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Chapter 2. General Characteristics

Kincardine, like its southern neighbour Forfarshire, of which it is indeed but a continuation, exhibits a good epitome of typical Scottish .scenery. The two counties present pretty much the same physical appearance. Each, in a restricted though real sense, may be termed

“Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood.”

They both show a fertile tract of level or gently undulating land along the coast, dotted here and there with green plantation, stately mansion, or comfortable-looking homestead. In both counties, also, the interior is well sheltered from the biting east winds that sweep in from the sea by a range of hills running parallel to the coast—the Sidlaw Hills in Forfarshire, and the Garvock Heights in the Mearns. Similarly, on the north side of each, the Grampians rising in majestic grandeur form a wall of protection from the cold northern blasts. In both, we thus have favourable conditions for the production of fertile soil through the disintegration of the rocks and stones on the hillsides, and through the age-long washing down by rain and flood of new soil from the “ everlasting hills ” into the valleys below. For the sportsman the hills and moors of Kincardineshire provide grouse and other game. The parish of Strachan contains the one deer forest in the county—the most easterly deer forest in Scotland.

The highly picturesque scenery along the coast of Kincardineshire is a never-ending delight to the artist and to other lovers of nature ; while in its diversified flora, its rock structures, its antiquities, the county offers ample material to botanist, geologist, and archgeologist.

Kincardineshire has long been connected with the fishing industry, but the introduction of steam trawlers and drifters has, to a large extent, displaced the line fishing which was successfully pursued from the many villages and creeks along the coast. Manufactures can hardly be said to exist in the county. With the decay of handloom weaving, the manufacture of linens and woollens was transferred to the larger centres in the south and north—Dundee and Aberdeen. On the outskirts of the Forfarshire linen-manufacturing area, and connected with Dundee as the principal market-centre, there are, however, flourishing spinning mills at Bervie, Gourdon, and Johnshaven.

The county is intersected by the main line of the Caledonian Railway, which, at least for part of its distance, runs near to the route of the old roads, a fact which indicates the limitations imposed by nature both on the ancient makers of roads and the modern makers of railways. The position of many of the towns and villages is along this natural route. A similar explanation applies to the position of the towns and villages along the coast and in the Dee valley. With the exception, however, of Stonehaven and Banchory, their size has not yet greatly increased under the influence of railways, as in other parts of the country.

Although at one time possessed of a royal residence, Kincardineshire cannot be called a county of much national importance. On the other hand, few districts have afforded such an interesting field for the study of local history or research into manners and customs of the past. The county has a world-wide reputation as a sanatorium centre, while Stonehaven with its bracing air, its woods, walks, and scenes of beauty, and its unique opportunities for healthy recreation and enjoyment, attracts visitors from all parts of Britain during the summer months.


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