of Dalhousie, and the lands here have been owned by the Maule-Ramsay family since the twelfth century, with the castle being occupied by Clan Maule since medieval times.

The Maule and Ramsay clans were joined under a single chieftain in the 18th century, and the seat of the Ramsay clan was moved from Dalhousie castle in Midlothian to Brechin Castle in the early years of the 20th century.

On the outskirts of the town, beside the A90, there is the Pictavia Visitors Centre which celebrates Pictish culture and displays several carved stones. There is a small museum in the former Town House, and the Caledonian Railway at the station here is an Award Winning Tourist attraction. In ancient times, Montrose, with its two square mile tidal lagoon (Montrose Basin), was repeatedly attacked by Viking longboats plundering the Scottish coastline, but it eventually emerged as an important trading port serving the European continent.

In 1512, Castlehead was the birthplace of the legendary James Graham, first Marquis of Montrose , who signed the National Covenant against Charles I's reorganisation of the Church of Scotland, but later switched sides to support Charles II, only to be captured and executed for his loyalty.

In 1715, James Francis Stuart, known as The Old Pretender, landed in Montrose to add his weight to the second Jacobite Uprising, but rapidly retreated to France. The town was later held for his son Bonnie Prince Charlie and in 1746, the largest naval battle of that conflict was fought in Montrose Harbour.

WHERE TO STAY

Corner Hotel, Carnoustie
Small hotel popular with golfers and walkers. Charmingly old-fashioned and extremely welcoming.
Tel: +44 (0)1241 856 291
www.carnoustiecornerhotel.com

Duntrune House, Duntrune
Bed and breakfast ideally located just five miles outside of Dundee. Beautiful historic house and gardens with excellent food and service. Highly recommended.
Tel +44 (0)1382 350 239
www.duntrunehouse.co.uk

Edzell Gatehouse, Edzell
Quaint little cottage tucked away one mile outside Edzell. One double bedroom and a twin, with all the mod-cons needed for an excellent self-catering holiday.
Tel: +44 (0)1315 501 180
www.mackays-self-catering.co.uk

Glen Clova Hotel, Milton of Clova
Country house hotel with informal appeal. Choose from classic fourposter accommodation or one of the self-catering lodges or bunkhouse.
Tel: +44 (0)1575 550 350
www.clova.com

Park Hotel, Montrose
Large hotel offering 57 rooms, bar, restaurant and room service, located in the quiet mid-links area of town.
Tel: +44 (0)1674 663 400
www.parkmontrose.com

Premier Inn, Dundee
There are two of these budget hotels in the city, each offering clean, comfortable rooms. No frills but fantastic value for money with options from £29.
Tel: +44 (0)871 527 8326
www.premierinn.com/dundee

Falls of Holm, Kirrimuir
Dinner, bed and breakfast at a working sheep farm. Rooms are clean and spacious and extremely good value.
Tel: +44 (0)1575 575 867
www.fallsofholm.com

The Hotel Broughty Ferry, Broughty Ferry
Lovely friendly hotel with pool facilities and a gym. Clean comfortable rooms, friendly staff and a good restaurant.
Tel: +44 (0)1382 480 027
www.hotelbroughtyferry.co.uk

The Old Vicarage B&B, Arbroath
Five star bed and breakfast within an imposing former manse. Your hosts Loris and Mike are both welcoming and keen to help make your stay trouble-free.
Tel: +44 (0)1241 430 475
www.theoldvicaragebandb.co.uk

The Landmark Dundee, Dundee
Luxury spa hotel with four star service and an AA rosette for dining.
Tel: +44 (0)1382 641 122
www.thelandmarkdundee.co.uk

WHERE TO VISIT

Arbroath Abbey, Abbey Street, Arbroath
Founded by William the Lion in 1178, these holy ruins hold a very special place in Scottish history. The surviving fragments provide an opportunity to experience one of what was once one of the greatest monastic communities in Scotland.
Tel: +44 (0)1241 878 756
www.historic-scotland.gov.uk

Blair Castle, Pitlochry
There are more than 30 rooms to explore in this dramatic, whitepainted mansion, with exhibits representing life at the Castle from the 1500s to the present day.
Tel: +44 (0)1796 481 207
www.blair-castle.co.uk

Mills Observatory, Balgay Park, Dundee
Discover the wonders of the universe at Britain’s only full-time public observatory – built with the sole aim of encouraging public understanding of science and gifted to the people of Dundee in 1935.
Tel: +44 (0)1382 435 967

Glamis Castle, Glamis
A stunning historical and architectural treasure, home to the Earls of Strathmore for more than 600 years. The extensive grounds feature some beautifully laid out and tended gardens.
Tel: +44 (0)1307 840 393
www.glamis-castle.co.uk

Discovery Point & RRS Discovery, Discovery Quay
Come face to face with Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton at this awardwinning attraction and museum telling the story of the famous Royal Research Ship and its numerous Antarctic journeys.
Tel: +44 (0)1382 201 245
www.rrsdiscovery.com

Angus Folk Museum, Glamis
A charming and informative museum dedicated to domesticity and housed in six 18th century cottages, while the agricultural collection illustrates the changes during the last 200 years.
Tel: +44 (0)844 493 2141
www.nts.org.uk

Montrose Basin Wildlife Centr,e Rossie Braes
A haven for vast numbers of migrating birds. In the viewing gallery there are binoculars, telescopes and interactive displays to give you the very best view.
Tel: +44 (0)1674 676 336
www.swt.org.uk

Pictavia Visitor Centre, Haughmuir, Brechin
Crammed full of exhibits and artefacts, it reveals the lives of some of Scotland’s oldest inhabitants.
Tel: +44 (0)1356 626 241
www.pictavia.org.uk

Scone Palace, Scone
A beautiful ivy-clad castle, and crowning place of ancient Scottish kings. Magnificent rooms are filled with art and furniture, and there are plenty of woodland walks, shops and restaurants to fill your day.
Tel: +44 (0)1738 552 300
www.scone-palace.co.uk

The Famous Grouse Experience, Crieff
Explore the production of whisky at this award-winning visitor centre, with guided tours, free tastings, restaurant and retail outlet.
Tel: +44 (0)1764 656 565
www.thefamousgrouse.com

Verdant Works, West Henderson’s Wynd, Dundee
Discover how the people of Dundee lived, worked and played more than 100 years ago.
Tel: +44 (0)1382 225 282
www.verdantworks.com

WHERE TO EAT

Gordon’s Restaurant, Inverkeilor
Family-run restaurant offering a warm welcome and a plethora of awards for fine dining.
Tel: +44 (0)1241 830 364
www.gordonsrestaurant.co.uk

The But ‘n’ Ben, Auchmithie
Lovely little restaurant offering local seafood (including the famous Arbroath Smokies) as well as beef, venison and game. The sweet trolley is a triumph!
Tel: +44 (0)1241 877 223
www.butnbenauchmithie.co.uk

Jessie’s Kitchen, Broughty Ferry
Lovely kitsch café offering delightful cakes and coffee. Kid friendly.
Tel: +44 (0)1382 778 488
Jessieskitchen.blogspot.co.uk

Sugar and Spice, Arbroath
Lovely traditional café serving light lunches and sweets.
Tel: +44 (0)1241 437 500

The Colliston Inn, Arbroath
The Careml Coffee Shop (no, that’s not a typo!) is light and spacious, and comes highly recommended for local homebakes, hearty soups and sandwiches.
Tel: +44 (0)1241 890 232
www.thecollistoninn.co.uk

The Pear Tree Restaurant, Auchterhouse
Charming wood-panelled country restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch dinner and high tea!
Tel: +44 (0)1382 320 266
www.peartreerestaurant.co.uk

The Ship Inn & Waterfront Restaurant, Broughty Ferry
Welcoming bar on the ground floor with restaurant upstairs for longer meals. Lovely views over the delightful River Tay.
Tel: +44 (0)1382 779 176
www.theshipinn-broughtferry.co.uk

The Tuck Inn, Edzell
Small café restaurant that prides itself on its traditional home cooking and value for money.
Tel: +44 (0)1356 648 262
www.tuckinnedzell.co.uk

The Blue Marlin, Dundee
Stylish seafood restaurant serving lunch and dinner, Monday-Saturday.
Tel: +44 (0)1382 221 397
www.thebluemarlin.co.uk

Rosie’s Bakehouse, Brechin
Coffee shop on the town’s historic high street. Friendly staff, nice décor and a changing daily menu combine to attract a loyal following.
Tel: +44 (0)1356 625 254