For 65 years, holidaymakers have been reeled in by the charms of the coastal caravan park in the historic fishing community of Portsoy.
Portsoy Links Caravan Park, nestled in the picture-postcard perfect bay of the historic town, is celebrating 65 years of happy holidays.
In the summer months, Portsoy enjoys a thriving tourist industry as visitors walk in the footsteps of notorious smugglers, and soak up the atmosphere at the annual boat festival.
Join us as we take a step back in time marking more than six decades of happy camping at picturesque Portsoy.
This atmospheric photo of crashing waves and forboding skies at Portsoy in 1983, above, shows why seafarers and smugglers alike have sought the safe sanctuary of the historic harbour, which dates back to 1693.
The rugged Moray Firth coastline around the communities of Banff, Portsoy and Buckie meant there were plenty of coves and creeks for the illegal landing of coal and whisky in the 18th and 19th centuries.
But over the last 60 years, the spectacular shoreline has instead been a haven for holidaymakers and those seeking their own coastal adventures.
This photo, above, shows the early days of the caravan park at Portsoy Links not long after it opened in 1956.
The grassy area and playpark meant there was plenty of room for families to enjoy a summer holiday by the sea.
The caravan park at Portsoy opened in the post-war heyday of British seaside holidays, where families enjoyed getaways in Scotland in the days before package holidays.
Andrew Simpson, Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, said: “The people who opened the Portsoy caravan park in 1956 could scarcely have imagined just how popular caravanning would become and how demand for spaces would increase.
“Yet their initiative has given the area a fantastic resource that continues to give great pleasure to many.”
Another early photo of Portsoy Links, above, shows a view looking down on the caravan park from Schoolhendry Street.
The busy campsite is packed with cars, campers, caravans and canvas tents, while plenty of swimmers and sunbathers enjoy the beach behind.
Sixty-odd years on, little has changed in this view; clifftops of golden barley fields still overlook the caravan park, and the winding, coastal paths remain well-trodden.
And another thing that’s never changed at Portsoy Links is the warm welcome.
This archive photo above shows a very uniform line-up of caravans at the links in July 1967.
Just visible behind the cottage on the left is the gable of the old Salmon House, which was used as part of Portsoy’s historic salmon netting industry.
It ceased being used in 1990 and was empty until Portsoy Community Enterprise, which also owns the campsite, took over the premises in 2006, restoring it as a community facility called the Salmon Bothy.
The pleasant Portsoy Links and facilities such as the Salmon Bothy means the caravan park has attracted generations of campers and caravanners.
David Urquhart, chairman of Portsoy Community Enterprise, said: “You don’t get much closer to the sea than at Portsoy Links so it’s little wonder that people come back time and time again to our camp and caravan site.”
And, unsurprisingly, the Portsoy site has seen a revival during the pandemic, with a rise in visitors from Aberdeen and further afield, as people with a spirit of adventure choose to holiday closer to home.
Year after year, people have brought their children and then their grandchildren to the coastal paradise.
This vintage photo, above, shows a young visitor enjoying the sunshine and sea views of Portsoy in days gone by.
Site manager Ian Tillett believes it’s the uninterrupted seascape that has given the site its enduring appeal for nearly seven decades.
He said: “We’ve got great walks, the beach and sea, two harbours and Portsoy Salmon Bothy all within a short walk of the site.
“In the past year-and-a-half we have had many people visiting our site for the first time – or rediscovering it, having stayed closer to home for their holiday.”
The caravan park is only just visible on the left of this photo from 1979 which showcases the old harbour and historic townhouses.
The crashing waves, breathtaking views and sense of living history have also provided a backdrop for films including the 2016 remake of Whisky Galore!
A Press and Journal travel review of Portsoy published in 1987 described the town as “exuding an atmosphere of history” and that local people “had a very high sense of pride of place”.
And 65 years on, with no signs of retiring, the caravan park is certainly still the pride of Portsoy.
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