By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents
- Tourist information
- Things to do nearby
- Tourist map of Scotland
- Frequently asked questions
Although the fishing village of Cullen in Moray is famous for its Cullen Skink soup, visitors can also enjoy its golden beaches and extensive golf course.
Discover this hidden gem in Banffshire with this guide which includes an overview and good-to-know visiting advice.
1: The beach is a great place to go for a walk. It’s clean, wide and unspoilt, although there are a couple of patches where the sand gives way to shingle.
2: Cullen is a lovely, quaint village and has a couple of decent cafes in the centre.
3: There are amazing views from Castle Hill. To reach the top follow the community-made path from the viaduct.
1: I recommend you stick your bike in the car and cycle along the North Sea Coast cycle route. There’s a good resource page about it on the Komoot website.
3: Attractions in this part of Scotland are rather spread out, so you might consider purchasing a decent map to find places of interest. Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
While most visitors to Cullen will undoubtedly have an ‘ah, of course…!’ moment when they realise this pretty little village is actually the birthplace of Cullen Skink soup, they’ll likely have several more unexpected outbursts once they start roaming the gorgeous coastline that borders the village.
Cullen is a lovely little coastal hamlet and I found myself making quite a few ‘ah’s’ as I walked around the village and its quiet, windswept beach.
This part of the Banffshire coast has been attracting tourists for many years thanks to attractions like nearby Portsoy with its historic 17th-century fishing harbour, but there’s plenty to discover in Cullen beyond its links to the delicious soup that it’s famed for.
You’ll find loads of great walks starting out from this village with the simple trail along Cullen Bay being one of the best.
Starting at the harbour you can turn left or right and stroll along the beach in either direction or head slightly inland to join the Sustrans and North Sea cycle networks.
The official Discover Cullen website has a good selection of maps and walk descriptions so you might want to have a look at it before you head out.
To truly appreciate this part of Banffshire you’ll be well rewarded with a walk up the community-made path that leads to the top of Castle Hill.
From here you can look out over Seatown and Cullen Bay from what was once the site of an 11th-century fort, and panoramic views across the village give you an appreciation not only of the beach but also the impressive Links Golf Course and the huge rock stacks on the beach known as The Three Kings.
The beach is a great place to hunt around in the rockpools for any animals that the retreating tide has left behind.
If you turn around and look out to sea you might be lucky enough to see some other residents that Cullen’s coastline is home to, notably the bottle-nosed dolphins which can often be seen leaping and playing close to the shore.
Turn back towards the village and you can’t fail to notice the mighty Victorian viaduct that was completed in 1886 by the Great North of Scotland Railway Company.
Although the railway line closed in 1968 it’s now incorporated into a coastal footpath to Portknockie, and also forms part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network and the North Sea Cycle Route.
The path across the viaduct offers views over the village that easily rival those on Castle Hill so if you have the time try to take a walk across it if you don’t have your bike with you.
Looking back towards the sea you can view Cullen harbour which was built in the early 19th century and was designed by Thomas Telford.
While the harbour saw a great deal of activity during this time from fishing vessels bringing in barrel after barrel of herring, these days it’s mainly used by pleasure craft and anglers.
Fishing has been a part of the Cullen way of life for over 500 years and at one time there were three large curing houses exporting smoked haddock to Europe and beyond, so it’s not surprising that this little village is the birthplace of one of the most mouth-watering delicacies in Scotland – Cullen Skink.
This thick and creamy soup is a traditional Scottish dish made with smoked haddock, potatoes, onions and milk, and it’s so popular there’s even a Cullen Skink World Championship held in Cullen annually in November.
Things to do nearby
Map of attractions
Click the map for details
Google map embedded from the Discover Cullen website.
1: Portsoy Harbour. Shore St, Portsoy, Banff AB45 2RX. 10-minute drive.
A small but historically significant harbour that was originally built to service the export of marble which Portsoy became famous for.
Today the harbour is a popular recreation spot and the location of a major annual sailboat festival.
2: Castle Hill. Cullen, Buckie AB56 4SD. 10-minute walk.
A natural domed hill just outside of Cullen village that has a community-managed path to the top.
There is a viewing platform on the top of the hill that offers visitors superb views of the Aberdeenshire coastline.
3: Duff House. Banff AB45 3SX. 21-minute drive.
A grand Georgian country house set in magnificently manicured grounds.
The house is under the management of Historic Environment Scotland and also the National Galleries of Scotland which look after the extensive collection of portraits that are on display. Visitors can explore the house and grounds on a self-guided tour.
4: Bin of Cullen. Buckie AB56 4BA. 14-minute drive.
A dome-shaped hill that rises 320 metres through woodland to the south of Cullen.
There is a zig-zagging track to the summit that is partially accessible by car but beyond the entrance marked ‘Seafield Estate’ it is frequently used by mountain bikers so walkers must take care.
5: Sunnyside Beach. Buckie AB56 4SS. 30-minute walk.
A secluded beach to the east of Cullen that can only be accessed by following a footpath that runs along the coastline or a narrow track that threads through fields.
The beach is surrounded by low cliffs on each side and there is a winding path that offers clifftop walks between Cullen and the small village of Sandend.
Tourist map of Scotland
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Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:
Huntly & Cullen – 425 Explorer.
Banff & Huntley – 29 Landranger.
OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
Frequently asked questions
Is Cullen worth visiting?
Cullen is definitely worth visiting. The beach is one of the nicest in Moray, the historic village has cafés selling the famed Cullen Skink broth, there are lots of coastal walks, and the area is well known for its mild microclimate caused by its position near the Grampian Hills.
Address: Moray, AB56 4SG.
Directions map: Google Maps
Who built Cullen viaduct?
Cullen viaduct was built in 1886 by the Great North of Scotland Railway Company.
Does Cullen have a beach?
Cullen in Moray has a large golden beach located west of the village in front of the Cullen Links golf course.
Is Cullen beach dog friendly?
Cullen beach is dog friendly and canine companions are allowed on it throughout the year. However, dog owners are asked to be responsible and pick up their dog’s mess.
Dog bins are located at the eastern end of the beach towards the viaduct.