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  • Cairnbulg: Postcode AB43
  • Cairnbulg: Latitude 57.6773° N Longitude -1.9369° W
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Cairnbulg, Aberdeenshire, at the east end of Fraserburgh Bay stands Cairnbulg Castle, seat of the Frasers of Philorth, who founded Fraserburgh in the 16th century But their connection with Cairnbulg is much older, it came into the possession of Sir Alexander Fraser in 1375, when he married the daughter of Sir Walter Leslie, Lord of Ross.

Until quite recently it was assumed that this Sir Alexander built the Castle, or rather the oldest part of it, which consists of a rectangular tower 70 ft high, with a smaller square tower of the same height abutted to it.

Some 60 ft south east of the square tower is a lower round tower, built about l545, at the time of the War of the Rough Wooing, for the purpose of protecting the corner of the square tower from gunfire.

Between the round tower and the two rectangular towers stretches the modern main section, largely rebuilt in 1897, when the Castle, which had been abandoned in 1799, was restored by Sir John Duthie, from whose son the 19th Lord Saltoun later bought the ancient home of his family.

But ancient castles are not the only features of interest in this windswept countryside, along the coast, which turns sharply to the south east beyond Cairnbulg Point, are three fishing villages of quite exceptional character; Cairnbulg, lnverallochy, and St Combs, with its tiny satellite hamlet, Charleston.

No more exposed beaches can be imagined than those on which these villages stand.

There is no harbour, and for centuries the fishermen were accustomed to draw their boats up on to the foreshore under the gable-ends of their houses. Most of them now fish from Fraserburgh, of which the three villages might now be regarded as suburbs, save that they retain an individuality and a local tradition that apparently nothing can extinguish.

This individuality expresses itself in a great triple festival, the series of Temperance Walks, led by the Fife and Drum bands, that take place annually at the turn off the year.

They are held on Christmas Day (for lnyerallochy) New Years Day (tor Cairnbulg) and Aul Eel. 5 January (for St Combs).

They arose out of the great temperance movement and religious revival of the 1850s. but they now completely transcend any sectarian significance.

They are in fact great family occasions when the three villages mingle and rejoice in their network of kinship.

An immense transformation of life took place in the villages as a result of the l9th century herring boom. The population increased rapidly, but as late as l850 the villagers continued to live in a collection of rude clay huts with a midden in front of every door.

The men spent several months of each year in the larger herring ports, where their contracts stipulated for the supply of so many gallons of whisky to each crew in addition to the price of the herring.

This rough life was interrupted in the middle of the century by two extremely severe cholera epidemics.

A clean up of conditions became essential if the communities were to survive. It was accomplished with the aid of the temperance revival.

New outlets had to be found for the conviviality of the community, and the temperance walks helped to provide them. At the same time great efforts were made by the small church and 'dame' schools. It was part of the compulsory curriculum that pupils had to wash themselves at the village pumps every day.

The villages of Inverallochy and Cairnbulg lie some four miles east of Fraserburgh, in North East Scotland. The twin villages together form a wonderfully atmospheric place, on a day with clear blue skies the quiet streets, narrow alleys, and rows of cottages can easily carry you back to a very different time when every cottage had a boat pulled up, and the entire community made use of the seashore.

Cairnbulg harbour, built in the 1920s as a single pier, was developed in the early 1980s using WW2 tank traps to create an enclosed harbour basin.

Today leisure craft use the tidal harbour at west haven half a mile to the west of the village and overlooking Fraserburgh Bay.

Here you can find both sandy beach and rocky sections on the short stretch of coast between the two, but south from St Combs stretches of sand dunes and beach have been described as one of the best in the country, extending the ten miles past Rattray Head.

Cairnbulg Castle, one of The Nine Castles of Knuckle, originally dated to the 13th century and parts of the current construction are believed to date to an earlier period it was a stronghold of the Comyns, but was given by Robert the Bruce to the Earls of Ross in 1316, by 1780 both towers were in a ruinous condition, and the building in between a ruin.

In 1863 the ruin was bought by Sir John Duthie, and restored the Castle using granite from his wife's tocher (dowry ) from her father who was a stone merchant, today their initials and motto are over the present front door.

From here there are great roads, great places to visit with majestic glens, forests, and colourful fishing villages for motorcycle destinations riding in a day.

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