Charming fishing villages dot the beautiful Moray Firth Coast of the North East 250; a coastline that was voted one of the best in the world by National Geographic.
Take your pick from the villages of Fraserburgh, Inverallochy, Puttulie, Rosehearty, Pennan, Crovie, Gardenstown, Macduff, Banff, Cullen, Portknockie, Findochty, Buckie, Portgordon or Portsoy for an insight into traditional fishing communities.
Stop off along the North East 250 to take a stroll along one of Fraserburgh’s sandy beaches, visit the Castle Lighthouse and Museum or tee off at Fraserburgh or Inverallochy golf courses. You might also recognise Fraserburgh’s New Aberdour Beach from the remake of film Whisky Galore or have heard about it going up for sale with a price tag of £90,000 in July 2017!
The nearby cliffs of Troup Head are home to Scotland’s only mainland gannet colony. Tens of thousands of seabirds return to the cliffs here in spring, including kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills. Many breeds, including puffins, also breed here, making it the perfect stop for nature lovers. Just south east of Troup Head is the sandy bay of Cullykhan. The remains of the Bronze Age Fort Fiddes lie on a promontory above the bay and from the beach you can take in views of Pennan and Hell’s Lum; the remains of a collapsed sea cave.
Nestled between Fraserburgh and Macduff, down a steep hill just off the coast road, is Pennan. A tiny fishing hamlet that you may recognise from the 1982 film Local Hero, which tells the story of a man who was sent to Scotland by an American oil company to buy up an entire village where they wanted to build a refinery.
A bit further along the coast, you’ll see Gardenstown, which was named 11th in ‘Britain’s 30 Best Seaside Towns’ and 2nd in Scotland by Rough Guides. From Gardenstown you’ll soon reach Macduff, which has a fantastic Marine Aquarium to explore, and also Banff. When in Banff, a visit to Duff House is a must. Designed by William Adam in 1730, Duff House is one of Scotland’s finest classical houses and is home to magnificent art, beautiful furniture and lovely parkland walks.
If you’re travelling the North East 250 in early July, you may be lucky enough to catch the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy. For two days, up to 16,000 people attend the festival, which is one of the region’s biggest visitor events, to celebrate seafaring heritage, boat building, restoration and sailing, as well as showcasing a range of arts, crafts, music and food. And all this exploring is sure to build up an appetite so pay a visit to Portsoy Ice Cream for a delicious treat!
Past Glenglassaugh Distillery and Sandend, you’ll see the ruins of Findlater Castle on a 50 feet high rocky promontory; the site of which has been home to some form of fortification since at least the 13th century.
From there, continue to Cullen and sample the popular dish Cullen Skink; a creamy potato and smoked haddock soup. Two miles west of Cullen, Portknockie is another of the many traditional fishing villages along the Moray coast. This village is slightly different from the others though as it sits atop the cliffs that drop steeply to the shore and harbour below. A must visit when in Portknockie is the spectacular Bow Fiddle Rock.
A beautiful and unusual looking rock formation, Bow Fiddle Rock is a popular tourist attraction and also attracts many seabirds, with bottle-nosed dolphins and porpoises often being seen feeding nearby. Whatever the time of day, Bow Fiddle Rock will provide some fantastic photo opportunities and an experience to remember along the North East 250.