Tolbooth Museum, Stonehaven
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  GOOD THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN STONEHAVEN
STONEHAVEN HEATED OPEN-AIR POOL
Built in the 1930s and saved from demolition in the 1990s, Stonehaven's wondrous heated open-air pool is something you simply should not miss. The pool has clean sea-water at a temperature of 29°C, so you may do nothing more taxing than standing with your head above water luxuriating in the warmth. Heated open-air pools are almost unheard of in Scotland. This one is an absolute treasure. Enjoy it. [Opening times in 2012: Open daily 26th May to 2nd September.]
DUNNOTTAR CASTLE
Dunnottar Castle sits around a mile-and-a-half south of Stonehaven, on the coast. Armed with the same leaflet as detailed above, you can walk there in no time at all. When I was in Stonehaven, the walk leading from the harbour up Bervie Braes was closed, but there was a well-signposted alternative route. As you approach Dunnottar Castle it is hard not to feel excited. The approach on foot is awesome. It has to be one of the best-defended castles in the country, plonked as it is on a rocky lump by the sea, and making full use of jagged natural features. If, in ye olden days, you somehow made it up the steep winding stairs to attempt to batter down the castle's small door, you'd find to your mild annoyance a battery of gun-ports at ground level all pointing towards the door. If you then succeeded in breaking down that door, an impossible task, I'm sure, you would then be faced with yet another series of gun-ports at ground level, some big enough to allow small cannon to shred you with grapeshot. Utterly fascinating and well-thought-out defences. The defences were in fact so good that when Cromwell laid siege to the castle in 1651 it took a full eight months to gain entry, by which time Scotland's Crown Jewels had been smuggled out and taken to a place of safety.
TOLBOOTH MUSEUM
This museum is located on the Old Pier, overlooking the harbour. For some reason when I arrived there was Scottish country dance music playing, and I didn't so much enter as skip merrily in, lock arms with the attendant, and birl my way around the exhibits. The Tolbooth Museum is basically a really old building full of dusty stuff. There are fishing nets, match-boxes, old photographs of Stonehaven, and all that kind of thing. The building became the town jail and court between 1600 and 1767, and there is a mock-up of a cell to see. HEEEOOOOCH!
A LITTLE WALK
Stonehaven still has a tourist information office. When you arrive in the town, go straight there (it's in Allardice Street) and pick up a free leaflet titled 'Stonehaven - the coastal gem - a Map Guide to the town and its walks'. It's an essential leaflet to have. It details lots of little walks in and around Stonehaven. You could, for example, follow the 2½ mile walk to Cowie and the Chapel of St Mary & St Nathalan. You're guaranteed superb costal views from cliffs, and an opportunity to see the Highland Boundary Fault and ruins dedicated to St Mary of the Storms!
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Coastal cliffs near Stonehaven
The colourful entrance to Stonehaven's open-air pool
Piper at Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven
Approaching Dunnottar Castle on the steep winding path