Home of the deep-fried Mars bar, and the only place to be come Hogmanay
What’s going for it? Of all the shenanigans at Hogmanay, none, I suspect, is more riotous than Stonehaven’s. This is a town that lives for 31 December, when, as midnight approaches, its citizens take to the streets swirling chains with giant fireballs at the end. As you do. Something to do with purifying the soul, or tempting out the sun, an infrequent visitor to northern Scotland in midwinter. Now, I know what you’re thinking: fireballs, alcohol and the traditional Hogmanay gift of coal… An interesting combination. It has not been unknown for the odd spark-induced hole to appear on manmade fibres. But Stonehaven chaps have sharp minds. The fireballs are triumphantly doused in the harbour at the end of the night before the real jamboree begins. In any case, they know what they’re doing with the application of fire. This is the town, after all, where the deep-fried Mars bar was invented, and for that we salute them. They make the most of everything round here.
The case against Cold, of course, and dark at this time of year, but this is northern Scotland. What do you expect?
Well connected? Trains: 20 minutes, twice an hour, to Aberdeen; an hour, twice an hour, to Dundee. Buses to Aberdeen, too (45 minutes, hourly). Driving: 25 minutes to Aberdeen, 70 to Dundee.
Hang out at… The Haven Chip Bar, birthplace of the DFMB is long gone, but its replacement, the Carron, is offering seasonal deep-fried shortbread and clootie dumplings. For dieters, try cullen skink at the Boat House, watching the seals.
Where to buy Much of this handsome town was laid out in the late 18th century on a grid between its two rivers: expect elegant stone town houses, semis and terraces in the centre, especially up towards Baird Park; plenty of post-oil-boom suburbs, too. But the period property is the real boon here. Also, the remnants of the original fishing village and pretty harbour.
Market values Detacheds, £250,000?£430,000. Semis, £180,000-£230,000. Terraces, £140,000-£220,000.
Bargain of the week Charming, three-bed, stone Victorian terrace with a garden, in need of modernisation (though I’d keep the amazing decor); offers over £145,000, with Raeburn, Christie, Clark & Wallace.
From the streets
Mandy Tulloch “Friendly community with proper independent shops. Dunnottar Wines is a great wine store that can get you anything. The harbour and bay is perfect for sea air – if you’re lucky, you’ll see dolphins. And Dunnottar Woods is great for kids. Downside: it could be a couple of degrees warmer.”
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