On the northern coast of Scotland, just about an hour's drive from Aberdeen, is a small village called Pennan. For hundreds of years, Pennan was primarily a small fishing village with only a small, single row of homes and just one hotel. All of this changed in the early 1980's when the village was used as the main filming location for the movie Local Hero. Since that time, visitors have come in fairly large numbers to see the village, explore the country side around it, and spend a bit of their holiday time in a place that is as quiet and peaceful as any you will find anywhere else in Scotland.
When visitors first come to Pennan, they are usually very surprised at just how small and narrow the strip of land is where the village is located. It is literally nestled (some would say precariously) between the sea itself and a high, rugged cliff of the type that can be found in a number of places along the north coastline of Aberdeenshire. At first it's hard to imagine that people have lived in this area of Aberdeenshire dating as far back as the Bronze Age beginning in about 3000 B.C., but when you consider the toughness and rugged nature of Scotland's population throughout history it becomes a lot easier to understand why Pennan has a long history of existence.
Pennan is a lovely place in the summertime, with green hills and blue skies; in the winter time, however, it is quite a different story. Because of its north facing location Pennan is subjected to some of the fiercest winter storms, hitting the village head on and at full strength. Life for village residents has always been very hard because of this, and Pennan has struggle to survive and many points in its long history.
Then came the film Local Hero. The movie made the most of Pennan's spectacular scenery and wild landscapes, and the popularity of the movie led to many tourists wanting to visit the lovely little town. One of the most prominent features of the film, a bright red public telephone box, was particularly popular for visitors to visit and even have their picture taken alongside it. At the time the movie was filmed the red telephone box was installed as just a temporary prop, but with its tremendous popularity and the number of people coming to Pennan looking specifically for it, the village quickly found a way to have a nearly perfect copy of the film's telephone box installed on nearly the same location where it appeared in the film. Today it is a real, working telephone box that is still a "must see" spot for visitors to Pennan.
Traditionally, Pennan was a small fishing village and its harbour served as a small port along the northern coast of Scotland. Today it is designated as a conservation village; there are still a few fishermen operating out of the harbour and it continues to play a small role as a port location in northern Scotland. Most of the town's residents now focus on providing tourist services and working to fulfill the conservation designation of the village.
Most holiday visitors to Pennan also fill their time enjoying the plentiful wildlife that can be found in and around the village, both immediately onshore and visible offshore from the top of the high cliff. They may also make Pennan the first stop in a broader exploration of the area that includes other scenic villages such as Gardenstown and Crovie. There is even an historic battle site, St. John's Kirk, located within easy access distance from Pennan. All in all, a visit to Pennan is an experience you are not likely to forget anytime soon!