Green Geology

Get a train or bus to Arbroath and you can either walk along the coastal trail from Abroath to Auchmithie and get a bus back, or do as we did and catch a but to Auchmithie and walk back. The railway station is only 5 minutes walk from the bus station (see for more details)


The coastal trail is about 7 miles, but it took us all day as we spent a long time looking at all the fascinating geology, taking a lot of trips from the clifftop path down to the beach.


To get the best out it obtain a copy of the Arbroath to Auchmithie Geodiversity Trail from the TIC in Arbroath (Tel. 01241 087 2609) – so that you know what you’re looking at.  


There are also occasional guided walks with the Angus Ranger who is very knowledgeable about the geology, history and natural history of the area.


The clifftop path is fairly level, tarmac or gravel with some inclines, particularly at the Arbroath end.  The paths down to the beach are steep and often stepped, some are grassy scrambles.  Some of the more interesting bits can only be accessed at low tide and can involve scrambling over slippery rocks, especially if wet.


Background Geology:


Devonian sandstones and conglomerates with a marked unconformity between the Upper and Lower Devonian.  This is explained very well in the trail leaflet.  There are spectacular cliffs, caves, gloups, potholes, geos, stacks, faults and blowholes.  If seabirds are your thing – lots of those too.  You’ll find a wealth of interesting pebbles on the beach – and can also examine the conglomerates from which they are in the process of being liberated, especially at Auchmithie.


The angular unconformity is easiest to see at Whiting Ness at the Arbroath end, but once you get your eye in it’s visible at many locations, sometimes near horizontal, but it has a lot of palaeotopography, and sometimes along spectacular faults as at the north end of Carlingheugh Bay.  Here the Light Cave takes you through from the Upper Devonian at one side of the headland right through to the other side where you find yourself 40 Ma earlier in the Lower Devonian. Hard hats would be a good idea here, not least in case you bang your head on the low cave roof.


Don’t miss the Gaylet Pot, about a mile south of Auchmithie – its in the middle of a field set back from the edge of the cliff, and until you’re right on the edge just looks like rough grass.  You have to climb over a wire fence and trek across the field – it isn’t marked, but the farmer leaves a track through the crop.  Be careful – it’s 30 metres deep and unfenced.  At high tide there’s water in the bottom which gets in through 2 caves that meet under the field.


The walk is through an SSSI so definitely no hammering, although I think it is permitted to pick up loose pebbles from the beach.


A pdf file of the Arbroath to Auchmithie Geodiversity Trail leaflet is available for download.



Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Arbroath to Auchmithie Geodiversity Trail

Text and photographs:  Naomi Stevenson

Text and photography (c):

Julia McDougall


Page updated July 2014

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Auchmithie Conglomerate Member