Coastal Features and Names

Map of Coastal Features and Names

Click on the map to see a 19th century Ordnance Survey map of the same area

One suggestion for the name “Bullers” is that it has been derived from the French “Bouillir”, meaning “to boil”, as the water in the pot appears to boil during stormy weather.

Another explanation suggests that the word is an old Scots word meaning “rushing of water”, which sounds more likely – the sound made by the waves crashing in through the archway opening into the pot, perhaps.

It’s not the only unusual word used to describe the coastal features hereabouts, as can be seen on the map here.

See below for more information on a few of the formations shown on the map.

The Camels’s Back

Aerial view of The Camel’s Back © Copyright Kenbarry Photography

Although not so named on the maps, the promontory between the Bullers bay and Robie’s Haven is locally known as “The Camel’s Back”, for obvious reasons as you can see from the picture.

In recent years the steep grassy slopes along the Camel’s Back have become very popular with nesting Puffins, and lots of them can be seen here outside their burrows on fine spring evenings – and I know Puffins are very popular, but please, DO NOT walk out along the ridge; the grass is slippery and the sea  is 100ft down, both sides.

The Bow of Pitwartlachie

The Bow from the cliff top opposite

The arch over the tunnel you can see passing through the Camel’s Back in the aerial photograph has the full name of “The Bow of Pitwartlachie”, and is described in the Old Statistical Account (1791-99) as “a grand arch to which the kitty-weaks resort”, as indeed they still do, though who or what “Pitwartlachie” is I do not know.

The Bow is best viewed from the opposite cliff top, across Robie’s Haven, towards the “Step of Arthur Fowlie”; see picture left. You can also see Puffins along this cliff top, and from a lot safer position than on the Camel’s Back – at least the drop here is only on one side.

I have no idea who Arthur Fowlie was, or what his busks may be. Don’t know Robie either.

The Rumblin’ Hole (“Hell’s Lum”)

Hell’s Lum

Further along and just back from the edge, the Rumblin’ Hole (“Hell’s Lum”) is a crack in the top of the cliff; it’s sealed by rocks and quite safe, but beneath it there must be another sea cave (a new pot in the making?), for when the sea is rough the sound of waves crashing can be heard from under the ground here, and if the sea is very rough a fine spray can be seen to emerge from the crack.

The Arch and the Rock of Dunbuy

The Rock of Dunbuy

Further along still, south of the Cave of Raplin and just off the map above, there is a rocky island referred to in the Old Statistical Account (1791-99) as “The rock of Dunbuy, to which the migratory birds resort, and in which there is one of the most magnificent arches upon the coast, is surrounded by the sea, and at no time can be got at, but by a boat”. As you’re walking along, it almost appears that you should be able to get down onto it, but in fact the cliff ends very precipitately; the Dunbuy is an island.

The flat top of the Dunbuy is a favourite nesting ground for colonies of Herring Gulls, plus a few Greater Black Back Gulls. Some extremely bold Puffins choose burrows on its slopes, but with so many Gulls I would think this a rather hazardous home;  Gulls commonly attack Puffins carrying food to their chicks and force them to drop it. But it must work or they wouldn’t do it I suppose…

Slains Castle

Slains Castle

Somewhat further south toward Cruden Bay, you will arrive at Slains Castle.  The “castle” is really more of a large country house, now ruined, and is perched on top of the cliffs directly facing the sea.  It is said that Bram Stoker stayed here and used it as his inspiration for the story of Dracula;  it was also visited by Boswell and Johnson in 1773, and spoken of in their writings.

It used to be that you could wander around in the castle, but more recently (2007) it was fenced off with a view to proposed development;  I don’t know what the position is nowadays as I haven’t been there for some time.