Coastal Walk: Gardenstown to Pennan (via Troup Head)
Date: Sunday 13th April 2014
Company: Just myself
Distance: 20.5km, Ascent: 1005m
Time: 5Hrs 45Mins

Inspired by a Troup Head report on Walk Highlands, I decided today to walk a section of my local coastline from Gardenstown to Pennan, via Troup Head.

Instead of following this section of Aberdeenshire "coastal trail”, which is mostly walking along a road that is quite a way away from the coast, I opted to stick as close to the coast as possible. This route involved climbing over several gates, climbing over several barbed-wire fences and following a route along the edge of cliffs. Not really suitable for children and dogs.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I parked in Gardenstown (which is known locally as Gamrie) in a small parking area beside the waste recycling bins. From the parking area I set off along the coast.

At the beginning of the coastal path between Gardenstown and Crovie, I saw a sign advising that the coastal path was closed. I ignored this sign as I was fairly sure I could bypass any obstacles.

Coastal path from Gardenstown to Crovie:

Coastal path from Gardenstown to Crovie:

Looking towards Crovie from coastal path:

Looking back at conglomerate rock:

As I approached Crovie, I could see why the coastal path was closed. A section of the path is eroding into the sea.

On reaching Crovie (pronounced Crivvy) I walked along the length of the small village. The row of houses is right next to the sea. These houses must get battered by waves in stormy weather.


Looking back from Crovie:

On reaching the final house in Crovie, I returned back along the village and then ascended a set of wide steps up a small hill to reach the road above.

Ascent from Crovie:

I followed the road for several hundred metres before passing through an open gate to then follow the cliff-top fenceline.

Looking back to Crovie and Gardenstown from cliff top:

I initially walked along the cliff-side of the fenceline. On reaching an open gate leading into the field I subsequently walked along the field side of the fenceline (definitely safer).

Following the fenceline along the cliff top:

Looking back to Gardenstown, More Head and beyond:

If following the fenceline from Crovie to Troup Head there are several gates to climb over and only one barbed-wire fence.

Looking towards Collie Head:

Troup Head was fairly obvious from quite a distance away owing to being covered by white gannets.

Looking towards Troup Head:

Troup Head (full zoom):

I stuck right to the edge of the cliffs all the way to Troup Head. I did however leave the cliff edge briefly to visit the trig point. From the trig point I returned to the cliff edge and then climbed over the barbed-wire fence to get onto the RSPB clifftop path. Troup Head is an RSPB reserve.

At the Troup Head trig point:

I spent five to ten minutes at Troup Head taking photos of gannets. It was however very windy up there today so I had to be careful while close to the cliff edge.

Gannet at Troup Head:

Gannet at Troup Head:

Gannet at Troup Head:

Close to the RSPB viewpoint there is a CCTV/webcam and also several abseil stakes above the cliff.

Troup Head viewpoint:

After gannet-spotting, I followed the RSPB path along the cliff edge and beyond again following the coastline as closely as possible.
Gannets on Troup Head cliffs:

Looking along the coast towards Lion’s Head and Pennan Head:

On reaching Downie Bay, I had to divert back inland to avoid a deep gully. Looking across Downie Bay I could see evidence of a recent landslip.

Downie Bay:

Once around the gully, I returned to the coastline.

Looking back to Troup Head:

The walk towards Lion’s Head and beyond involved climbing over several barbed-wire fences.

Lion’s Head:

Beyond Lion’s Head, I decided to visit Hell’s Lum cave. This was definitely worth a visit.

Hell’s Lum:

Hell’s Lum:

Looking back towards Lion’s Head:

Looking towards Pennan:

Pennan (zoom):

After crossing a nice burn, I followed a wooden path down to the coast.

Cullykhan Bay:

Track beyond Cullykhan Bay:

After then ascending back to the cliff-edge, I again then descended back to the coast beside the house in the next photo.

Cullykhan Bay:

Looking back towards Cullykhan Bay:

For the final few hundred metres of coast before Pennan, I had to return to the road. I followed the road for the final ¼ mile down to Pennan.

Onto the road for the final descent to Pennan:

On reaching Pennan, I walked along the length of Pennan from end to end.



I then had a nice lunch in the Pennan Inn (Local Hero pub).

Pennan Inn & Red Phone Box:

Lunch at the Pennan Inn:

On looking at my GPS whilst in the pub, I was surprised to find that I had already walked 13.5km. The walk back along the road from Pennan to Gardenstown was a further 7km. The difference shows how much extra walking is undertaken if following the coastline round all the little inlets. What was even more surprising was that by the time I got back to Gardenstown, I had ascended over 1000m. This wee coastal walk was as hard as many a hillwalk. An enjoyable day out.