Aberdour is a scenic and historic village on the south coast of Fife, Scotland. It is on the north shore of the Firth of Forth, looking south to the island of Inchcolm and its Abbey, and to Leith and Edinburgh beyond. According to the 2006 population estimate, the village has a population of 1,680.
The village’s winding High Street lies a little inland from the coast. Narrow lanes run off it, providing access to the more hidden parts of the village and the shoreline itself. The village nestles between the bigger coastal towns of Burntisland to the east and Dalgety Bay to the west.
The origins of the village lie with its harbour, where the Dour Burn enters the River Forth. The place-name itself is Pictish, implying an origin in the Dark Ages: ‘aber‘ confluence’. The -dour element, referring to the Burn, means simply ‘water’ and is unconnected to the Scots/English ‘dour’. For much of its history Aberdour was two villages, Wester Aberdour and Easter Aberdour, on either side of the Dour Burn. Although this distinction was blurred by the 19th century arrival of the railway.
In the 18th century Aberdour’s harbour was improved by the addition of a stone pier to help handle the coal traffic from nearby collieries. However, in the 1850s the traffic changed dramatically, and Aberdour Harbour became a popular destination for pleasure steamers from Leith. This in turn led to the building of a deeper water pier a little around the bay at Hawkcraig, and to the development of hotels and many of the other services still on view today in the village.
The railway came to Aberdour in 1890, with the building of the line east from the newly opened Forth Bridge. The station has won many “best kept station” awards. The half an hour journey to the centre of Edinburgh helped build on the existing popularity of the village, though it put the steamers out of business. The main result was a growth in the building of large and attractive houses, especially down the hill from Wester Aberdour to the West Sands. Ticket inspectors on the train line through Aberdour were known for their sing song refrain: “Half an hour, Half an hour, Half an hour to Aberdour – tickets please.”
Aberdour has a very popular yearly festival, which runs from late July to early August and features musical events, shows, sporting events and children’s events. It is now in its 27th year and is most notable for its marquee on the silver sands playing fields. The festival hosts a number of children’s,cultural and local events.
Aberdour was a 2005 finalist in the prestigious “Beautiful Scotland in Bloom” awards. It was nominated for “Best Coastal Resort” in Scotland along with St Andrewsin Fife, North Berwick in East Lothian, and Rothesay in Argyll and Bute.
Aberdour has two beaches – the Silver Sands, and the Black Sands.
The Silver Sands are located on the East side of the village, and are one of Scotland’s seven “Blue flag” awarded beaches, which denotes an exemplary standard of cleanliness, facilities, safety, environmental education and management. New facilities are currently under construction by Fife Council, which will much improve the beach throughout the year.
The Black Sands, as the contrasting name would suggest, have a rockier and darker sand, and are also popular with visitors exploring the rock caves and fascinating sea life. During the summer months (April–September), dogs are banned from the Silver Sands but they are allowed all year round at the Black Sands. The two beaches are linked by part of the Fife Coastal Path which also takes you past the harbour and the Hawkcraig – a popular rock climbing location.