Key Characteristics

Key Characteristics


The Aberdeenshire coast ranges wide from the distinguishing Kinnaird Head, the historical lighthouse which was the first and last operational lighthouse in the country.  The area extends from to the Mouth of the River Esk in the south to the coastal communities of Portsoy and Sandend in the Moray Firth, encompassing a wide range of landscapes and habitats. (FLAG area)


The landscape is varied and encompasses a wide range of cliffs, beaches, sand dunes and harbours.


There is great potential for tourism on the coast, linking together the traditional ports of the North East of Scotland with the smaller attractions and with the larger more publicised ones, such as Dunnottar Castle.




Aberdeenshire is unique in landscape, both built and cultural. The area is home toScotland’s only Castle Trail which features a selection of 16 unique castles. Castles are linked to one another by way of road signage and the “trail”, with tourists following the unique brown and blue castle trail signposting. This takes the visitor through the heart of Aberdeenshire, incorporating many of the settlements and towns.

At present there is a coastal tourist route which runs through the coast road, from Stonehaven on the North East coast of Aberdeenshire to Dundee. Some of the settlements identified in Aberdeenshire south are visible from this coastal route; this is a sector which can be expanded.


North of Aberdeen, a coast road connects the coastal settlements of Balmedie to the traditional village of Portsoy, again incorporating many of the small settlements within the FLAG area and that could be utilised.


There are 100,471 inhabitants in settlements on or near the coast in the Aberdeenshire local authority area. This figure has increased by 2,285 or 2.84%  in the last 10 years, an upward trend. Unemployment claimant count stands at 3.03% and the total employment rate at 80%.



Whilst the population of coastal settlements has witnessed an overall increase of 3% (+2,285) from 2001 to 2011, the majority of this increase has occurred in larger coastal towns. This reflects a change in town culture from traditional fishing towns with local employment opportunities to dormitory settlements with a large commuter base. The towns in smaller fishing ports are conversely experiencing population decline, all the more noticeable given the smaller baseline populations.


Whilst it is not possible to draw conclusion from specific mitigating factors, the changing nature of traditional ports into settlements that exist more of a dormitory nature opposed to fishing villages can be attributed along with the cuts in quota, to the steady decline in fisheries related employment in the majority of small ports over the ten year period.


Total employment in the fisheries sector in 2010 stood at 1,439. This follows an overall decreasing trend in the 10 years since 1999 in North East Scotland, with a loss of over 1,100 fishermen in employment in Aberdeenshire.




However, economic activity around main ports is significant and export-orientated.  The cultural heritage of fisheries areas is unique to Aberdeenshire and there is a wealth of working harbours and knowledge locally. Those living and working in the fisheries areas are abundant in ideas and enthusiasm to bring forward new ideas for the revitalising, regeneration and long term sustainability of the Aberdeenshire coast.