Tuesday, 20 December 2011

MUCHALLS

It's been a while since I last told a ghost story, so as we come to the darkest part of the year it seems like a good time for another one. The story behind the Green Lady of Muchalls Castle is a very sad one so get the tissues ready. The area was rife with smuggling in the old days, and the castle had a tunnel leading down to a cave on Muchalls Beach which was used to store spirits and wine brought in by smugglers. A young woman from the castle was having a bit of a romance with one of the smugglers, and one day she ran down to the tunnel to greet his return, forgetting that it was high tide and the tunnel was prone to flooding at high tide. The poor lady drowned before she had a chance to keep her tryst, and her ghost is said to haunt the castle's drawing room, where she parades up and down with a brush in her hand, getting herself ready for the rendezvous that would never be.

There is much more to Muchalls Castle's past than smuggling. One of the most notable events in its history was in 1638 when a gathering of Covenanters (Scottish Presbyterians) took place here in the run up to the English Civil War. During Victorian times, Muchalls was a popular health resort, with a golf course and a railway station, now gone although the line still runs through here. One of its most distinguished visitors was Charles Dickens, who sang its praises as a beautiful place to visit. Robert Burns was moved to describe the area as "a good deal romantic", and not without reason, as the coast around here is a spectacular mix of soaring cliffs formed from pre-Cambrian rock, sea stacks and rugged headlands such as Grim Brigs and Doonie Point.

A short distance up the coast from Muchalls is the larger settlement of Newtonhill, a clifftop fishing village with cottages and fishermen's huts. The Burn of Elsick flows into the North Sea here, and there is a circular walk which takes in a plank bridge over the Burn. The Braehead is a good place for walkers to rest and enjoy the views of the bay or watch out for the wildlife of the area which, as well as a variety of sea birds, includes occasional sightings of seals, dolphins or even whales.

Map of the area.

'Newtonhill Beach' photo (c) 2006, tom hartley - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

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