The north coast of Aberdeenshire on the Moray Firth, between Fraserburgh and Banff, is more rugged than the North Sea east coast. Cliffs, secluded bays, picturesque villages and beaches are yours to discover in this beautiful scenic part of Aberdeenshire. It’s a stunning area to visit, the views are amazing and the villages and towns are a joy to discover, especially the seasides. The coastal road from Fraserburgh to Banff is 24 miles (38km) long and is one of the most beautiful drives in this part of Scotland.
In the far northeast corner of Aberdeenshire is Fraserburgh, around 40 miles north of Aberdeen. It’s a lovely bustling town with a nice town centre with shops, hotels and cafes. The centre can be found directly behind the harbour which is the biggest shellfish port in Scotland and one of the largest in Europe, landing well over 5,000 tonnes annually. Fraserburgh is also a major port for white and pelagic fish (tuna, herring and mackerel).
South of Fraserburgh is a great beach, backed by dunes and the Fraserburgh Golf Club which is the fifth oldest club in Scotland, having been founded in 1777! One of the most important visitor attractions in Fraserburgh is the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, which is a must visit when you can spare the time. For more info visit www.lighthousemuseum.org.uk. Also recommended is the Fraserburgh Heritage Centre, close to the Lighthouses Museum. Also noteworthy are some of the churches in Fraserburgh, there are seven you can choose from with the Old Parish Church just north of the town centre being the oldest.
This small village is located a little over 4 miles to the east of Fraserburgh. It’s mostly residential with few facilities for tourist although there are some shops, two hotels and a beach to the southeast of the village.
The coastal road from Rosehearty to Pennan is a stunning drive and provides amazing views over the Moray Firth and the cliffs towards the west. Take your time on this stretch of road and keep your eyes open! Seven miles after Rosehearty, after a steep drive down to the sea, is the beautiful village of Pennan. For those of you who know the best Scottish Movie ever, Local Hero, you’ll see some familiar scenes here as most of the film was shot near the pier area and at the hotel. In the movie the hotel had a temp extension built on and the phonebox was closer to the pier but apart from that it’s all the same. Funny detail is that the church and beach from the film can be found on the west coast, near Morar!
Where Pennan is very accessible, Crovie is a different story. This former fishing village is built literally against the cliffs with the beach directly in front of the cottages, making it impossible for cars to access the village. There’s a parking space at the bottom of the road and a footpath along the row of houses which are now mostly self catering accommodations. These people probably had some scary moments during high tide and stormy weather!
A footpath along the shore to the west from Crovie leads to the neighbouring village of Gardenstown which is a must to visit. The harbour of Gardenstown was once home to a busy salmon and herring fleet. Nowadays fishing has declined but the harbour remains a very lovely destination, especially on a sunny day. Have an ice-cream, sit on one of the benches and enjoy peace and tranquility.
Banff and Macduff
Ten miles east of Gardenstown are the towns of Macduff and Banff, divided by the River Deveron. Macduff has an aquarium, a maritime heritage centre and a golf course. Every year over the bank holiday at the end of May the COAST Festival of the Visual Arts is held in both Banff and Macduff.
The townscape of Banff, which is one of the best-preserved in Scotland, has many historic buildings including fragments of the former royal Banff Castle, a pre-Reformation market cross, a fine tolbooth, many vernacular townhouses, and a museum donated by Andrew Carnegie. To the south is beautiful Duff House, designed by William Adam in 1730, and one of Scotland’s finest classical houses. It is open to the public as an out-station of the National Gallery of Scotland and has a lovely park for playing and picnics. The park is available at no cost.