Johnshaven is a charming fishing village nestled on the seashore, almost hidden from sight from the road above. The village is centered around the traditional working harbour with low buildings and narrow streets leading from the harbour, interlinked by wee paths or stair wells. It is a lovely place to explore to see how wee scottish villages were laid out in olden times as little has changed over the years!
There is a palpable community spirit in Johnshaven with many events creating a buzz throughout the year. The Fish festival, in August, is a fantastic event where the locals pull out all the stops to have a fun day complete with stalls, raft race ands kids activities. The musical event ‘Yellow on the Broom’ in May and the fireworks ‘spectacular’ in January are also highlights.
The north of the village has a bowling green and putting as well as a great kids playground. For walkers there is a coastal path which extends for many miles north and south, perfect for taking in the sea air. Also the old railway line is a very pleasant walk and gives a loftier view of the sea and surrounds.
The Salmon Bothy was originally used in the fishing industry and sits inside the conservation area with a former drying green for fishing nets to the front and the narrow streets to the back. The Bothy had fallen into disuse and been converted into a dwelling house many years prior to it becoming a holiday home.
History of the Salmon Bothy
Johnshaven has a long tradition of fishing and trade and is said to date from as far back as medieval times or longer. The settlement grew around a natural harbour with much of the street layout you see today dating from the middle of the 16th century. However, it was not until the 18th century that it became a feature in the history books.
In 1722 there were 26 boats with at least 130 fishermen and by 1800 there was a population of 1000. Many of the buildings from this time still remain and indeed serve the same function. For example, the ‘Ship Inn’ is still one of the local hostelries where you can get a drink like they did over a hundred years ago.
The coastguard station you can see at the harbour was built in 1867 and the coastguard house in 1869. The harbour itself was improved with the building of the pier in 1871 and the dock in 1884 and has changed little since then.
Although there was a massive decline in fishing in the whole of the north east in the mid to late 20th century, Johnshaven still has a commercial fleet fishing for lobster and shell fish. The buildings at the north side of the harbour used for packing the catch are still in use today, as has always been.