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Last updated on March 24th, 2021
Although the fishing village of Cullen in Moray is famous for it’s Cullen Skink soup, visitors can also enjoy its golden beaches and extensive golf course.
Review of Cullen
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.
Read on to learn more about this quaint village and coastline.
Things to do in Cullen
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 massive 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 dish made with smoked haddock, potatoes, onions and milk, and it’s so popular there’s even a Cullen Skink World Championships held in Cullen annually in November.
- The beach is great to walk along. It’s very clean, wide and unspoilt, although there are a couple of sections where the sand gives way to shingle.
- Cullen is a lovely, quaint village to explore with a couple of decent pubs in the centre.
- There are amazing views from Castle Hill. Follow the community-made path from the viaduct.
- 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 a few miles to the west or Duff House which you’ll find a 20-minute drive to the east.
- Get a good quality map so you can explore the surrounding area. Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
Things to do near Cullen
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 who look after the extensive collection of portraits that are on display. Visitors can explore the house and grounds on a self-guided tour.
- 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.
- 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.
Address and map
Map of Cullen attractions
Google map embedded from the Discover Cullen website.
Tickets 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
Photos and video
More places to visit in Grampian
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- The Speyside Malt Whisky TrailSpeyside is famous within whisky-drinking circles for having the largest number of operational distilleries out of all six whisky-producing regions, with two of the most-consumed brands in the world originating from the area.
- The Complete Guide to Free Attractions in Aberdeenshire and MorayFind a great selection of free attractions with my list of the best free attractions in Aberdeenshire and Moray
- The Banff Heritage Trail – Aberdeenshire: Complete Visitor GuideThere’s a huge amount of history in this little town including a pre-reformation market cross, a tollbooth, the gorgeous 18th-century Duff House, and of course the lovely harbour which now mainly serves leisure craft.
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