Gardenstown is one of three villages eking out an existence below the cliffs along this north facing Aberdeenshire coast. It is found clinging to the terraced ledges that descend the steep south-east side of Gamrie Bay.
Visible to the east, on the far side of the same bay is Crovie, perched even more precariously on a narrow ledge along the base of the cliff. On the far side of Troup Head to the east is the third of this collection, Pennan, which has its own distinctive character.
Gardenstown is the largest and the most stable of the three villages: though it still clings in the unlikeliest of ways to niches in the cliffs along and above the bay. Its west end, Seatown, actually looks and feels a little like Crovie, but the heart of the village is built on a broader ledge and surrounds the fairly substantial harbour.
Originally known as Gamrie, Gardenstown was founded in 1720 by Alexander Garden specifically as a fishing village. On the hillside to the west, and visible from most parts of Gardenstown, are the remains of the Church of St John the Evangelist. This predates the village, being built in 1513, and celebrates an even earlier event, the defeat of the Danes here in 1004.
By the 1920s Gardenstown and Crovie together housed around 250 fishermen and 50 fishing boats were based here. This number declined over the following years in the face of competition from the larger and more effective vessels that could operate from other ports.
Gardenstown grew at Crovie's expense after the great storm of 31 January 1953. This washed away the path between the villages together with stretches of Crovie's sea defences, and a number of houses and sheds. Crovie ceased to be viable almost immediately, and many residents moved to Gardenstown.
Gardenstown has tended to grow upwards. The oldest cottages and other buildings are next to the sea, while newer additions are layered up the cliffs, culminating with the new housing and development that has taken place on the level ground above the cliffs. This steady growth has helped ensure a continuity of services and as a result Gardenstown continues to be a living and thriving village.