Lybster owes its existence to a member of one of the prominent families around these parts, the Sinclairs. General Patrick Sinclair, a local landowner, started Lybster as a planned village. He named part of the wide main street Quatre Bras (Four Arms) in honour of his sons, who fought at Waterloo. The village, which was once a major herring port, has a distinctive harbour, with a small inner harbour providing extra protection within the bigger harbour, which lies at the mouth of the Reisgill Burn. The original harbour was designed to take over 100 fishing boats, but at the height of the herring trade here there were nearly 300 boats operating in the area, with Germany being a particularly big export market for the local catch. Many of the coastal communities around Britain have a particular weather event which stands out in the collective past, and in Lybster's case it was a severe storm in 1847 during which seven local fishermen lost their lives and the harbour was badly damaged. The harbour was repaired and improved but there was further storm damage 30 years later. Lybster's herring trade was in decline by the end of the century.
There are some beautifully restored buildings by the side of Lybster harbour which house a visitor centre called Waterlines with an exhibition about the history, geology, wildlife etc. of the area, and a cafe downstairs. The exhibition includes a remote CCTV trained on the breeding bird colonies of the nearby cliffs which can be used to observe the birds going about their business. A book written by the local author Neil Gunn (see Dunbeath post) called The Silver Darlings was made into a film in 1947, which was partly shot in Lybster.
Map of the area.