Crovie is built on a remarkably narrow ledge between the base of the cliffs forming the east side of Gamrie Bay and the sea. It sits looking across the bay to the rather larger and more securely located village of Gardenstown.
Crovie is unique. There may be other villages where the use of motor vehicles is discouraged. But as far as we know there's nowhere else in mainland Britain where it is simply impossible to use one. The shelf on which the village is perched is so narrow it only has room for a row of cottages and the footpath in front of them. Only a few feet from the cottages is the drop to the rocky foreshore and the sea.
Residents leave their cars at the south end of the village and walk. Visitors are strongly encouraged not to drive down to the village itself. There is a car park and viewpoint on the cliffs above, complete with an attractive wooden sculpture of a woman. However it is a fair walk from there down to and (especially) back up from the village. A better bet is the car park just above the final hairpin bend descending to the shore. From here steps and a path lead to the harbour area in the centre of Crovie.
Crovie itself was established by families cleared from inland estates in the late eighteenth century. Having been moved off their land to make way for their landlord's sheep, they then had the pleasure of operating fishing boats owned by the landlord, largely for his benefit and entirely at their risk. By the mid nineteenth century some fishermen had built their own boats, and by the end of the century some fifty such owner-operated boats sailed from Crovie.
The first half of the twentieth century saw a gradual decline in Crovie's fishing fleet in the face of competition from the larger, more effective vessels that could operate from other ports. However, the end of Crovie's fishing industry came, finally and abruptly, on 31 January 1953.
A storm that had been building since the previous night brought hurricane force winds and huge seas to the village. The path to Gardenstown was washed away (it has since been replaced), together with stretches of Crovie's sea defences and a number of houses and sheds. The village ceased to be viable almost immediately, and many residents simply moved round the bay to Gardenstown.
Crovie was left largely to be developed as holiday lets, and today it is a much more active place in the summer than at other times of the year. The restrictions placed by its location on development throughout its history, plus the halt to commercial activity in 1953, have left Crovie as one of the best preserved fishing villages in Europe.
How you feel about Crovie will probably depend on the sort of day you find it on. It can be an enchanting place, though with its backdrop of lumpy cliffs it will probably never really qualify as beautiful. But find it on a day when the sea is being pushed into the bay by a northerly gale and it is an altogether more exciting place to be.
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