Fishy business

By James Carron

This is a coastal walk with a difference. For it boasts the grave of a man who apparently died 19 years before he was even born. George James Ramsay is the man with the unusual distinction, imposed upon him after his death. When he was buried in the tiny cliff-top cemetery just north of Boddin Point an error was obviously made on the headstone. Beneath 'In Memory of George James Ramsay' the inscription on the sea-facing stone reads: 'Born November 24, 1859, Died December 17, 1840'.

How it happened and why the memorial was never altered is a mystery. But it forms a fascinating part of a walk along the coast from Boddin to Ferryden, near Montrose. The route makes an ideal afternoon stroll for walkers of all abilities. On a clear day the views out to sea and along the coast are tremendous.

A grassy track skirts left just before the last house at the end of the public road. It follows a stone wall north east then continues along behind a white cottage and some ruins. The way can be fairly overgrown here and the tall grass may play havoc with hayfever sufferers in the summer. The path soon curves left to emerge from the plantlife at a small cemetery perched on the cliff top above the Elephant Rock, so called because of its shape.

The cemetery is worth a visit just to see George Ramsay's headstone. To reach it, enter the graveyard, turn right at a railed enclosure, pass two headstones and it is the next one, facing out to sea. Leave the cemetery and walk a few yards north on the track towards the railway line. Cross a stone stile built into the wall on the right and follow the edge of the field along above the coast.

Rejoin the foreshore around Black Craig - there are a couple of stiles to chose from - and a path continues on through a kissing gate to the beach below Usan where small fishing craft sit in a sheltered natural harbour, their nets hung out to dry above the shore. Although the original heart of this tiny hamlet - a row of cottages and tower - lies derelict, other cottages remain in use and there are a couple of newer houses.

Stay on the beach and skirt round the coast, negotiating a couple of rocks before the route continues over a wide open grassy field dotted with yellow flowers. The edge of the field borders the foreshore up to and beyond a wall where a stone stile by a gate leads into the next field. Seabirds to be seen on the rocks include oystercatchers, gulls, gannets and shags.

The route approaches ruined buildings below Mains of Usan Farm. Go between then, through a rusty white gate, and head up towards the main farm buildings, then go right below the barns to follow a track along the edge of the next field. Beyond this the path continues round a wide bay to the lighthouse at Scurdie Ness. Head west along the single track road into Ferryden and follow William Street into the centre of the village, passing a shop and two pubs, then continue past public toilets and the harbour.

Take the road on the left signed to Craig, Usan and Lunan. There is a BT telephone box and postbox at the junction. It rises up past houses and a park, crossing the railway line before going by a water supply plant and the farm at Barns of Craig. Beyond Balkielle farm at a stone archway, turn left on the road signed for Boddin and head south by a beech hedge to Dunninald Castle. The road passes the castle gate and skirts right, leading to the minor road down to Boddin. As you descend, crossing the railway line once again, there are great views south to the sandy beach at Lunan. At the end pay a visit to the old lime kiln on Boddin Point, a fine place for a picnic on a sunny day.


Distance 6 miles/10km.
Map OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 54.
Start Boddin, grid ref NO 713535.
Parking Limited space on the track at the start.
Grading Coastal path, some sections overgrown, and quiet country roads. Suitable for all, although some agility is required on a couple of coastal sections. Grazing in parts so dogs on lead.

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