The Angus Tour – Explore Our History and Heritage

No. of Days

3

Transport

 

Theme

  • Heritage Attractions
  • Family Friendly

Season

  • Autumn
  • Winter

Highlights and Delights

This exciting and diverse three-day itinerary will help you discover the best historical and cultural experiences Angus has to offer. From Arbroath’s impressive medieval abbey and baronial country house to the Air Station Heritage Centre in Montrose and steam powered trains in Brechin, many authentic and fascinating experiences are waiting for you.

DAY 1 – ARBROATH

Welcome to Arbroath

Day 1 begins in Arbroath, a traditional 12th century fishing town famous for its superb medieval abbey, fishing heritage, and the Arbroath Smokie.

Arbroath Abbey was founded by William the Lion in 1178. Today, it’s home to the Declaration of Arbroath in which Scotland’s nobility proclaimed their independence from England in around 1320.

The abbey is the start of Arbroath’s ‘Golden Mile’ which takes you along the high street to enjoy the local shops, cafés and restaurants, and then stretches down to the marina where you can enjoy an Arbroath Smokie by the sea.

Travel information

Situated on the A92, 17 miles north of Dundee and 55 miles south of Aberdeen, Arbroath is easy to reach by car or bus. Arbroath also has excellent rail connections and is on the main Aberdeen to London line. Keen cyclists will enjoy the magnificent coastal path that takes you from Dundee right into Arbroath town centre. Find out more about the Angus cycle network.

Travelling around Arbroath is easy, whether by car, bicycle, public transport or on foot. There are charging points for electric vehicles throughout the town, including the harbour area. Download the Visit Angus app for convenient access to an interactive map of electric charging points on your iOS or Android phone. 

  • Hospitalfield House and Gardens
  • Lunch
  • Signal Tower Museum
  • Arbroath Abbey
  • Dinner

Location 1: Hospitalfield House and Gardens

The first stop is Hospitalfield House, a stunning early Arts & Crafts Scottish Baronial country house. It was originally built in 1260 as a hospital to support Arbroath Abbey and then later converted to a monastery. The estate eventually became privately owned and in 1890 it was left in trust to support independent artists and education in the arts. 

In 1902, Hospitalfield opened as a residential art school, later becoming a postgraduate school. It was an important home for early Scottish Modern painters, including James Cowie, Robert Colquhoun, Robert MacBryde, and Joan Eardley.

Hospitalfield’s inspiring collections will give you some insight into 19th and 20th century history, from the vision of artist Patrick Allan Fraser to the years of the art college. Be sure also to visit the Picture Gallery – one of Scotland’s most significant Victorian rooms.

Be sure to also find some time before or after lunch to explore the new fernery and the recently redeveloped walled garden.

  • Location: Hospitalfield House, Arbroath, DD11 2NH
  • Winter opening times: 
    • 5 November to 12 December 2021: 10am to 4pm
    • 12 February to 3 April 2022: 10am to 4pm
  • Entry to Garden & Fernery: £6.00
  • Accessibility: Some areas of the house, including the Music Room on the ground floor, are accessible by wheelchair
Hospitalfield House

Location 2: Lunch at Garden Café, Hospitalfield House

Within the magnificent grounds of Hospitalfield House, adjacent to the Fernery, you will find the Garden Café. This attractive glass house, designed by Caruso St John, sits in a bright and sunny spot that commands a wonderful view of the gardens. Its tables were designed by artist Mick Peter and furniture makers ThreeFourFive who took inspiration from the historical collections at Hospitalfield.

The café menu changes daily and features seasonal produce from the area, homegrown vegetables, and herbs straight from the garden. All freshly prepared. You can also enjoy delicious cakes served with locally roasted coffee from Arbroath’s Sacred Grounds Coffee Company.

After lunch, why not spend some time in the beautiful walled garden, recently redesigned by garden designer Nigel Dunnett. As you walk around the garden, you’ll learn more about the medicinal planting of medieval monastic gardeners and about the form and function of the Victorian approach to horticulture.

  • Location: Garden Café, Hospitalfield House, Arbroath, DD11 2NH
  • Opening times: Thursday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm
    • Lunch: 12pm to 3pm
    • Last orders for lunch: 3pm
    • Last orders for coffee and cake: 4pm
  • Entry: 
    • Entry to Garden Café: Free
    • Entry to Garden & Fernery: £6.00
  • Accessibility: The Garden Café is wheelchair accessible via a ramp into the gardens
Fernery at Hospitalfield

Location 3: Signal Tower Museusm

The Signal Tower Museum is located near Arbroath’s picturesque harbour. It sits among buildings used originally as the shore station and accommodation for the Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Built in 1813, the Signal Tower served as the lighthouse until it was decommissioned in 1955 and became a museum in 1974. During your visit, you’ll hear some of Arbroath’s fascinating fishing and maritime heritage stories that are told through multimedia displays and historical objects. You can also see how the traditional fishing methods compare to today’s techniques.

You can arrange to join one of the tours of the tower room that take place on Saturdays. These can be pre-booked by emailing arbroathmuseum@angusalive.scot in advance of your visit.

The museum is also a great place to learn about Arbroath’s world-famous Smokie. The origins of the smokie began in the small fishing village of Auchmithie, just north of Arbroath. The Smokie has protected status under European law, which means that it can only be called an Arbroath Smokie if produced in the traditional manner within a five-mile radius of the town.

The Bell Rock Lighthouse is Britain’s oldest surviving rock lighthouse and still stands today, warning ships away from the jagged Bell Rock, 11 miles offshore. It sits on a long and treacherous reef in the North Sea, guiding the vessels that sail to and from the Firths of Tay and Forth. It was considered a significant engineering feat in the early 19th century.

  • Location: Ladyloan, Arbroath, DD11 1PU
  • Opening times: Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 3pm 
  • Tours: Tower room tours take place every Saturday
  • Entry: Free but limited to groups of six
  • Accessibility: Partially suitable for visitors with limited mobility with some accessible parking available
Arbroath Signal Tower Museum

Location 4: Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey was founded by William the Lion in 1178. Visit this spectacular abbey to admire the substantial ruins of a Tironensian monastery and read a significant part of Scottish history, The Declaration of Arbroath.

The Declaration of Arbroath is a letter written in 1320 by the barons and entire community of the kingdom of Scotland to the Pope. It asked him to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king. The letter was sent from Arbroath Abbey.

The abbey’s new visitor centre features a fantastic exhibition about the abbey’s historical timeline and more information about the Declaration of Arbroath. The abbey and the grounds are currently closed due to restoration work. The admission price has been reduced to reflect this.

  • Location: Abbey Street, Arbroath, DD11 1EG
  • Opening times: Daily, 10am to 4pm
  • Entry (booking required):
    • Adult (16-64yrs): £4.50
    • Concession (65yrs+): £3.60
    • Historic Scotland members: Free
    • English Heritage: Half price/Free depending on membership status
    • Carers accompanying visitors with disabilities: Free
  • Accessibility: Partially suitable for visitors with limited mobility with accessible toilets. Most of the Abbey is relatively level with grass and gravel surfaces. The visitor centre has step-free access and a platform lift to the first floor.
Arbroath Abbey

Location 5: Dinner at Andreou’s Bistro

Located on Arbroath’s High Street, this popular bistro offers authentic Greek and Mediterranean food in a comfortable, friendly, and relaxed atmosphere.

The menu at Andreou’s offers a great choice of tasty, fresh, homemade dishes that are full of flavour and local produce. All of the fish, vegetables and meat is sourced from within a ten-mile radius of the restaurant. Try the pasture-fed Lunan Bay goat meat in a delicious goat curry or the fine harissa falafel burger with a tangy tomato and chilli sauce.

Whichever option you pick from the exciting menu, you’ll experience their passion for cooking Greek food and desire to bring some of the best experiences from Cypriot dining to Angus.

People recommend Andreou’s Bistro not only for the quality of food and wine but also for the high standard of service, so your experience here should be the perfect way to end the day.

  • Location: 57 High St, Arbroath, DD11 1AN
  • Opening times:
    • Monday: Closed
    • Tuesday and Wednesday: 5pm to 9pm
    • Thursday: 12pm to 9pm
    • Friday and Saturday: 12pm to 9pm
    • Sunday: 12pm to 8pm
  • Accessibility: Disabled access
Andreou's Bistro, Arbroath

DAY 2 – MONTROSE

Welcome to Montrose

Visit Montrose on Day 2 and step back in time to the 1940s with an unforgettable visit to the town’s wonderful heritage centre that’s based within a former air station. Then, step even further back in time to visit an elegant 18th century house that’s fit for a laird. 

Montrose sits on the edge of a nature reserve, a haven for wildfowl and wading birds that you can study at the Montrose Basin Wildlife Centre. Montrose boasts an attractive town centre and a wide sandy beach.

Travel information

Travelling to Montrose from Arbroath takes around 20 minutes by car or bus following the A92 through the picturesque Angus countryside. Montrose can be reached from the main A90 dual carriageway by car in around 20 minutes.

  • Montrose Air Station
  • Lunch
  • House of Dun
  • Dinner

Location 1: Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre

Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre sits on the site of Britain’s first operational military airfield that was established by the Royal Flying Corps in 1913.

The centre’s unique collection of contemporary photographs, artefacts, memorabilia, and planes will take you on a journey back in time and also demonstrate the human side of the Air Station’s past. The Heritage Centre ensures future generations will remember the service of the men and women who served at Montrose Air Station. During your visit, you’ll hear some unforgettable stories of their lives and of those who lived in the area.

The centre offers some unique and memorable experiences. Step inside a 1940’s house and a full-size Anderson shelter. Marvel at the full-size replica of the B.E.2a aircraft flown by No.2 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps – the first squadron to land in France at the start of World War One. You can also see full-size replicas of a Sopwith Camel and an MkVb Spitfire. The Hawker Hunter, Meteor, and Vampire jets will impress too.

The centre ​​is an independent and fully accredited museum run entirely by volunteers. They recently received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award for volunteer groups in the UK.

  • Location: Waldron Road, Montrose, DD10 9BD
  • Opening times: Saturdays only, 10am to 4pm
  • Entry (booking required):
    • Adults £6.60
    • Concessions £5.50
  • Accessibility: Partially suitable for visitors with limited mobility. Accessible toilets.
Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre

Location 2: Lunch at Erskine’s Café, House of Dun

Erskine’s Café is located within the grounds of the House of Dun, a grand 18th century home with striking architecture, gardens and woodlands. The café provides indoor and outdoor seating for you to sit and enjoy light lunch bites, cakes, and drinks. Inside, you are surrounded by a fascinating display of historical agricultural tools.

After lunch, step into the wildlife-rich outdoors, where beautiful formal gardens are surrounded by acres of Montrose woodland, and there are stunning vistas overlooking Montrose Basin to enjoy.

  • Location: House of Dun, Montrose, Angus, DD10 9LQ
  • Opening times: 
    • 18 October to 20 December: Friday to Monday, 10.30am to 4.30pm
    • 8 January to 27 February: Saturday to Sunday, 10.30am to 4.30pm
  • Entry: Free
  • Accessibility: Partial wheelchair access with accessible parking and toilets
House of Dun

Location 3: House of Dun

Travel back to the 18th century with a visit to this elegant country house that’s fit for a laird. Designed with Georgian pride and baroque extravagance by renowned architect William Adam, House of Dun is every bit a laird’s home. 

Guides in period costumes will lead you through this elegant Georgian country house and talk you through its long and interesting history. 

There is an impressive level of precision and fine detail throughout the house, like the detailed plasterwork by Joseph Enzer in the saloon and the hand-stitched woolwork and embroideries by Lady Augusta FitzClarence that you’ll find in many of the rooms. 

Experience the sounds and smells of the Georgian kitchen downstairs and see the traditional clockwork roasting spit, a labour-saving device that was once at the forefront of technology. 

And outside in the courtyard, you’ll discover a new, interactive visitor experience called the Angus Folk Collection. The collection contains over 4,500 pieces that together tell the story of Angus life, including a harpoon gun, a mother of pearl clock, a penny-farthing bicycle, and even a hearse.

House of Dun lies close to the edge of Montrose Basin Nature Reserve, which is also worth exploring if the time and weather allow.

  • Location: Montrose, Angus, DD10 9LQ
  • Opening times:
    • 18 October to 20 December: Friday to Monday, 10.30am to 4.30pm
    • 8 January to 27 February: Saturday to Sunday, 10.30am to 4.30pm
  • Tours: Every 45 minutes from 10.45am until 3.15pm
  • Entry (booking required): 
    • Adult: £13.50
    • Concession: £11.00
  • Accessibility: Partial wheelchair access with accessible parking and toilets
House of Dun

Location 4: Dinner at the Park Hotel

Set within the Park Hotel, Parkers restaurant is the perfect location for a memorable dinner. The food on the modern dinner menu uses locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible, including meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and fruit from within Angus.

Dinner options include fantastic food like the battered North Sea haddock, roast breast of Angus chicken and haggis, and vegetarian butternut squash risotto. The restaurant also has a specials board that changes daily, so there is always something to suit every taste. 

Afterwards, why not take a walk around and enjoy some of the town’s nightlife or simply relax in the hotel bar.

  • Location: 61 John Street, Montrose, DD10 8RJ
  • Opening times: Dinner served daily from 5.30pm to 7.00pm 
  • Accessibility: Level access with accessible parking
Park Hotel Restaurant Montrose

DAY 3 – BRECHIN

Welcome to Brechin

Day 3 brings you to Brechin, where you can have a memorable railway experience and explore the home of one of the founders of Harley-Davidson®. Brechin is well known for its cathedral, which is one of only two Irish-style cathedrals left in Scotland that has an 11th century round tower.

Travel information

Reaching Brechin from Montrose takes just 15 minutes by car and 45 minutes by bike along the A935. Look to your left as you leave Montrose to catch sight of the impressive Montrose Basin nature reserve. Brechin is just a few minutes from the main A90 dual carriageway.

  • Davidson Cottage
  • Glenesk Retreat and Folk Museum
  • Lunch
  • Caledonian Railway
  • Dinner

Location 1: Davidson Cottage

In the peaceful parish of Aberlemno, you’ll find a picturesque cottage that’s more than 160 years old. Netherton Cottage – now known as Davidson Cottage – is the restored home of William C Davidson, one of the founders of the Harley-Davidson® Motor-Cycle company.

This site has been carefully designed to guide you around the early family history of the Davidsons and bring you right up to the present day. You can also learn about the extensive work that restored the cottage to how it would have been in 1857. That work began after three Harley enthusiasts found the cottage as a crumbling ruin in 2008.

During your visit, you’ll learn about the hard but peaceful life that the Davidsons enjoyed before their transatlantic voyage to America and what life was like in 19th century Scotland. 

The cottage is the perfect location for Harley fans wishing to visit (and even stay) where it all started. You’ll be joining thousands of visitors who make the pilgrimage to the cottage each year. 

During your visit to this location, open the free Visit Angus app to unlock a 360-degree tour of the inside of the cottage.

This attraction is run by volunteers. Please enquire on the Davidson Cottage website about visiting so a volunteer can be there to show you around.

  • Location: Netherton Cottage, Aberlemno, Brechin, DD9 6SH
  • Opening times: 
    • By appointment only
  • Entry: Free
  • Accessibility: Partial disabled access with accessible parking and toilets
Netherton Cottage, Aberlemno, Brechin

Location 2: The Glenesk Retreat and Folk Museum

The Glenesk Retreat and Folk Museum is located in the small hamlet of Tarfside, a beautiful location within Glenesk, around 30 minutes from Brechin. It was once the site of a cottage built by Captain Wemyss in the 1840s as an escape from life at sea.

The museum was founded in 1955 by historian and local schoolteacher Margaret Fairweather Michie MBE who wished to capture a way of life that was quickly disappearing. Today, you can enjoy a remarkable collection of over 30,000 artefacts that tell the story of Glenesk life and the local area.

Every object in the impressive collection tells a story, from the Bronze Age to the mid-20th century. The main displays on the ground floor change regularly and feature a wide range of fascinating items from irons to bibles, bustles to basket hilted swords and bright, and white christening gowns. You’ll find the temporary exhibitions on the upper floor.

The museum’s café offers hot and cold drinks plus light refreshments, including home-baked goods that use locally sourced produce. Grab a seat in the cosy ‘sitting room’ with its wood stove – perfect for a cold day. And before you leave, stop by the museum’s shop to browse their range of heritage items, books, and toys on sale.

Outside, there is a lovely woodland walk and nature trail around the grounds where you will come across their collection of ploughs, quern and mill stones, and a beautiful sundial. The Agricultural Display building is also home to a group of bats that have become part of a special educational project called High Rise Bats. 

The museum’s location is also perfect for longer walks among the stunning Glenesk hills. For further information and booking, visit the Glenesk Retreat and Folk Museum website

Glenesk Retreat & Folk Museum

Location 3: Lunch at the Whistle Stop café

Enjoy a light lunch and delicious home baking at The Whistle Stop Café which is situated on Platform 1 of Brechin Station. This charming family-run coffee shop sits within a historic station building at the Caledonian Railway.

The café offers a wide range of quality, locally sourced food, drinks and home baking throughout the day. Their tasty, hot homemade soup with a sandwich is the perfect lunch for an autumn or winter day. Follow that with a slice of cake and a coffee, and you will be ready to explore all that Caledonian Railway has to offer during the afternoon.

  • Location: The Station, Park Road, Brechin, Angus, DD9 7A
  • Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 3pm
  • Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible with accessible toilets 
Whistle Stop Cafe Brechin 700 x 500

Location 4: Caledonian Railway

Spend the afternoon at Brechin’s Caledonian Railway to take in the sights, smells, and that special feeling of sitting in a traditional coal or diesel-powered train pulling away from the station. 

The trains run along a four-mile branch line between Brechin and the countryside stop of Bridge of Dun, a former stopping place for Royal trains. Originally built in 1848, Caledonian Railway is today a classic preserved railway and one of the most popular attractions in Angus.

Enjoy the collection of classic locomotives and coaches, and shop for souvenirs at Brechin Station. This is an excellent volunteer-run destination and a long-standing local charity. All funds are reinvested into the restoration and preservation of the railway.

The railway is open seasonally, including selected dates in Autumn and Winter. Check for opening and booking availability of seasonal events on the Caledonian Railway website.

  • Location: 2 Park Road, Brechin, Angus, DD9 7AF
  • Opening times and entry costs: Check Caledonian Railway website
  • Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible with accessible toilets
Caledonian Railway Steam Sundays

Location 5: Dinner at The Glenesk Hotel, Edzell

The Glenesk Hotel offers a pleasant location for dinner on Day 3. Based in the beautiful village of Edzell at the foot of the Angus Glens, this stately countryside hotel is just a ten-minute drive from Brechin.

The hotel’s Fairway Restaurant offers delicious, freshly prepared food that showcases some of the best local and Scottish producers. Enjoy locally-sourced beef, salmon, or even an East Coast seafood banquet for two. 

And you can choose from over 1,000 malts, 200 gins, 80 rums, 70 vodkas, and a selection of ales and beers in the hotel’s 360* Bar.

The hotel achieved Visit Scotland’s Taste Our Best accreditation as recognition of its sourcing policy, and the quality of food and drinks served in the restaurant.

  • Location: High Street, Edzell, Angus, Scotland, DD9 7TF
  • Opening times: Dinner served daily from 6pm to 9.30pm
  • Accessibility: Partial disabled access with accessible parking and toilets
Glenesk Hotel, Edzell

Accommodation

Angus offers a broad choice of places to stay during your visit, from traditional cottages and coach houses to comfortable hotels in convenient locations.

The Angus Tour

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Map of Angus in Scotland

It's easy to get to Angus by car, coach, train or air