Sounding a bit like “Wallace and Gromit” but it really was a “grand day out”. When the Scotrail operator changed I managed to snap up a couple of free rail tickets. Given the choice of destinations I picked Stonehaven on account of its open air swimming pool. And vague recollections of very good fish and chips. It proved to be a good choice. Easily manageable in a day , not too far to walk from the station to the pool or town centre and with more to do than we managed to fit in on one visit.
This year the pool has opened for its 81st season but in the 90s it was threatened with closure and I remember having signed a petition to save it. Fortunately the campaign was successful and the pool has gone from strength to strength ever since , supported by a very active community team. They give it a lick of paint over the winter and it was looking beautifully colourful.
What sets this pool apart is that it is a heated seawater pool. And they are now thin on the ground. I have to wonder why, as the water was so much nicer to swim in than the normal chlorine smelling pools.
The weather was a little changeable but we braved the elements and , though the water was apparently a little cooler than normal, it was perfectly fine. I think during the school holidays and on very sunny days it will be much busier but I still wouldn’t hesitate to return.
There is a poolside cafe – we sampled delicious freshly cooked scampi , as well as a warming cup of hot chocolate later on. In summer there is plenty room to sit outside and soak up the sunshine.
I’d done a bit of research before leaving home and it also turns out that Stonehaven has an ice cream parlour of some repute called Aunty Bettys. Well, they know a thing or two about icecream ! Quite an unusual collection of flavours alongside the traditional ones – apparently Scottish Tablet and Butterscotch are amongst the most popular ones. If you choose to have “toppings” your ice cream will come bedecked in sugary decorations – and it makes quite an impression. Alongside the ice cream counter is a very well stocked old fashioned sweetie shop.
Travelling by train was perfectly feasible, with direct routes from Edinburgh. Now I’m looking to see where else might make a great day trip.