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Whitehills is one of the few harbours along this stretch of coastline which is still packed to capacity. However, it is yachts and pleasure craft rather than fishing boats that take up the berths here following the redevelopment of the harbour into a modern marina with first-class shoreside facilities.
It is a far cry from the days when the village did not even have a harbour. In the heyday of the fishing industry boats would come close to the shore at The Hythe and it was not uncommon for fishwives to carry their husbands out to the boats on their backs so they could avoid the discomfort of putting to sea in wet clothes!
The harbour is not the first landmark in Whitehills to be ‘recycled’, however. In the early part of the 19th century, when a new parish church was planned for the village, rather than build one from scratch thrifty locals purchased a disused church in Banff, dismantled it, moved it stone by stone and rebuilt it on its current spot.
Whitehills offers up many great walks, including the town trail. Peppered with interpretation boards featuring old photographs of Whitehills in days gone by, the route was developed as part of a local community initiative. The picturesque path towards Banff Links is also worth tackling as it takes in the foreshore – a Site of Special Scientific Interest and haven for geologists.
Slightly inland from the coast and only a couple of miles from Whitehills lies Boyndie – once home to RAF Banff Strike Wing, which played a pivotal role in protecting the area during World War II. Crews flying in Mosquito and Beaufighter aircraft targeted U-boats and surface vessels in the North Sea, causing the loss of thousands of tons of iron ore and other vital supplies. More than 80 airmen from the Wing gave their lives during the conflict. Former airmen and their families – many of whom were Canadians – still visit regularly and pay their respects at the war memorial.
The airfield closed in 1946, but many of the original buildings still remain and it is possible to take a walk around this once important hub of military aviation. While in the area, stop off at the charming Old School which houses an exhibition about the wartime airfield – and serves up some mouth-watering home-baking.