Beating the lockdown blues with creativity and the Buchan coast

These historical yet catastrophic times are difficult for many people, and can be a particular challenge in many far-reaching ways.

Jill McWilliam has been enjoying the beautiful Buchan coastline during lockdown. Copyright: Steve Cramphorn

Over the last few weeks Cruden Bay woman Jill McWilliam has been busy filming a section of the Buchan coastline for a special video project.

She says the coastline can be accessed easily on foot, from her home in Port Erroll, and believes getting out and about and enjoying the scenery on our doorsteps can go someway to keeping a positive mental attitude. Jill shared her story with the Buchanie:

“During the period of lockdown, striding over the cliff tops during my daily exercise has helped me to reconnect with nature, and appreciate the abundance of wildlife on our coastline.

Jill says we are lucky to have a vast amount of open spaces that can be utilised for walking and cycling along our quiet country roads Copyright: Steve Cramphorn.

“Life has slowed down to a ‘canny pace’ allowing me to recall what strengths I have gained from my strong Doric, Buchan background.

“I have utilised this lockdown period to produce some of my best video work to-date, which has greatly aided my wellbeing.

“I have found, with fewer distractions, nature and wildlife have become more evident and powerful than ever before.

“At this difficult time for many, coping with the effect of the coronavirus, emotions are running very high.

“I was motivated to produce some video material, depicting coping strategies I have found useful over this difficult period, to ease the impact of lockdown.

“Coupled with some stunning videos of our cliff formations, the videos also include a great variety of nesting sea birds and an abundance of wild flowers.

“The intense light at this time has seen our environment at its best.

“Being a Doric Buchan ‘quine’ I am fortunate to have the North Sea and coastline on my doorstep.

“We are lucky to have a vast amount of open spaces that can be utilised for walking and cycling along our quiet country roads now that lockdown is starting to ease.”

Jill’s most recent videos are presented on her Doric Future website which can be found at and on the You Tube channel.

She continued: ““Recalling the vast amount of intriguing history we have in this area has also proven to be very therapeutic Through my recent experience I am also adding a new section to the website which contains my imaginative video work to-date on the character Bram Stoker, writer of the horror novel ‘Dracula’. It is evident that many have been inspired by our culture and coastline.

“Stoker wrote the early chapters of his novel here in Cruden Bay in 1895. He utilised his walking holidays here in the north east of Scotland to perhaps do the very same thing – to slow down and tap into nature to aid creativity.

“Bram Stoker wrote three books while staying in Cruden Bay and Whinnyfold – Mystery of the Sea, The Watters Mou’ and The Crooken Sands.

“He was intrigued by Slains Castle, the coastline, the local people and their folklore.

“My website was launched in October last year as a repository for my work as a community videographer. I also wanted to present a new perspective on the Buchan, Doric culture.

“I am delighted with the response from locals and vast amount of overseas viewers who are benefiting from experiencing how life here is in the north east of Scotland.

“My website isn’t primarily geared for the spoken or written Doric, rather portraying how every day life is here.

“Being born and brought up on a Buchan farm, I have close connections with both farming and fishing folk. Also through my own life experience, I felt I had a story to tell.”

Jill continued: “I’ve had the good fortune to meet many others who have relayed their own story and vast amount of knowledge and history they hold. I now have more than 70 various videos on my You Tube channel, ‘Jill Mcwilliam’, containing a great deal of varied material. There is something for everyone to view.

“I wish to thank all those who have encouraged and assisted me to-date.

Writer Ewen Carmichael said of the website: “From Fraserburgh via Peterhead and Boddam to Cruden Bay, Collieston and beyond those videos will inspire. And if you can’t understand Doric, not in fashion these days, Jill is trying so hard to revive the beautiful brogue, you will be captured by her verve and charisma.”

**Coastal erosion is an increasing problem. These cliffs are dangerous. Coastal pathways are only recommended for experienced, well-equipped walkers.

Collaborating to ensure our Doric past is not forgotten…

Gordon Mackay, who collaborated with Jill on the new website says he has known her for many years and was very aware of her passion for Doric culture and of her work in capturing video reminiscences of an older generation who knew first hand the impact Doric culture has had on their lives.

He said: “Jill had been archiving and publishing her videos on You Tube but was finding it difficult to organise her work into a cohesive collection and so we got together in October 2019 to see if we could find a better way of doing this.

“We quickly settled on the idea of creating a new website dedicated to promoting Jill’s archive, and since then I have collaborated with her on developing the Doric Future website which has become a focal point for those interested in the links between our Doric past, and how it influences lives in the present day.

“My intention has been to create a simple website which should be easily accessible for all. Jill wants to encourage all generations to access her material and is eager to attract contributions from others and content has been building up nicely on the website with lots of informative insights into the impact Doric culture has had on people all over the world.

“The ongoing development of the website is an organic process, adding new sections and content as we broaden out the scope of content, but always mindful that at its centre should be the connection to our unique Doric culture.”