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We look forward to welcoming you to Scotland's forests. To enjoy your visit safely please plan ahead, follow local signage and park considerately.

The Cowie Water Stop line was part of the British World War 2 defence plan to stop any German invasion onto British soil.

Most of the coastal defences and inland stop lines were built over the course of only a few months in 1940, in response to the German invasion of Norway. This stop line ran west from the town of Stonehaven into the Grampian foothills.

It created a bottleneck along the north-east Scottish coast. If an enemy invasion force got past the coastal defences to the north at Aberdeen and Peterhead, they would then have to travel south across the Cowie line. It was a second line of defence.

Over five kilometres of the Cowie Water's banks were built up with earth, to create a significant obstacle for enemy military tanks. The tanks could not get over the stream and high banks. It also had about a dozen pillboxes, as well as anti-tank cubes, and concrete blocks again designed to block the route of tanks.

Today, you can still see a section of the defences hidden within Fetteresso Forest. In particular, a well-preserved concrete pillbox is located on a small cliff overlooking a bridge over the Cowie Water.  The pillbox retains its camouflage of soil and vegetation, placed on top to hide it from enemy planes.

Visiting Cowie Water Stop Line

The exact location of Cowie Water Stop Line is grid reference NO762 873 to NO 765 874.

You can access the stop line in Fetteresso forest. If driving on the Slug Road (A957) from Crathes to Stonehaven go over the brow of the hill, then under the power line and the turn-off is roughly 200m on your right after the power line. There is a car park is on the right of this track, just within the forest.
There is no longer a waymarked trail here, but by using a map you can access remains of the WWII defences by following the forest road to Cowie Water - approximately 3 miles.

All sites managed by Forestry and Land Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.

Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.

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