All is sea and sky at first, then sandy bays and rugged cliffs come into view followed by a string of quaint seaside towns and villages.

The Banffshire coast is one of the world’s “outstanding coastlines” according to National Geographic. Not just for its natural beauty with plentiful dolphins, seals, puffins and other seabirds in abundance, but for its “strong community feeling”.

Right around the coast of Aberdeenshire you’ll find beautifully preserved 17th, 18th and 19th century harbours with rich histories of Baltic trade and herring fleets. Here, fishing villages perch on clifftops and crouch precariously at the water’s edge, close lighthouses also guide safe passage.

There’s evidence of older history too as craggy clifftops, great dunes and wide beaches stretch for miles - shifting sands at Forvie even reveal the half-buried remains of a 12th century church. Among the ancient coastal sites are Dunnottar Castle and Findlater Castle, open to the elements, with precipitous drops to the sea below.

Traditional ways are valued with boats still built, Doric words spoken and bothy ballads sung. The people, whether born here or more recently arrived, are rooted and shaped by this far-flung, salty aired place.

“The Northern sky is a beautiful thing” says Burt Lancaster in cult movie Local Hero, filmed along this coast. And it’s true enough. In summer, the light up here is special, days are near endless, sunsets can light up the sea and last for hours. Winter skies are dark and starry and (with a bit of luck) you might even see the Northern Lights!

Please always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access code.

Discovering Aberdeenshire's castles and coastal gems

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