Fourteen miles south of Stonehaven, just off the main A90 is Laurencekirk. A few miles east, off the tiny B9120, is the Hill of Garvock (908ft), which gives great views over the Howe of the Mearns. It is topped by the Tower of Johnston (which lies up a footpath), built to commemorate Britain's victory over Napoleon in the Peninsula Wars. On the other side of the hill is a depression called the Sheriff's Kettle. Here, at Baileys Farm in 1420, disgruntled local lairds boiled the Sheriff and 'supped the brew'.

 

Fourteen miles south of Stonehaven, just off the main A90 is Laurencekirk. A few miles east, off the tiny B9120, is the Hill of Garvock (908ft), which gives great views over the Howe of the Mearns. It is topped by the Tower of Johnston (which lies up a footpath), built to commemorate Britain's victory over Napoleon in the Peninsula Wars. On the other side of the hill is a depression called the Sheriff's Kettle. Here, at Baileys Farm in 1420, disgruntled local lairds boiled the Sheriff and 'supped the brew'.

Local Sights & Activities for The Howe Of Mearns

Sightseeing

Four miles west of Laurencekirk on the B9120 is the village of Fettercairn, famous for its handsome arch, built in 1861 following a visit from Queen Victoria. A mile west of the village is the distillery, one of the oldest in Scotland, with free guided tours and a 'dram' at the end. May-Sep Mon-Sat 1000-1630.

The village holds its annual Highland Games on the first Saturday in July. They're authentic and the setting is lovely.

A few miles north on the B974 is the 18th-century Fasque House, erstwhile home of four-times British prime minister, William Gladstone. The family still lives in the west wing. Closed at the outbreak of the Second World War and only reopened in the 1970s, the faded grandeur of the place is wonderfully tangible. Though the house is interesting because of its historic connections with the former prime minister, it is also an excellent example of an 'Upstairs-Downstairs' country house and gives a fascinating insight into the lifestyle of a wealthy Victorian landowner. The estate also includes extensive grounds filled with deer. Tel. 01561-340569. May-Sep daily 1100-1730. £3.50, £2.50 concession.

Take your mountain bike in May and enter the Great Drumtochty Challenge

Beyond Fasque the B974 wends its way through rich farming country, with its distinctive red soil, up to the Cairn O' Mount (1,492 ft) and on to Banchory. Before you start the actual steep ascent, the road to the right, over a water splash, leads to the Glen of Drumtochty. This is a delightful detour, ending up in the little town of Auchinblae. Nearby is Drumtochty Castle Stables, Tel. 01561-320082, which sleeps up to four, from £250/350 per week.

If you decide not to divert and feel like some refreshment, park on the left and climb the steps to the Clatterin' Brig restaurant., Tel. 01561-340297. Opened originally by a Bowes-Lyon, kinswoman of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, it is open all year round. When you eventually reach the summit of the Cairn O' Mount, stop for a moment to admire the view. The cairn dates from 2000 BC.

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