Banffshire Coast News

Rare barnacles discovered at Banff Links
Jul 17th 2012

Local photographer Andy Martin stumbled on a rare species of barnacle on the beach at Banff Links recently.

Andy established via communications with a marine biologist on Facebook that the rare find was gooseneck barnacles - a fairly rare sighting on Scottish beaches.  Scottish Natural Heritage describes sightings of gooseneck barnacles as "occasional" in Scottish waters. 

In medieval times before the concept of bird migration was understood, people believed that geese hatched from the gooseneck barnacles because of their shape, hence the name given to them.  The barnacles - long writhing stalks or pendulates, tipped with triangular shells - are normally found deep below the waves, but can be washed up on beaches clinging to logs and other water-borne flotsam and jetsam.  Goose barnacles rely on water motion for feeding, leading to the tentacled animals frequently being washed up on shore.  They extend a fan-like array of limbs to catch plankton and attach themselves to surfaces by their stalks, rendering them incapable of moving from the point where they are fixed.

In Portugal and Spain, the barnacles are a widely consumed and expensive delicacy known as percebes.  They have a briny taste and are served steaming hot with their triangular shells still attached.

Artwork Installation in Pennan
Jul 17th 2012

Fort Fiddes at Cullykhan Bay, near Pennan, will host a four-day installation of artwork called "Peace Camp" from Thursday 19th July to Sunday 22nd July as part of a UK-wide cultural project linked to the Olympic Games.

"Peace Camp" is a collaborative project for the London 2012 Festival and City of Culture 2013, inspired by the ancient idea of an Olympic Truce.

Fort Fiddes is one of only eight national sites (the other Scottish site is on the Isle of Lewis) chosen as a location for the series of coastal installations appearing from dusk until dawn.  Fort Fiddes is a stunning location for this spectacular event which brings together history, art and a sense of place.  Peace Camp will highlight the beauty of Aberdeenshire and will also attract extra visitors to the area over four days of activity, with a mix of national and local events.

The glowing encampments of tents will be set against some of the most breathtaking scenery of the coastline, with visitors able to wander freely through the installation of softly-illuminated tents.

Humpback Whale Sighted for first time in decades
Jul 6th 2012

Marine experts have recorded a rare sighting of a humpback whale off the north-east coast; it is thought to be the first of its kind spotted in the Moray Firth for nearly a decade.  The spectacular mammal was less than 2 miles off Gamrie when it was seen by wildlife watchers from Banff-based North 58 Sea Adventures.

Minke whales are often seen in the Moray Firth during the summer months, but not humpbacks.  The last humpback whale in the Moray Firth is thought to have been in 2004.

Humpback whales, which can grow up to 45 feet, are still very rare in UK waters.  They were hunted to near extinction by whalers in the early 20th century, but scientists say they have been gradually making a comeback to north-east waters in recent years. 

Maritime Traditions at Scottish Traditional Boat Festival
Jun 17th 2012

Visitors to this month's Scottish Traditional Boat Festival are being urged to observe centuries-old maritime traditions.  Organisers have produced a tongue-in-cheek guide of do's and don'ts for those visiting Portsoy for its 19th annual show.  The list is based on superstitions which were held by seafaring communities in the north-east.  Many of the beliefs, aimed at warding off bad luck or bringing good fortune, began as tall tales or legends.  Sailors observed a variety of traditions, including pouring wine on the deck and avoiding red-headed people.  It was believed men with red hair would bring bad luck on a journey, but this could be avoided by speaking to the person before they had the chance to say anything first.  Sailors were warned to not throw stones into the seas as it would be seen as disrespectful and result in retaliation such as giant waves and storms.  Women were also advised not to board any ships, as it was commonly believed women had no place at sea. 

Banff Links and Sandend beaches secure coveted Award
Jun 11th 2012

The beach at Banff Links has secured the coveted Rural Seaside Award Flag from Keep Scotland Beautiful for the 6th successive year, while nearby Sandend beach has received it for a third year in a row.  They were among 9 Aberdeenshire beaches to receive the acclaim from the country's leading charity for the environment.  The award, given annually, recognises high standards of cleanliness, safety and water quality.  There has never been a better time to enjoy local Aberdeenshire beaches.  A map showing all the award-winning beaches with descriptions, directions and facilities, can be found at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/coastal, along with an option for people to rate their favourite.

Cullen Hosts World Championship
Jun 2nd 2012

Cullen will see the first ever Cullen Skink World Championship this year in July on the same weekend as the Cullen Summer Festival.  Cooks from all over are being urged to enter this inaugural competition.

The Cullen Voluntary Tourist Initiative have organised the event - and are ambitious in their plans to achieve the same scale and prestige as the World Porridge Championship in Carrbridge.  The championship title will be awarded to the competitor producing the best traditional Cullen Skink, made from fresh, local produce.  Each entrant will be asked to submit a recipe and their method of cooking this special dish.  From this, the judges will choose 6 finalists to take part in the cook-off which will take place on Sunday 22nd July 2012.

The rules of the competition and an entry form are available on www.discovercullen.com or on request to community@discovercullen.com.  They are also available from the Cullen Paper Shop, the Cullen Tourist Office and the Cullen Bay Hotel.

Bon Voyage for Proud Pageant Boat
May 29th 2012

Obair-Na-Ghaol, the wooden fishing boat built by the Aberdeen Asset Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy, has set off on its journey to London to fly the flag for Banffshire at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.  She will be part of a flotilla of 1000 vessels saluting the Queen as she celebrates 60 years on the throne.  The boat is an exact replica of a scaffie - a traditional herring drifter - named Gratitude BCK 252.  Obair-Na-Ghaol -  the Scots Gaelic for Labour of Love - was built from scratch 14 years ago by Alex Slater, Sinclair Young and Willie Simpson.  The boat has been fitted out with a new engine thanks to Macduff Shipyards and has been freshly painted.  Obair-Na-Ghaol will be returning to Portsoy on the first day of the Aberdeen Asset Scottish Traditional Boat Festival - 23rd June 2012.

Cash boost for Art Project at Boat Festival
May 29th 2012

Portsoy's Scottish Traditional Boat Festival has been awarded nearly £20,000 in a scheme aimed at promoting Scotland's creativity and raising its profile as a tourist destination.

The funding from Creative Scotland is part of a £1.2 million investment in projects across the country, and will see an art project entitled "Ebb and Flow" delivered at the festival by artists Bryan and Carla Angus for the next three years.

The Boat Festival is renowned far and wide for the quality of its maritime heritage offering, but the event is about so much more than boats.  It has built up an enviable reputation for showcasing the very best in traditional and modern arts and crafts, and many of the 16,000 visitors who come to Portsoy over the weekend come specifically for this element of the event.  The award will enable us to take this to a new level, and we are delighted that it provides an opportunity for visitors to actually get involved with the artistic process.

The Festival takes place on 23rd and 24th June 2012.


3 Banffshire Coast Awards Finalists
May 15th 2012

Three organisations in the Banffshire Coast area have won through in the North-east Regional Finals for Scottish Thistle Awards and now go through to the National Finals in November.

Portsoy's Scottish Traditional Boat Festival started as a small community celebration to mark the 300th anniversary of Portsoy harbour almost 20 years ago and has grown in status to become recognised by VisitScotland as one of the region's flagship tourism events.  Although the emphasis of the Boat Festival is on maritime culture and heritage, the event has expanded over the years to reflect a wide range of associated traditional skills.  There is also a hugely popular food fayre and craft tent, an extensive music programme featuring local and internationally-renowned artists, and sports activities from running to rugby.  This year the festival is making history by playing host to the biggest ever St Ayles skiff coastal rowing regatta.  The Festival received the Award for Best Cultural Event in the North-east.

The Deveron Fishing Festival has been recognised for its success in attracting visitors to the area and boosting the local economy.  A lot of the trade now see the festival and its trade fair as a major event on the UK fishing calendar, and it is fairly unique to be able to hold a fair in an environment where equipment can be shown and tried on the river.  The festival ticks all the boxes in showing off the river to anglers and bringing people to the area.  The community also gets a payback in the benefits to the local economy.  The Festival received the award for the Best Nature-based Experience.

The Spotty Bag Cafe in Banff - part of the famous Spotty Bag Shop - received the regional award for the Best Cafe, Bar or Restaurant in the north-east.

Cullen Beach Gets Top Award
May 12th 2012

The Marine Conservation Society has just issued its Good Beach Guide for 2012.  Cullen Beach has achieved the MCS Recommended standard - the gold and top standard for excellent water quality.

Funding Delivers First Major Results
Feb 16th 2012

The first elements of ground-breaking marketing initiatives for the Banffshire Coast area have now been launched.  The website now contains a new section focusing on one of the area's key attractions, Dolphins and Marine Life, as well as ideas for Great Days Out along our coastline.  These features will make it easy for visitors to find useful information not only about the wildlife, but also about the best viewing points and the range of marine attractions to visit.  The three Marine and Wildlife Itineraries provide ideas for great days out along the coastline, giving visitors lots of reasons to spend time here, whether one day, a few days or longer.  In March, the new Area Guide will be launched.

Crovie Pier to be restored to its former glory
Feb 14th 2012

Residents of a small Moray Firth coastal community are celebrating success as the owners of Crovie pier, the Crown Estate, have drawn up plans to save the crumbling B-listed structure. 

Boat Festival to play role in Year of Creative Scotland
Jan 19th 2012

The 2012 Scottish Traditional Boat Festival will play a role in the Year of Creative Scotland and will have an emphasis on cultural heritage and the area's creative links to Europe and the rest of the world.  Visitors, which usually number in excess of 16,000, will also be able to see traditional boats from far and wide in Portsoy's historic 17th century harbour, along with associated crafts, music, song and dance and the very popular Festival Food Fayre.

Sea lab boost at Macduff Aquarium
Nov 21st 2011

Visitors to Macduff Marine Aquarium can look in microscopic detail at the creatures in the Aquarium's sea lab, using binocular microscopes which can project in high definition onto a plasma screen. An underwater camera also allows the smallest sea life in the lab to be filmed and seen in intricate detail.

The new equipment is a result of a successful £2,000 bid to the People's Postcode Lottery by the Aquarium, and the Aquarium say it really enhances the Sea Lab.

Conger eel on love date from Macduff Aquarium
Nov 15th 2011

Macduff Marine Aquarium have bid a reluctant farewell to one of their biggest residents, a six foot conger eel called Rip. But Rip seemed reluctant to leave, and had to be persuaded to go when he was released into the Moray Firth just outside the aquarium.

The Aquarium's motive on letting Rip return to the wild is both compassionate and passionate. Male congers go through a mid life crisis, when they head for the only time in their lives to the breeding grounds near the Azores, off the African coast, to find a mate, and die.

Rip was named for his habit of tearing food from the divers' hands who hand feed him in the Aquarium's giant 16 five metre tank. After six years at the Aquarium, he was showing the tell-tale signs of unrequited love: leaving his permanent hidey-hole, and swimming in daylight hours.

Rip quite happily went into his escape route, a large bag. But when it was lowered by crane into the firth, it took some persuasion by the Aquarium's divers to entice him from the safety of the bag, and set off on his one way mission.

But he eventually took the plunge and was last seen heading out to sea.

Sea eagle rescued
Nov 7th 2011

An injured sea eagle, originally from Ireland, is recovering after being stranded on seacliffs near Pennan.

Banff-based boat trip operators, North 58 Sea Adventures rallied to the call from the RSPB when a kayaker spotted the exhausted eagle on the cliffs in an inaccessible cove near the RSPB reserve at Troup Head.

While North 58 boat skipper Ian Page struggled against the failing light and a falling tide, brave RSPB sea eagle officer Rhian Evans ran onto the beach, and swam towards the bird to get it off the cliff, before grabbing the bird and getting it on onboard the Buchaneer. She was pictured in the P&J on the Buchaneer, with an ear to ear grin whilst still keeping a firm grip on the massive bird with its hooked beak and razor talons in clear view.

The bird was whisked off the vets to recover from its ordeal.

Early attempts were made to release the bird back to the wild at the Loch of Strathbeg bird reserve near where it was found, but the eagle refused to go.

It has been taklen back intro care, so that vets can check it for oil on its feathers, and to allow it to put on weight.

New! Mobile website for the Banffshire Coast
Nov 3rd 2011

Great news for the Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership. Our new mobile website is now live on-line, and available to all who use their mobile phones to access the internet.

This is the future! It means that folk in their cars, or in the street can find out where to go, where to shop, where to eat, where to stay etc in our area, just with a few clicks on their mobiles.

The Banffshire Coast mobile website includes some minor mods to make it easier to use and to read on small  phone screens.

Thanks go to our IT gurus at blue square for creating it.

If you don’t have an internet enabled  phone, you can get a look at the mobile website on:  http://m.banffshirecoast.com/  To see how it actually  looks on a phone screen, make your viewing window much narrower. (Of course, it is much smaller on a phone too.)

Banffshire Coast Tourist Group Awarded Promotional Boost
Sep 30th 2011

Banffshire Coast Tourist Partnership were recently awarded £35,000 funding from a combination of the Rural Tourism Business Support project, the VisitScotland Growth Fund and Aberdeenshire Council.

Over the next 18 months, tourism businesses along the Banffshire Coast will have the opportunity to participate in several significant marketing initiatives, thanks to a recent funding award of £35,000.

The funding, from a combination of the Rural Tourism Business Support project, the VisitScotland Growth Fund and Aberdeenshire Council, will enable the Banffshire Coast Tourism Group to further develop and market the Banffshire Coast as a highly attractive visitor destination.

Roger Goodyear, Chair of the Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership, commented: "This award is a fantastic opportunity to promote our area to both first time and returning visitors, and follows on from a very successful short marketing campaign run at the beginning of this year which resulted in visits to our website (www.banffshirecoast.com) rising by more than 1500%."

The four marketing initiatives fall under two themes - Outdoor and Ancestral.  A full-colour 48-page pocket Area Guide, to be distributed throughout Scotland and the Banffshire area, will contain high-quality imagery and editorial content to encourage both visits to and wider exploration of the area.  The other three initiatives will focus on the area's strengths of Marine Life, Walking and Birdwatching, and Ancestral.  They will all involve a combination of activities, including the creation of new sections for the website, e-flyer campaigns to targeted market segments, PR trips and familiarisation visits, as well as social media campaigns.  All four initiatives will provide tourism businesses in the area excellent opportunities to advertise their own individual offering.

Roger Goodyear commented further:  "The Banffshire Coast has a wide range of tourism attractions and services, but these have never been brought together in a way which is 'visitor friendly'.  The planned campaigns will draw all of these elements together in one place and promote comprehensive packages and itineraries to those with these specific interests - for the very first time.  We will be showing visitors just how they can spend their time in our area - whether one day, a few days or longer.  By focussing on the web and social media, we will be able to achieve more significant results than the traditional advertising routes which are out of the reach of our budget, as well as utilising the most up-to-date promotional tools.  We are very grateful to our 3 funding partners - without whom we would not be in a position to make this step change in tourism on the Banffshire Coast."

For more information, please contact:  Zillah Jamieson, Director, Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership Limited; 01542 840314; zillahj@btinternet.com

Puffin stars on camera
Aug 2nd 2011

A puffin has become the leading actor on TV cameras at Troup Head  bird reserve after it made its burrow right in front of the live bird-watching camera. The colourful little seabird can be watched entering and leaving its burrow, which may have chicks inside.

The final RSPB bird watching evening of the summer at Troup Head takes place on Tuesday, August 9 from 6pm-8pm.

As well as puffins, visitors will be able to watch at close hand the only mainland gannet colony in Britain, with RSPB experts on hand. There are 3,000 pairs of the beautiful seabirds nest on the towering cliffs every summer.

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