Banffshire Coast News

Gift tree for disadvantaged kids
Dec 1st 2015

Organisations in Banff and the area's largest independent retail store are gearing up to distribute toys to disadvantaged children over the next few weeks in time for Christmas.

The Gift Tree Project has launched in the town, and residents are being urged to donate gifts to ensure the children have a happy festive time.

Last year locals provided more than £25,000 worth of gifts and food support.

The Spotty Bag Shop has donated £5,000 worth of toys.

Gift Trees with tags will appear at the Spotty Bag Shop until 13th December, and members of the public will be asked to select a tag from the tree, then buy just one extra gift while doing their Christmas shopping.  That present will then be donated to vulnerable children of all ages.

The Spotty Bag Shop and Home-Start Deveron, working in conjunction with Care United 2, Banff and Buchan community planning, community education, social work, health visitors and other professionals have joined forces to organise the toy appeal.  Close links have also been forged with local churches and other organisations working towards supporting those in need with food parcels.

Anyone who would like further information or would like to be involved in this project can contact Ms Thom at Home-Start Deveron, 5-7 Strait Path, Banff AB45 1AD, or call 01261 819964.

Banff Links a winner in Beach Awards
Jul 2nd 2015

Banff Links has been announced as a winner in the 2015 Keep Scotland Beautiful's Scottish Seaside Awards; and it has been an award-winner since 2007.

The awards honour the efforts of beach managers and communities across Scotland in maintaining high standards.

The annually presented Seaside Awards are the only accreditation for beach management which includes an on-site assessment of every beach.  This year, 60 beaches in Scotland have been recognised for their excellent safety and environmental management procedures and good water quality.  The Seaside Awards are designed to recognise the rounded visitor experience, from good access to water quality, from toilet provision to the cleanliness of the beach itself.

For a map showing all the award-winning beaches, with directions and pictures, click here


Bright Coast - Exhibition by Bryan Angus
Jun 23rd 2015

An exhibition of new work by landscape artist Bryan Angus is to go on display at Duff House.

Specialising in lino printing, Bryan's pictures explore the weather conditions and natural light experienced on the Banffshire Coast.  They have been created to demonstrate the beauty and quality of natural light this region of Scotland benefits from at a particular time of year, whilst capturing the dramatic coastal landscape.  The exhibition will present new interpretations of some familiar viewpoints, as well as a wonderful opportunity to view and explore the dramatic coastal landscape of the region.

Bright Coast opens at Duff House on Saturday 18th July 2015 and will run until Sunday 30th August; entry is included within the admission price to Duff House (free to Historic Scotland members). 

A graduate from Gray's School of Art, Bryan went on to establish the Creative Retreat in Gardenstown.  With accommodation and studio spaces, it is a place for artists to escape to and where Bryan and other artists teach residential art courses.

The images Bryan creates, often only using two colours, portray the villages and sea edge of the fishing villages and towns near his home - Banff, Gardenstown, Macduff, Penan, Sandend and Cullen.

Duff House Stories - Grounds and House Tours
Apr 28th 2015

People have the chance to uncover little known tales with Duff House Stories, a series of guided tours by Historic Scotland's volunteer team taking place over the summer months.

Historic Scotland, with support from the Friends of Duff House, have created two tours, one of the house and one of the grounds.

The House Tour looks at the role of Duff House during the war, the history of the Duff family and explores specific artefacts and the story behind them.  The Grounds Tour takes in the grounds and Wrack Woods, looking at the ice house, mausoleum, plant and wildlife.

Places are limited to 12 people per tour, so you should telephone Duff House on 01261 818181 to book.

The cost of the tours is included in the admission fee.

The dates for the year are:-

3rd May:  Grounds Tour at 11.15 a.m.; House Tour at 2 p.m.

24th May:  Grounds Tour at 11.15 a.m.

1st June:  House Tour at 11.30 a.m.

12th July:  Grounds Tour at 11.15 a.m.; House Tour at 2 p.m.

30th August:  Grounds Tour at 11.15 a.m.; House Tour at 2 p.m.

Exhibition to showcase an unusual take on Scottish History
Feb 4th 2015

An exhibition which explores a number of pivotal moments in Scotland's history has opened at Duff House in Banff.

The Nation // Live is a flagship exhibition and pioneering project by the National Galleries of Scotland which saw community groups in five regions across the country paired with a lead artist to explore a particular theme within the context of the country's past.

Historical events, spanning themes including work, roots, union, faith and civil war, were tackled by locals of all ages from Skye, Inverness, Dumfries, Clydebank and across the central belt.

Working closely with professional artists and drawing inspiration from historic works of art held in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery's collection, community groups and individuals were challenged to create their own contemporary interpretation of some of these key moments, incorporating their own personal memories and stories into their final pieces. 

This is a truly unique project that explores history with a modern twist.  The artworks created will be on display alongside reproductions of works of art from the national art collection which inspired these modern interpretations.  Several schools have been involved, including Keith Grammar School which collaborated with Knockando Woolmill to create their own woollen panels, which were then joined together to illustrate their local environment and surroundings.

The exhibition also spans a number of multi-media platforms, including works that make use of video, music, performance and sculpture.  The centrepiece of the exhibition is a film that captures all five elements of the collaboration and features all the community groups involved.

This is the first time that the exhibition has been shown outside of Edinburgh.

Schools can access Duff House and its collections through Historic Scotland's free education visits scheme.

The exhibition is open to the public until Sunday 15th March, and is included within the admission price.

Porridge oats in protection plea
Feb 4th 2015

A Banffshire breakfast favourite is the focus of a call for it to feature a stamp of authenticity.

Hamlyn's Porridge Oats, which are produced at Boyndie, have been suggested for their potential to earn EU Protected Food Name (PFN) status.

Grampian Food Forum chairman Keith Whyte said he would be delighted to see backing for the product to be given the status.

Grampian is the country's main growing area for oats because the soil is so good.  Richard Lochhead, Scotland's Food and Drink Minister, has said he would support PFN applications for the oats.  Grampian is home to some really iconic Scottish products, including Hamlyn's porridge.  2015 being the Year of Food and Drink provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase our produce to a global audience.

Award-winning author launches latest novel in Banff
Jan 7th 2015

Award-winning author Stuart MacBride is launching his latest novel - "The Missing and the Dead" - at Banff Academy.  The event will include a talk and a book signing.  Tickets (free) are available at Macduff Library, or by calling the Library on 01261 833289.

The book is the latest instalment in the career of MacBride's jaundiced hero, Detective Inspector Logan MacRae.  It is set in Banffshire, where the body of a young girl is washed up on a beach, sparking a murder investigation.  The novel features many local references, and the front cover features a depiction of Tarlair's open air swimming pool.  The synopsis reads:  "One mistake can cost you everything...  When you catch a twisted killer, there should be a reward, right?  What acting Detective Inspector Logan MacRae gets instead is a 'development opportunity' out in the depths of rural Aberdeenshire.  Welcome to divisional policing - catching drug dealers, shop lifters, vandals and the odd escaped farm animal.  Then a little girl's body is washed up just outside the sleepy town of Banff, kicking off a massive man hunt.  The major investigation team is up from Aberdeen, wanting answers, and they don't care who they trample over to get them.  Logan's got enough on his plate keeping B Division together, but DCI Steel wants him back on her team.  As his old colleagues stomp around the countryside, burning bridges, Logan gets dragged deeper and deeper into the investigation.  One thing is clear:  there are dangerous predators lurking in the wilds of Aberdeenshire, and not everyone is going to get out of this alive..."

Stuart MacBride describes the Banffshire Coast as very dramatic, the perfect setting for a crime novel and one of his favourite bits of Scotland as well.  For more information on the author, visit:  http://bit.ly/1CovEMo

Deveron FM starts broadcasting fulltime
Nov 26th 2014

Banff, Macduff and the surrounding area is set to rock to its own beat from the beginning of December when local radio station Deveron FM starts broadcasting full-time.

The station will re-appear on the airwaves on 107.4FM at 7am on Monday 1st December.  The station has secured its full-time licence.  The station first went on the air, initially for a fortnight, more than 13 years ago on a restricted service licence.  In the intervening years, it broadcast for 2 four-week periods each year in a bid to obtain a full-time broadcasting licence. 

Deveron FM has recently moved into new premises in Banff which boast a total of 5 new studios, a live lounge area and plenty of working office space. 

Memorial Dedication for World War 1
Aug 7th 2014

The centenary of the outbreak of World War 1 was marked in a service on 4th August with the dedication of a memorial at Duff House.

It will honour the more than 1,700 men from the old county of Banffshire who lost their lives in the trenches, at sea and in the air during the conflict.

A memorial stone and a copse of specially-planted trees was unveiled by Clare Russell, Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, who spearheaded the project.  This memorial will provide a permanent marker of the outbreak of World War 1 and the sacrifice of so many men.

Turriff, Banff and Macduff ready for the Baton
Jun 12th 2014

The Queen's Baton Relay will pass through Turriff, Banff and Macduff at the end of June - en route to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Sunday 29th June will see a packed day of events to celebrate its passage through this part of Aberdeenshire.  Although the local baton-bearers were selected some weeks ago, their identities have been kept under wraps. 

The Baton will arrive at Banff Bridge by road from Turriff at around 2.23 p.m. and special events have been organised to mark the occasion.  The highlight of the baton's visit to the area will be a short 20-minute sea passage across Banff Bay from Banff Marina to Macduff harbour aboard the Macduff lifeboat, the "Lydia MacDonald."

National and international TV crews will be in Banff and Macduff on the 29th to record the baton's visit.  To make the bay crossing as special as possible, local owners of all kinds of boats are being invited to form a flotilla in the bay to cheer the baton on its short voyage.  Canoeists and surfboarders who wish to join in the event should contact Deveron Canoe Club and Surf Scotland respectively. 

Banff beach makes the top grade again
Jun 4th 2014

Banff's Inverboyndie beach has again been recognised as one of Scotland's top seaside ports of call for locals and holiday makers - for the 7th successive year - in the 2014 Scottish Seaside Awards announced recently.

The award scheme, run by independent environmental charity, Keep Scotland Beautiful, saw more Scottish beaches than ever receive credit for environmental quality and an exceptional seaside experience.  The annual awards recognise good water quality and excellent litter, safety and environmental management procedures. 

A map showing all the award-winning beaches, with descriptions, directions, facilities and pictures, can be found at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/coastal.


Duff House debut for a master of the Renaissance
Apr 15th 2014

An exhibition charting the work and influence of one of the world's most celebrated artists has gone on display in Duff House in Banff for the first time.

"Durer's Fame" showcases the work of the acclaimed German Renaissance artist, Albrecht Durer - recognised as the most important artist of his era and one of the most celebrated artists of all time - best known for his technical excellence and highly distinctive print-making style.

The exhibition displays some of his most iconic works for the first time in the North-East of Scotland, and explores his legacy, including his influence on Scottish artists, with examples of their work on display alongside those of Italian and Dutch artists.

The exhibition runs until Sunday 13th July 2014.

Global window on beach views
Feb 18th 2014

Explorers of beaches in Banffshire can now let the world know what they mean to them as part of an innovative online project.

Manonabeach visited the area in 2013, taking in Cullen Bay, Banff and Cullykhan beaches, and asked people on each of them "What does the beach mean to you?"  The videos of the people who gave their thoughts were then uploaded to the project's website.

Now the online resource can allow people to submit their own recorded answers to the question - by text, audio and video - while enjoying responses from other people in the UK or further afield.

Manonabeach.com hosts narrative interviews with beach-goers and has been running for more than two years.  The website is seen in 119 countries.

Big screen scoop for Banff's new cinema
Jan 16th 2014

Banff Cinema is set to come of age with its first screenings of 2014 - featuring the multi-BAFTA nominated blockbuster "Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom" (12A) on Monday 27th January (commencing at 7.30 p.m.).  Launched late last year as a community project to bring big-screen cinema back to Banff, the initiative has found its feet very quickly and elicited terrific support from local residents.  Earlier on the same evening, and aimed at a family audience, Banff Cinema is showing "The Moshi Monster Movie" (PG) - another recent release.

Tickets for both films are available at the Strachan Pharmacy branches at 69 High Street, Banff, and 29 Main Street, Turriff, and at the Harvest Centre, Castle Street, Banff.

Movies Return to Banff
Nov 11th 2013

Big-screen cinema is returning to Banff in November 2013 for the first time since The Picture House closed almost 40 years ago.

Local businessman John Strachan and his wife, Dana, who own the Strachan Pharmacy stores in Banff and Turriff, have teamed up with the Riverside Church and screening company Film Mobile Scotland to screen six of the latest blockbuster movies at three Banff Cinema film nights over the next two months.

And a good response from the local public will see the film nights extended into 2014 and beyond.

The Riverside Church's Harvest Centre on Castle Street will be transformed into a cinema showing two films - one for children - back-to-back on selected evenings through November and December.  The first screening will be on Wednesday 13th November, when "Sunshine on Leith", a musical based on the music of The Proclaimers, will be the first big feature to be shown at 7.30 p.m.  It will be preceded by "Turbo", an animated film for children at 5.30 p.m.

The other scheduled dates are:-

Monday 2nd December:  5.30 p.m.:  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - a children's animated film, followed at 7.30 p.m. by Philomena - starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan

Monday 30th December:  5.30 p.m.:  Frozen - a children's comedy adventure, followed at 7.30 p.m. by Saving Mr Banks - starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thomson.

Tickets are priced at £6 for adults, and £5 for children; they can be purchased from the Strachan Pharmacy stores in Banff and Turriff, and from the Harvest Centre, Castle Street in Banff.

Snacks will be on sale at screenings, and only food purchased at venue can be consumed on the premises.

Get Arty at Duff House This Month
Oct 3rd 2013

Visitors to Duff House are being challenged to get in touch with their "inner Picasso" throughout October and get involved in the world's biggest drawing festival - "The Big Draw".

Over the next 4 weeks, visitors to Duff House will be equipped with packs which will allow them to capture the site through art by drawing the view from one of the house's windows.  The focus is on the natural world in line with the Year of Natural Scotland.

More than 200,000 people in 15 countries around Europe are expected to take part in the art festival.

Historic cross on show in revamped Banff Museum
Aug 18th 2013

The original Banff Burgh Cross, dating back centuries, is one of the highlights of Banff Museum which was officially re-opened on 9th August.  The High Street tourist attraction has undergone a complete transformation over the past 3 months thanks to a group of volunteers and a grant from the Banff Common Good Fund.

Improvements include new film which has opened up the windows - making it brighter, but also preserving the artefacts from direct sunlight - and low-energy LED lighting in the artefacts which also improves the displays. 

The Burgh Cross - dating back to the 1400s - has been in storage since 1992, and all involved are delighted that it is now back in Banff.  There are many interesting artefacts on display, including a claymore dating from the early 1300s which is said to be one of the best preserved from the Scottish War of Independence.

Beaches keep places on top Seaside Awards list
Jun 15th 2013

Banff's showpiece Links beach and Sandend beach near Portsoy have retained their standing among Scotland's top 59 bathing beaches.

Both picturesque and highly popular beaches have again been listed in the 2013 Scottish Seaside Awards by the environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Banff Links and Sandend were among almost 30 beaches in the North and North East of Scotland which were commended for excellent litter management, bathing safety procedures and water quality.

Bathing Beaches Sparkle
May 27th 2013

Beaches in the north and north-east are among the cleanest in Europe. 

5 beaches in Aberdeenshire received the top rating - Philorth and Tiger Hill in Fraserburgh, Inverboyndie at Banff, Peterhead Lido and Rosehearty. 

The excellent rating went to Achmelvich, Dornoch, Dunnet and Rosemarkie in Highland, Cullen Bay on the Banffshire Coast, and Ganavan in Argyll and Bute.

Fun-packed Festival goes back to nature!
May 8th 2013

Organisers of one of the biggest events on the Banffshire summer calendar, the COAST Festival, are in final preparations with this year's brochure now in shops and community venues.

The fun-packed initiative, in its 6th year, takes place during the final weekend of May 2013 in Banff and Macduff and the emphasis is to get the community involved as much as possible.

The theme is "Responding to Nature" and will see numerous workshops throughout the weekend which people can get involved with.

This year's aim is to have a stronger workshop programme and provide a good variety.

The full festival programme is in the brochure which is available at most shops and community venues in the area.

Duff House hosts Scottish artist's work
Apr 2nd 2013

Duff House will be home to an exhibition of work by William McTaggart, one of Scotland's best-loved artists, which will be on show for the first time in the north-east until the end of June.

More than 20 of prolific McTaggart's stunning watercolours, compositional studies and oil paintings will be on show as part of a Scotland-wide series of exhibitions to celebrate The Year Of Natural Scotland.

McTaggart is regarded as one of the greatest interpreters of the Scottish landscape - with everyday scenes of fishing communities, breathtaking views of the ocean and sheltered bays along the Scottish coast featuring heavily in his work.

The exhibition runs until Sunday 30th June.  Entry is included in the standard admission price for Duff House, which is open from 11.00 to 17.00 daily during the summer months.

Top-class beaches retain coveted top rankings
Apr 2nd 2013

Two of Banffshire's most popular beaches, Banff Links at Inverboyndie and Cullen Bay, have retained their coveted top rankings in the Marine Conservation Society's latest "Good Beach Guide".  Everyone connected with the tourist industry is delighted that the two beaches have maintained their position amongst the UK's cleanest, safest and best beaches.

These two beaches, combined with a string of high-quality beaches right along the Banffshire coast, underline the high praise this coast received recently when it was named by National Geographic as one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.

Along with Cullen and Inverboyndie, Rosehearty and Fraserburgh beaches both won the top "recommended" rating for 2013.

Duff House surrounds will bloom as floral wonderland
Feb 27th 2013

Duff House is one of three estates in Aberdeenshire which will come alive as floral winter wonderlands over the next weeks as part of VisitScotland's 7th Annual Snowdrop Festival, which runs until the middle of March.

Duff House is one of the best locations in the north-east to see the wonderful array of this year's spring snowdrops.  The festival is staged to remind people of the beauty of Scotland in the winter months and is a welcome boost for gardens, woodlands and the surrounding tourism businesses as the industry goes through its traditionally quieter months.

The Year of Natural Scotland will help enhance Aberdeenshire's reputation as a place for outstanding natural beauty, a stunning and easily-accessible place for active pursuits and the perfect stage for outdoor events and festivals.

The versatility of the snowdrop means that they grow in a wide range of locations and people can see more than 300 varieties of this delicate white flower.

New Book - Banff Through Time
Nov 20th 2012

Banff Preservation and Heritage Society will be launching its new book - Banff Through Time - on Friday 23rd November 2012.

The book charts the history of the town by comparing old and new photos of a variety of its areas.


See your heritage for free!
Nov 20th 2012

Banff's Duff House will be one of more than 40 Historic Scotland attractions giving away thousands of free tickets in celebration of St. Andrew's Day. 

Visitors need to register in advance at www.ticketgiveaway.co.uk in order to download a free ticket for each person for the attraction they would like to visit over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, 1st and 2nd December.

The Ticket Giveaway is part of the Scottish Government's Winter Festivals programme, which celebrates three of the country's most distinctive festivals.

A full list of participating sites can also be found at www.ticketgiveaway.co.uk.


McPherson mural to hang in Banff again
Nov 18th 2012

A Fife businessman hopes to return a 1970s mural depicting one of the most notorious episodes in Banff's history - the Hanging of McPherson at the Plainstones on November 16th 1700.  The mural has been discovered in the house of a relative.  Painted by former Banff Academy art teacher John Stewart, the original version of the famous and humorous mural used to hang in the Fife Arms Hotel until the Low Street premises underwent a major refurbishment some 20 years ago. 

The mural is massive and unique, and a colourful piece of Banff's history.  The mural was painted with a keen satirical eye by John Stewart, who recreated the theme in the 1980s with a second iteration which currently hangs in Banff's Broken Fiddle Cafe on Strait Path.  A major tourist attraction in its own right, the 1980s mural features characters who bear familiar faces with many a local, Scottish and national celebrity, including a young First Minister Alex Salmond, local councillors and business people.  A self-portrait of the artist is also included in the 1980's painting, which features John Stewart on horseback, assisting the hangman.

Cullen and Banff Beaches on the official list of Scotland's best beaches
Sep 26th 2012

Banff's Inverboyndie Sands and Cullen's picturesque shoreline have retained their billing on the official list of Scotland's best beaches.

Both passed stringent Scottish Environmental Protection Agency water quality tests which showed that they displayed low pollution levels.  Both were awarded top marks under the current European Union Bathing Waters Directive.

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.

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.

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.

Flying the Flag at Coast Festival
May 15th 2012

Organisers of Banff and Macduff's annual COAST event are planning a huge installation featuring more than 200 custom-made flags.  The piece will take pride of place at Banff Castle.  The theme of the festival is the creative individual, so the organisers are providing more than 200 blank flags that groups will be getting together to decorate.  Locals are being challenged to design a flag that best represents them or their families.  The flags will be fixed to a forest of bamboo canes.  Meanwhile 20 giant flags are being decorated by the same team behind last year's colourful umbrella project.  This year's event runs from 25th to 27th May, starting with an opening ceremony at Macduff Town Hall.

Banff's New Arts and Folklore Centre Opens
May 10th 2012

Banff's new £200,000 arts and folklore centre was unveiled on 6th May 2012.  The recently-completed Kelpie centre was the backdrop to the Beltane Festival marking the changing seasons in the ancient Celtic calendar.  The traditional fire festival celebrated the return of the sun with rituals to ensure the fertility of the land as livestock was herded from winter pens out into summer pastures.  The two-day Banff event also signalled the opening of the transformation of a former stable block at the town's castle to a modern venue for local cultural activities and performances. 

Orchard planned to mark Jubilee
Mar 26th 2012

A new orchard could be created at Banff Castle to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  Banff Community Association, which runs the venue, aims to plant 10 fruit trees initially, then encourage further planting in the grounds.  The trees will be introduced in the garden, lining an old carriage track which used to link the site to Castle Street.  Banff and Macduff Community Council has agreed to provide a selection of apple, plum and pear trees.  The aim is to encourage locals and groups to plant further fruit trees in the extensive castle grounds to border pathways and to then harvest the fruit. 

Heritage Trail Plan set to take off at RAF Airfield
Mar 26th 2012

Proposals to create a heritage trail at a former wartime airfield in the north-east are to be unveiled to the public.  The former RAF Banff site at Boyndie - built in 1942-43 as a training base for pilots - is the focus for plans to establish an educational and recreational facility.  The initiative is being steered by the Banff Airfield Trust, which was established two years ago.  The scheme centres on ways to stabilise, record and conserve the buildings and use them as focal points in a self-guided walking heritage trail.  It would begin from the Boyndie Visitor Centre, already home to a display of RAF Banff artefacts.  An open public meeting is planned this spring to let interested parties find out about the plans.   

COAST Festival is tops with voting public
Mar 22nd 2012

The COAST organisers have won a popular vote for the best festival in the area for 2011.  The charitable body that supports cultural organisations in the North-east, Creative Cultures Scotland, conducted a survey in 2011 to find the best events and projects, as voted by the public, and COAST came out top in the category of festivals.  Representatives from COAST picked up their certificate at a presentation in Aberdeen.  This year's festival will feature performances, exhibitions and entertainments in Banff and Macduff.

Duff House Open Day focuses on visitor experience
Mar 22nd 2012

A blanket invitation has gone out to local tourism-related businesses to the Duff House Open Day on Thursday 29th March - offering free all-day entry to the house and its grounds.  Special activities on the day include a journey into Banffshire's Jacobite history with the Alba Adventure Company, private guided tours of Duff House and VIP previews of this summer's 2012 ARTIST ROOM exibition.  Attendees will be given comprehensive information on Duff House's summer programme and special events, and a chance to win a free family ticket to an open-air show in the Duff House grounds featuring either a performance of Roald Dahl's hilarious children's story, "the Twits" or Gilbert & Sullivan's classic operetta "HMS Pinafore".  Guests will be welcome to bring along publicity material for their own businesses and encouraged to exchange views with fellow business people.  Places should be booked as soon as possible either by e-mail to duff.house@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or by calling Jo Edwards on 01261 813000.

Date stone uncovers the key to 17th century village life
Mar 6th 2012

An important relic from the 17th cenutry has been discovered in a garden in Banff.  A 1695 date stone found at Banff carries the initials of a former provost of the burgh and his wife.  Although the stone is broken and incomplete, it is likely to become a feature of a new folklore centre in the town.  Four pieces of the stone were found in a low wall in the grounds of Banff Castle after the structure was disturbed by workmen.  Investigations point to it being a stone once set into the wall of a long-demolished property at High Shore.  Four pieces of the stone have been found, and it is hoped that the rest can be traced.  The artefact is due to find a home at the new folklore centre at Banff Castle.

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.

Wartime Memorabilia on Display
Jan 31st 2012

A treasure trove of wartime memorabilia has gone on display at Duff House, Banff.  The exhibition includes historic documents, newspaper cuttings and artefacts from World War II.  A range of interpretive boards have also been set up to explain what life was like for the north-east during the 1930s and 1940s.  Duff House itself played a significant role in the war as a military base and prisoner of war camp.  The 18th-century house had been used as a hotel and sanatorium when it was handed over to the UK Government in 1940.  Initially it became an internment camp for people living in Britain who were believed to be a threat.  It was later used to hold prisoners of war.  In July 1940 it was attacked by a lone Heinkel HeIII bomber whose pilot had mistaken it for an allied base.  Six PoWs were killed in the raid.  The house was later used as a base for Scottish, English, Norwegian and French troops until the war ended.

Group Gears up for COAST Festival
Jan 26th 2012

A voluntary group of local residents, artists and community organisations are now hard at work preparing for COAST 2012.  The 5th COAST Festival will take place from Friday 25th May 2012 to Sunday 27th May 2012. 

The programme will contain a range of events, with the theme for the core events being "The Creative Individual".  The Festival will be presenting experienced artists, art students, the work of traditional artisans and the often unseen work of the home-based creator.  The "Show Your Hand" exhibition will feature artworks and artifacts showing traditional artisan skills, from ceramics and leatherwork, to enamelling to smithing.  The Festival will also have family fun events, including the ever popular sandcastle competition, the spectacular duck race, and a programme of hands-on workshops for all ages.  Brochures will be available at the end of April.

If you want to create an event, please contact the organisers at info@coastfestival.org.uk.

Entries sought for Exhibition of Traditional Craft Skills
Jan 19th 2012

An exhibition of traditional craft skills will be a major part of the annual COAST Arts Festival at Banff and Macduff in May 2012.  Banff and Buchan Arts Forum is now appealing for entries for Show Your Hand which will showcase traditional pursuits from ceramics to leather work and enamelling to blacksmithing.  This will be a major exhibition for the Festival and an important way to revealing the skills that are being lost.

Boyndie Trust Visitor Centre to be expanded
Jan 19th 2012

Work is expected to start soon on a £162,000 development to expand the interior of the Boyndie Trust Visitor Centre.  The popular centre provides training for about 60 people who are either unemployed or have learning difficulties.  It also features a shop, cafe, garden centre and an exhibit on RAF Banff, and its popularity has meant that the work is necessary for it to continue to grow.  The work will be a revamp of the inside of the centre to provide visitors with better access to it.  It will include creating more retail space and training facilities, and it will mean people will get to see a lot more of the centre.  The car park will also be extended to create about 20 extra spaces.  And it is hoped that more work placements for training will be available.  All of the funding is now in place (including almost £70,000 from the rural Aberdeenshire LEADER fund, other grant awards and the Trust itself), and the work is expected to start very early in the year. 

Group calls for return of the Mercat Cross
Jan 19th 2012

The Banff Preservation and Heritage Society is looking to bring one of the town's oldest existing artefacts back home.  A replica of the Mercat Cross now stands at the Low Street Plainstones; however the Society wants to bring the rare original (currently stored by the North East Scotland Preservation Trust) to the town's museum.  The Mercat Cross dates back to the 16th century and it was erected where the Biggar Fountain on the corner of Low Street now stands today.  In 1767 it was removed from the spot because of its size and interference with traffic, and its custody was given to the Earl of Fife.  He erected it on a hill at Sandyhill Road before it was re-sited at the Plainstones in 1900.  The base at Sandyhill Road remains and is a doocot.  In 1994, the Society created a replica of the cross and the original was then put in storage.  The Cross is a very rare piece in Scotland as it is one of the few remaining pre-Reformation crosses.

New Arts and Folklore Centre for Banff
Jan 19th 2012

A former stables block is the focus of plans for a £200,000 development at Banff Castle community centre.  The aim is to produce a cultural practice and performance area while preserving a part of Banff's buildings heritage.  Banff Community Association runs the castle - which is a mansion house - as a centre for local leisure and activity groups.  Both levels of the two-storey stables block will be used for the folklore centre and there are also plans for a cafe with access to a walled garden. 

Historic Scotland to take over running of Duff House
Jan 16th 2012

The management of Duff House will be transferred to Historic Scotland, who will also become responsible for the 25 staff.  Since 1992, Duff House has been run as a partnership by Aberdeenshire Council, Historic Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland.  Duff House had been threatened with closure over the winter months; however, it is hoped that this move will be the best way of securing and developing Duff House in the future.

Push for improvements at Banff conservation area
Jan 4th 2012

Moves are under way to identify a programme of improvements at the Scotstown cottages at Banff.  The houses were built in the 19th century to house fishermen from Portknockie who wanted to move to Banff.

Big cat hot spot
Nov 22nd 2011

The gruesome remains of a partly decomposed cat-like animal was photographed by a cyclist on the Banff to Aberchirder road, and published in the Banffshire Journal on November 22. It shows the head of the cat, which has extremely large teeth, and unusual ears and nose. The photo has been passed on to the  Big Cat Society for analysis.
Intriguingly, the location is very close to Cornhill, where there have been photographs taken of large black cats and Scottish wildcats in recent months.

New art space in Banff
Nov 21st 2011

An empty shop in Banff's Strait Path has been re-opened as a gallery and exhibition space, used by local artists.

Artists include illustrator Jimsin Vogel, metalworker Barry Twain from Gardenstown, and wildlife artistr Katy Rewston from Alvah, near Banff.

The rest of the shop will be used as a workspace by local film-maker and animator Dave Chisnall.

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.)

New Christmas lights
Oct 25th 2011

Macduff will be ablaze with a new set of Christmas lights this year, thanks to fundraising efforts by the Banff and Macduff Christmas Lights Association.

The lights in Banff and Macduff will be officially switched on at a ceremony on the Plainstones, on Low Street, Banff on the afternoon of Saturday November 27.

There will be stalls, Santa's grotto, horse and cart rides, Macduff RNLI, the coastguard and fire service. Music from the Banff Castle Pipe band, singers and a magician.

The event starts at 12.30pm, and the switch on is at 4.30pm.

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

Basking shark spotted
Sep 26th 2011

A basking shark has been spotted in Banff Bay, and photographed by a local man. An expert guessed the animal was a young male,which would probably make its way back to the Atlantic, where they are resident.

Cheaper public transport
Sep 6th 2011

Good news for the thousands of visitors who use service buses to get around.

The biggest bus operator in the North of Scotland is reducing the price of many of its multiple journey day tickets.

The firm is introducing a zonal system for calculating fares. One route to benefit is the service between Banff/Macduff/Turriff and Aberdeen, where weekly tickets are being reduced.

The company have also announced that they are freezing prices on their single and return ticket prices.

More details from the company's website: www.stagecoachbus.com

New book about Duff House
Aug 2nd 2011

 Duff House at War tells the eventful story of the stately home, now an art gallery and and restored stately home.The house was bombed by the Germans, ironically killing several German prisoners of war. As well as a prison, the house was used as an internment centre for foreigners at the start of the war, and to house Allied soldiers.

Duff House manager Rachel Kennedy is very excited about the new book, saying that it makes a significant contribution to local and national history. Duff House at War includes 40 pages of photographs, and includes memories of wartime residents. It is written by Allan Burnett.

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