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The Out About Scotland complete guide to Cullen
Category: Beach, Landscape, Walk or cycle route
Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 8 out of 10
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 giving out quite a few little ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s as I walked around the village and its quiet, windswept beach.
This part of the Banffshire coast in Moray 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.
Read on to learn more about this pretty village and coastline.
Things to do at Cullen
To truly appreciate this part of Banffshire you’ll be well rewarded with a walk up the community-made path that leads up 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 of not only the beach, but also the impressive Links Golf Course and the massive geological 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, but 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 in 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 meal made with smoked haddock, potatoes, onions and milk, and has become so popular there’s even a Cullen Skink World Championships held in Cullen in November. If you’ve never tried this soup before I seriously recommend you go out and get some as soon as possible because it’s absolutely delicious.
What I liked about this attraction
- The beach is great to walk along
- It’s a lovely, quaint village to explore
- There are amazing views from Castle Hill
My top tips
- I recommend you stick your bike in the car and cycle along the North Sea cycle route. There are gorgeous views to be found throughout this part of Scotland
- Combine a visit to Cullen with Portsoy which is just down the road
- Get a good quality map so you can explore the surrounding area. Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
Photos and video
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Address and directions map
Map of Cullen attractions
Google map embedded from the Discover Cullen website.
Prices and opening times
There is no charge to visit Cullen village although car parking charges may apply. The village is open to tourists at all times of the year.
- Telephone: NA
- email: NA
- Website: Discover Cullen
Getting there: Bus stop nearby, Car park on-site
Getting around: Easy-access paths, Disabled access, Pushchair access, Uneven paths on the beach
On-site conveniences: Hot drinks, Picnic area, Restaurant, Snacks, Toilets