Portsoy is a seaside town on the north facing coast of Aberdeenshire between the coastal towns of Cullen 5.5 miles (9 kilometres) to the west and Banff 7 miles (11 kilometres) to the east. Of all the many ports in the region, Portsoy is one of the earliest to be established along the Aberdeenshire and Moray coasts where there are many untouched beaches for those looking for sandy solitude.
The communities here are strong and the old ways are highly regarded. You will see traditional boats still being built, and crafts thrive. When in north-east Scotland you are likely to hear Doric, the Scots language which has an extensive library of poetry, ballads, and songs that have shaped the region.
At the far north the Aberdeenshire coast turns west to become the Banffshire coast with small seaside towns and villages that have a strong community feel. The beautifully preserved small harbours from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have fascinating histories of Baltic trade and herring fleets.
The villages themselves are either on clifftops or riskily close to the water’s edge. You can tell which are the oldest houses as they are built with the gable-end facing the weather and the waves.
Pronounced Crivie, Crovie is distinctive for having the narrowest space between shore and cliff of any Scottish village. It is the best preserved fishing village in Europe.
Near Sandend Bay, the Glenglassaugh Distillery was founded in 1875 by Colonel James Moir. The distillery was closed for more than 20 years until it was purchased by a group of investors and production restarted in 2008. The distillery offers tours behind-the-scenes, with a chance to taste the malts and fill your own bottle to take away.
The ruins of Findlater Castle stand on a rocky bluff that stretchesout to sea about two miles east of Cullen and a mile west of Sandend. The site is a half-mile walk from the farm, Barnyards of Findlater. The castle remains are from the 14th-century rebuilding, when the castle was redesigned and modelled on Rosslyn Castle.
One of Scotland’s architectural jewels, Duff House was built by William Adam in the 18th century. The house and vast parkland grounds was originally a seat for the 1st Earl Fife and contains artworks, many of which are on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland.
Craggy clifftops, great dunes and wide beaches stretch for miles. There are surprises too, shifting sands at Forvie reveal the half-submerged ruins of a church from the twelfth century.
Sunnyside Beach is a beautiful sandy beach in the secluded bay between Cullen and Sandend, and has fabulous views from the cliffs. Explore this picturesque site, perfect for picnics and sunbathing with plenty of sand and rockpools. From here you can visit Findlater Castle or wander one of the local trails in search of wildlife.
New Aberdour beach offers impressive sandstone caves and St Drostan’s Well, a drinking fountain which is named after the saint who is said to have landed on the beach AD 580. At the west end of the beach is a memorial to Jane Whyte, who in 1886 helped rescue the crew of the steamship William Hope which was wrecked close to the shore.
The golden sands of Cullen beach is well known for its excellent water quality and has an amazing striking natural rock formation called the Three Kings, perfect for photographing. The beach is renowned for its excellent water quality.
In Summer, the light up here is special, as the northern days to barely there nights, and sunsets can light up the sea and last for hours. Winter skies are clear, dark and starry. The Northern Lights can also be seen here on occasion.
According to the respected National Geographic, the Banffshire coast is one of the world’s outstanding coastlines for its natural beauty with much wildlife including dolphins, seals, puffins and flocks of different seabirds. You can see seals sunbathing on Newburgh Beach on the Ythan Estuary shores, puffins nesting at the Bullers of Buchan and the world’s largest colony of rare eider ducks across Aberdeenshire.
The only mainland gannet colony in Scotland can be found at RSPB Troup Head. It is also home to species such as guillemots, razorbills and puffins. In the spring thousands of butterflies and moths flit among grassland and wild flora and there are local trails to explore.
Porpoises, minke whales and dolphins have also been known to roam the waters around Troup. Explore the rocky coastline on a boat tour from either Banff, Macduff and Gardenstown. From here you may get to see Logie Head, near Cullen, which is 92 ft above sea level and is a climbers’ paradise.