Tourist Information in Aberdeenshire
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Cruden Bay Town Information




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The Beach at Cruden Bay - Photo © Richard Slessor
The Beach at Cruden Bay
Photo: Richard Slessor CCL

 

Cruden Bay is a pretty coastal village with a fine small fishing harbour, good beaches and dunes, a championship golf course and, curiously, the echo of a vampire!

The peaceful beach scene opposite gives little indication of the activity that once was there.

In 1012, Cruden Bay was the site of a battle in which the Danes were defeated by the Scots and the name of the village is said to come from the Gaelic  for "Slaughter of Danes".
Just north of what is now Cruden Bay, the Earls of Errol built a castle around the late 16th century. This was modified and added to but was virtually rebuilt in 1836. Perched right on the cliff edge it is very dramatic and must have been a magnificent place when at the height of its grandeur.

It was here that in the late 19th century the 19th Earl of Errol entertained many dignitaries including the author, Bram Stoker, who is said to have been inspired by the castle when writing his Dracula novels. He stayed at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel in Cruden Bay and the present owners now have the original visitors' book containing his signature.

slain
Slains Castle - Photo: Louise Johnson

 

As is often the case with legislation, laws can have a negative effect. A building was taxable but a structure with no roof is not a building and is therefore not subject to tax. The castle and its contents had been sold in 1916 but when the new owner, Sir John Ellerman gave it up in 1920, its roof was removed to avoid tax and the building fell into decay. What a waste!

The Victorian era saw a great expansion which brought prosperity to Cruden Bay. In 1897 a railway branch line of the Great North of Scotland Railway Company was opened from Ellon to Boddam, and within a couple of years was built the golf course and a spectacular hotel (linked by its own tramway to the railway station). The company promoted Cruden Bay as a holiday destination for the gentry only 12 hours from London. Unfortunately the scheme failed. The railway was closed to passenger traffic in 1932, the hotel was requisitioned as an army hospital in 1939 and, although the railway had continued to be used for freight, it was eventually closed in 1945. All across the area visitors can see remains of the trackbed and bridges of this now defunct railway as it winds its way across the countryside.

The golf course, however, still survives and thrives.

Another claim to fame is that it was from here in June 1914 that the first flight across the North Sea started. Tryggve Gran, a 26 year old Norwegion serving as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps was determined to be the first to cross the North Sea from Scotland to Stavanger. He decided to fly from nearby Nethermill because there were many steamship routes between Peterhead and Stavanger. He thought that, should he get into difficulties and have to ditch in the sea, he would have a good chance of being picked up. The onset of the First World War meant that all civilian flights were to be banned from 6pm on 30th July so at 8am he set off in his plane "Ca Flotte", purchased from Louis Bleriot, but was forced back by fog to land on Cruden Bay beach. Eventually he took off and achieved his aim. A small memorial stands in the village.

Today, Cruden Bay attracts tourists. It has some small hotels and guesthouses, its well-known golf course, its magnificent long sandy beach and the small harbour area, more correctly called Port Erroll which is now home to just a few small fishing boats. Even in the height of summer the beach is uncrowded and there is no sign whatsoever of its biggest hidden secret. It was here beneath the sands of Cruden Bay, that the first North Sea Oil pipeline was laid to bring crude oil from the Forties field ashore. From here it is piped by underground pipeline to Grangemouth refinery. 

Bullers of Buchan - Photo: Lynette Johnson
BULLERS OF BUCHAN - Natural arch & sea caves

Just north of Cruden Bay is the spectacular Bullers of Buchan, an immense rock amphitheatre caused by a collapsed cavern and further carved out by the sea.

It is close to the road, easily accessible on foot (though not with a wheelchair) and not to be missed. Care should be taken as it can be dangerous for children and animals.