North East Coastal Trail, Scotland
The North East Coastal Trail is signposted with a blue anchor and runs along the coast between Fraserburgh and Portgorden passing through the idyllic fishing village of Pennan, followed by Crovie, Gardenstown, MacDuff, Banff, Portsoy, Cullen, Portknockie and Findochty, all villages that owe their livelihood to the North Sea and its fish. White and gray-washed houses occupy the narrow coastal strip huddling together around tiny harbors. Again and again, it seems as though time has passed a little more slowly around these parts than elsewhere in Scotland.
Typical Visit: 1 hour
Banff and Macduff, Scotland
The picturesque ports of Banff and Macduff at the mouth of the River Deveron are connected by a seven-arched bridge which makes it difficult to separate the two towns. As early as the 12th century Banff was a busy trading center in the "northern Hanse", but it did not have its own harbor until 1775. A number of Georgian houses which belonged to the Scottish gentry during the 17th and 18th centuries line the steep lanes and most of them are now protected by a preservation order. An elegant mansion designed by John Adam was built on the foundations of a medieval castle in the 18th century.
Even though the money ran out and it was never finished Duff House is a jewel of Georgian architecture. Built in the style of the Roman Villa Borghese it was commissioned by William Duff the first Earl of Fife but after 13 years the work had to stop. The two-story building is decorated with Corinthian pilasters, ornate gables and four corner towers. During the 19th C some of the bedrooms were fitted out in Victorian style. Historic Scotland runs the estate and plans are in hand to convert the house into an art gallery.
Macduff Marine Aquarium
The Macduff Marine Aquarium has the deepest open-air tank in Scotland. Visitors can view diving and feeding displays by fish and invertebrates.
Address: 11 High Shore, Macduff AB44 1SL, Scotland
Opening hours: Apr 1 to Oct 31: 10am-5pm
Nov 1 to Mar 31: 11am-4pm
Nov 1 to Mar 31: 11am-4pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), New Year's Eve (Dec 31), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26)
Entrance fee in GBP: Annual pass or membership £36.60, Family £16.30, Adult £5.90, Senior £3.65, Child 15 & under £2.95
Useful tips: Last admission - 45 minutes prior to closing time.
Inland about 11mi/17.6km south of MacDuff stands the tower house known as the Hays of Delgatie. While parts of the castle go back to the 11th century most of it was built during the 16th and 17th centuries. The portrait of Mary Stuart in one of the bedrooms relates to the fact that she stayed here in 1562 after the Battle of Corrichie. The superb ceiling paintings (1590) merit closer inspection, while in the park the Shetland ponies will appeal to all ages.
Address: Turriff, Aberdeenshire AB53 5TD, Scotland
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), New Year's Eve (Dec 31), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in GBP: Family £16.00, Adult £6.00, Child £4.00, Concession or reduced rate £4.00
Facilities: Gift shop
Some 3km/2mi north of Delgatie Castle, John Urquhart built a castle ca. 1602 and the property remains within the family to this day. The 16th century wood paneling and the old library are the highlights of the interior.
Portsoy is noted for its marble, some of which was used in the Palace of Versailles.
Some 2mi/3km to the southwest of Portsoy, the picturesque village of Fordyce was voted Scottish village of the year in 1990. The highlight of the main street is an L-shaped castle in Scottish baronial style (16th century) with small corner towers and pretty stepped gables. Craftsmen and women can be seen at work in the Visitor Center.
Sir Walter Ogilvie of Deskford whose tombstone stands in the old church nearby had the L-shaped Cullen House built in 1660. A little later Robert Adam and then David Bryce (1861) extended the property quite considerably. Robert Adam and Grinling Gibbons designed the elegant interior. Once the seat of the earls of Seafield, the house has been closed since 1975.
Pennan is known to filmgoers as the setting for Bill Forsyth's popular film "Local Hero" starring Burt Lancaster.
Cullen is located on the North Sea coast between Elgin and Banff and Macduff.