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Things to do in Montrose, Angus

The northern-most coastal town in Angus is the Royal Burgh of Montrose - a proud little town whose pinky-grey buildings radiate history and tell of a time when this was the prosperous home of merchants, sea captains and wealthy landowners.

The town's natural harbour has for centuries been the focal point of Montrose. The Old Pretender having sailed from here at the close of the 1715 rising. Skins, hides and cured salmon were the earliest exports from Montrose port, while flax bound for the spinning wheels to make sailcloth for the fishing industry was imported from the Baltic, with wines and fruit coming from France and Portugal. Today the port services the North Sea oil industry.

The well-heeled of Montrose built elegant town houses here, the wealth of classical architecture providing a dignified air to the town today. The fine town House, or 'Ba Hoose' as it is known locally, is one such example. Call a Montrosian a 'gable-endie' and he will not be insulted! This strange nick-name harks back to the time when the streets were lined on both sides by gable-ended houses. The town also boasts the widest High Street in Scotland.

Montrose, set between the mouths of the rivers South and North Esk, once possessed a strong castle, which was occupied in 1296 by Edward I, before William Wallace destroyed it during the following year. The healing waters of the Medicine or St. Mary's Well were reputed to provide a cure for scurvy and were frequented especially by sea captains.

One of the town's greatest attractions is its two mile wide tidal lagoon - a wildlife sanctuary of international importance. Its mussel and reed beds provide a nature reserve for migrant birds. Seals and several thousand ducks and geese are regular visitors. Osprey and kingfishers have also been spotted here.

Some of the finest sea cliffs on the east coast are situated between Montrose and Arbroath - breeding stations for many colonies of sea birds, including puffins. Common and grey seals abound around the coastline and otter may occasionally be spotted at several locations, including on the South Esk.

Montrose has a fine beach and the spectacular sands of St. Cyrus and Lunan bay, the latter watched over by the jagged Red Castle, are but a stone's throw away. The pink dunes and creamy sands of these stunning and totally unspoilt beaches never seem crowded and can absorb hoards of sun worshippers effortlessly. Take a walk along and you are likely to have them all to yourself.

A short journey from the town will take you to the Fishtown of Usan, once a thriving fishing port. A track known as the 'King's Cadger's Road' once led westward inland to Forfar, along which fresh fish was conveyed to the former royal palace. Just outside Montrose and overlooking the Montrose basin is the spectacular National trust owned House of Dun, a grand 18th century house designed by Scottish architect William Adam.

Visit this unique pocket of the country and you will share the affections of the people of Angus for this area. Scotland's best kept secret.

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