It was a Friday and one of my friends was leaving town on Sunday morning to pursue new opportunities in his career. I had met him in Aberdeen at Robert Gordon University. As a farewell, we thought to go on a road trip. Aberdeen city is surrounded by a lot of beautiful places which are in close vicinity. Due to our interest in history, we thought to take a road trip to Peterhead. It is almost an hour drive from Aberdeen.
Peterhead is in Aberdeenshire and is famous for its heritage, maritime and harbors. Our trip started late in the morning as it was a spontaneous plan. We went to Peterhead Prison first which opened in 1889 and continued to operate for over a century. It was closed in 2013 and was turned into a museum. It is now open for tourists to discover what life was like in this particular prison.
It offers a guided tour delivered via a headset with 22 stations which means you can travel round the museum at your own pace. You can also replay any parts, and there are some extra background stories too!
Cells were simply furnished and were lit up with candles and in early years’ beds were just a narrow hammock. However, in later years the prison provided services very different from before.
The old Peterhead cells told some horrific stories. The prison had become Scotland’s main convict jail because of its remoteness.
The prison was always full and many tried to escape the cells. One of the famous escapes was by Johnny Ramensky. He made 5 escape attempts though none of them were successful. A book about him is on sale at the prison.
Another famous episode in the life of Peterhead jail was the D-Hall riot and siege in September 1987 when prison officer Jackie Stuart was beaten up and taken prisoner by inmates, tied him with ropes and forced onto the prison roof. This was a tense time for all concerned and after 5 days it all ended.
The place has a real edgy feeling because it was in use until a couple of years back. The prison has a sea view cafe at the end. We had coffee and some snacks before heading to our next stop of the tour – Newburgh.
Newburgh is a small and beautiful coastal village. The beach of Newburgh was classed as a high invasion threat from German units based on Norway during World War 2.
The town also has the 5th largest sand dune system in Britain called Forvie National Natural Reserve or Sands of Forvie.
This place is famous for Seal watching and is least disturbed by human activity. The beach was around 20 minutes’ walk from the car park but totally worth it.
Newburgh was famous for being a rumored birthplace of the sticky toffee pudding which is a British desert consisting of sponge cake made with chopped dates and covered in toffee sauce and served with vanilla ice-cream. We stopped at a cafe in the town to make sure we do not miss out on the amazing desert and then headed back home.
Overall it was very interesting history trip and one of the great wildlife watching spectacles.