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Truth be told, I rarely venture so far north. I have no need, but when the good weather hits and travel is restricted, it seemed as good a time as any to get out there and explore!
Lying between the towns of Fraserburgh and Macduff, 43 miles and 1 hour north of the city, we took a lovely drive through Aberdeenshire and discovered a trove of wonderful places to visit on the way.
Pennan, Crovie and Gardenstown were particularly high on my list to visit after years of seeing pictures online, so those were to be our first stops.
We reached the turning for Pennan and one thing that I was not expecting, was the incredibly steep and narrow hill that requires some navigating, before reaching the shore. I would advise that you make sure your car can handle it before any attempt is made because I have to say, I was a little nervous when we came face to face with another car!
Pennan is an 18th-century fishing hamlet that sits at the base of the cliffside and consists of only a small harbour and one row of houses. As I said, I’d seen plenty of pictures online but I knew nothing of the area.
We slowly made our way down the hill and reached a parking area at the end of the street before we took any time to admire the view.
Once we got out of the car, we took a walk along the single street, admiring the beautiful gable-ended and whitewashed cottages before we eventually came across the infamous red telephone box.
Pennan Phone Box & Local Hero
If you are a film buff (I certainly won’t pretend that I am), you may recognise Pennan from the cult classic British film ‘Local Hero‘, which was largely shot in the village. I believe that the red phone box is synonymous with the film, it has even gained listed status, but for me, it simply makes for a really interesting photo opportunity.
We spotted a plaque commemorating the making of the film and a couple of other pieces of note while we explored the area which was interesting to see.
As we walked along the street, several children were playing on the beach, washing hanging on the lines and people eating lunch at the tables and benches outside. Because we visited on a gloriously sunny summer’s day, it looked idyllic but I can just imagine how harsh it must be in the winter. Frankly, I dread to imagine how it must be when icy!
Of course, you are never guaranteed good weather, especially on the Scottish coast but I think that this would be a wonderful place to come and visit as a family during the holidays.
If that is of interest to you, there are a couple of options available in terms of accommodation. The largest is the Pennan Inn, which is a family-run BnB and also home to the Pennan Gallery.
To me, the thought of falling asleep to the sounds of the crashing waves and waking up to gorgeous sea views of the Moray Firth would be bliss. I would definitely be happy to experience that at some point!
At the east end of the village, there is a small harbour where you can still find some colourful boats docked nearby, however, I don’t believe that the village relies on the fishing industry now and this is mainly for leisure and personal use.
The majority of our visit was spent climbing the rocks and walking on the pebble beach. And I can honestly say that I’ve never seen water so clear in the North East. Pennan is a hot spot for wildlife and although we didn’t see any, I hear it’s a good location for spotting seals and dolphins. Of course, we just saw the obligatory seagulls!
However, views aside, if you are looking for things to do in Pennan, I’m afraid there isn’t much. It’s a great spot to enjoy the view and the quiet beauty that surrounds you, but if you are looking for a little more to do in terms of activities, you would need to visit one of the nearby towns or villages for more options.
For food, you can visit the Coastal Cuppie if open, this is a coffee and cake shack found by the harbour. They provide support to the Pennan Harbour Trust in taking donations and payments for the coffee, cake and trinkets to maintain the harbour structure.
I have heard that the Pennan Inn is great for meals and drinks but I cannot confirm that they are always open or available for this so you may need to check their website or social media beforehand.
Whilst this is a quiet place to visit and doesn’t have much to offer in terms of entertainment, it’s a beautiful wee village filled with character that is lovely to enjoy. I’m so glad that I finally had the opportunity to visit!