Aberdeenshire’s coastline is 165 miles long and the region has strong historical connections with the sea. Harbours have been especially important, for fishing, trade and other maritime industries. The earliest harbours were natural safe havens or coastal inlets, where boats were pulled ashore on landing. Some of these became the stone harbours you can see today. Local landowners built and paid for the first stone harbours. In the 19th century government grants became available to fund the building and expansion of harbours.
The importance of fishing and sea trade has varied over time, and Aberdeenshire’s coastal settlements have had many highs and lows. This can be seen in how the harbours have changed in size and use. Many harbours are now used mainly for pleasure craft not trade.
The Historic Harbours Trail
There are 21 harbours in Aberdeenshire, from Sandend in the west to Johnshaven in the south. Find out more about 12 of the oldest harbours by viewing:
- Historic Harbours Trail leaflet (PDF 1.34MB)
- Historic Harbours Trail leaflet - accessible (PDF 145KB)
Please take care when visiting historic harbours.