St Cyrus National Nature Reserve
Situated at the mouth of the River North Esk, the natural barriers of inland cliffs and sand dunes protect the grasslands of the St Cyrus NNR from the weather, creating an oasis of warmth on the Aberdeenshire coast. More than 300 different plant species are recorded here with many, such as the delicate pink flowers of night-scented Nottingham catchfly, at their northern limit.Others such as clustered bellflower,meadow saxifrage and hairy violet are more common on chalk and limestone soils in southern and eastern England, but they grow here thanks to the fertile volcanic soils. The abundance of plants encourages insects, including all four of Scotland’s grasshopper species, and in their turn they attract large numbers of insect-eating birds, such as stonechats, yellowhammers and whitethroats. Common lizards can also frequently be seen basking among the sand dunes.
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About The area
Visitors to Aberdeenshire with any kind of interest in history are in for a treat. There are more castles to the acre in Aberdeenshire than anywhere else in Britain. They range from evocative ruins to lonely tower houses, from well-kept baronial strongholds to royal palaces. Four notable castles worth factoring into your itinerary are Dunnottar, Fyvie, Huntly and Tolquhon.
At Buchan Ness you’ll find yourself at the easternmost point of Scotland. From here you can follow the coast further down this stunning north-east shoulder of Scotland south to Peterhead, once an important whaling community. Beyond it is Aberdeen, where the eastern spur of the Grampians gives way to the North Sea, and two famous salmon rivers, the Don and the Dee, reach the end of their spectacular journey.
Heading west out of Scotland’s granite city, you are soon in a magical world of heather moorland, rolling hills and densely wooded valleys, cut by meandering rivers and picturesque lochs. It is here that you can discover the staggering number of castles and ancient strongholds. However, it’s not all palaces and ruins. Bottlenose dolphins are an everyday sight in the Moray Firth and off the Aberdeenshire coast so grab your binoculars and head to the shores.
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