Johnshaven to Inverbervie

By Colin Hogarth

The charming coastal village of Johnshaven is the starting point for a gentle wander up the coast through old fishing communities to Inverbervie. Along the way, the route passes through the harbour town of Gourdon where an inn on the pier with a beer garden makes a pleasant spot for a midway break and some refreshment.

Set off from the harbour in Johnshaven, where a handful of small pleasure craft now take the place of the once thriving fishing fleet. There are still some working boats based here, but nothing on the scale seen during the heyday of the industry.

Head north-east along the shore road between neat cottages and sheds to emerge on to the coast at a small landscaped area of seating. Stay with the road as it leaves the village and passes by the front of a caravan park and, at the end of the asphalt, a wooden gate is reached. Down to the right there are some pleasant strips of beach, ideal for a spot of sun worshiping in the summer.

The track continues from here up the coast, running below the grounds of Lathallen School and then follows a high stone wall past a small encampment and, beyond this, open fields where the local farmer often keeps pigs.

After crossing a wooden footbridge over the burn at Haughs Bay, the way arrives at a couple of seafront cottages at Haughs of Benholm. Carry straight on along the front of these idyllically situated properties, following a wide grassy track. This runs between open fields on the left and a wide plain of scrubland, beyond which is a rocky beach, and then the sea. The main A92 coast road is located on the hillside up to the left, but the rush of traffic is a world away and does not impede on the peace and quiet of the coast.

The track draws closer to the shoreline as Gourdon is approached. It skirts between the beach on one side and a row of cottages on the other to reach Gourdon harbour, another haven from the ocean now used predominantly by yachts, pleasure craft and small creel fishing boats. Like Johnshaven and many other towns on the Angus and Mearns coast, Gourdon was built on the fishing industry. However, over the years the number of working boats has dwindled, with most of the North Sea catches now being landed in the larger north-east ports, like Peterhead and Fraserburgh. Johnshaven and Gourdon were unusual in that they originally employed line rather than net fishing techniques.

From the harbour, the route twists through a narrow street of cottages and sheds, passing below newer houses and a park to emerge into open country again at Horse Crook Bay.

Follow the track round the coast to Bervie Bay, a mile on, and stretching up the slope behind the sheltered cove, Inverbervie. From the bay, the road leads up to the town's main thoroughfare, spread out along the A92.


Distance 5 miles/8km
Map OS Landranger sheet 45.
Start/parking Johnshaven harbour. GR: NO 796670.
Grading An easy, low level coastal walk suitable for all ages and abilities. This is a linear walk and there's a regular bus service for the return to Johnshaven.
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