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Chapter 8. - The Coast Line

The coast-line of Forfarshire, about 37 miles in length, presents great variety of feature—alluvial shores, sands, cliffs and raised beaches.

The Carse of Gowrie, for example, at the eastern extremity of which we may begin our peregrination, is the levelled terrace of the 50 feet raised beach, now turned into rich alluvial land. At Dundee the lower parts of the town are built on the 25 feet beach. On platforms of the same height rest the blown sands of Barry, Carnoustie, and Montrose. The 100 feet beach can be well seen at Barry, Arbroath, and Montrose.

Between Dundee and Broughty Ferry, interesting primeval deposits have been unearthed at Stannergate in the form of “kitchen-middens”—the refuse heap of some primitive community. At Broughty Ferry a small rocky promontory juts into the firth and narrows it to about the breadth of a mile.

Below Broughty Ferry the Lady Bank runs out to a sharp spit of sand and forms one side of the small estuary of the Dighty. On the landward side the Sands of Barry, with two lighthouses, stretch out to Buddon Ness and doubling it extend to Carnoustie. At Buddon the great sand dunes attain an altitude of 95 feet and form the most conspicuous objects on the coast-line. Between the shore-line and the railway is a great expanse of links utilised by the War Office for annual encampments and artillery practice. Close at hand are the golf courses of Monifieth, Barry, and Carnoustie. Farther east West-haven and Easthaven, almost contiguous with each other and with Carnoustie, are picturesque fishing villages. Their shore is characterised by shelving rocks, which again give place to links and sands as Elliot with its golf course and Arbroath are approached.

About a mile beyond the harbour of Arbroath we reach Arbroath Ness, the beginning of the cliffs which render this in many ways the most interesting part of the coast. At the Ness is St Ninian’s holy well, a favourite pilgrim resort in former times. Close by is the site of St Ninian’s—locally St Ringan’s—Chapel. In 1842 a wonderful stalactite cave was accidentally discovered in the Ness Quarry. Farther east is the Needle’s Eye, a curiously perforated rock; and a great ravine, called the Cruzie from its resemblance to an old Scottish lamp. At the Blow Hole the sea waves rise in storms to the height of 150 feet. The Smuggler’s Cave, and Dickman’s or Dickmont’s Den, were in the eighteenth century the haunts of smugglers. The Three Storied House and the Mariners’ Grave are caves with names that tell their own tales. A great shore stack, separated from the adjoining cliff by a passage called Duncan’s Door, and one of the most remarkable pieces of rock scenery on this coast, is variously known as the Deil’s Head and the Pint Stoup. The Masons’ Cave, 231 feet by 12, was long a place of meeting for the St Thomas Lodge of Freemasons. Another is suggestively called The Forbidden Cave, into wh’ch, according to tradition, a piper and his vvife, regardless of the prejudice against entering its precincts, wandered never to return. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring of the Arbroath caves is the Gaylet Pot. This huge cavity, about 100 yards from the sea and in the midst of an arable field, communicates with the ocean by a tunnel 130 feet below the summit of the cliff. When in storm the sea rushes through this subterranean passage and boils in the bottom of the crater-like chasm, it strikes such horror into the beholder as he will long find difficult to rid himself of.

Half a mile beyond is the quaint village of Auchmithie, which disputes with the neighbouring Ethie Haven the distinction of being the “Musselcraig” of Scott’s Antiquary, as does the adjacent Newbarns with Hospitalfield for being the original of the “Monkbarns” in the same novel. Ethie House, near Auchmithie, is by common consent the residence of “Sir Arthur Wardour.” The Red Head, 267 feet high, the most imposing sea cliff in the county, terminates this rocky section of the coast.

We now reach the fine curve of Lunan Bay, the beautiful sands of which stretch for some five miles from the Red Head to Boddin Point, where cliff's again occur. Between this and Scurdie Ness at the mouth of the South Esk there is to be seen on the shore the huge mass of the rock of St Skeoch, called also the Elephant Rock from its striking resemblance to that animal. High above on the cliff is that most romantic of burial-places, the little churchyard of St Skeoch. The shore of Usan Bay is strewn with rugged masses of rock. Round Scurdie Ness and within the estuary of the South Esk is the prosperous fishing village of Ferryden, opposite Montrose. Beyond the river a long line of fine sands, flanked by the famous golf links of Montrose, extends to the mouth of the North Esk, where the coast-line of the county terminates.

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