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Looking east across Cullen Bay from the Moray Coast Path
Looking east across Cullen Bay from the Moray Coast Path

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Route No. 595 - Monday 21 September 2015
Findochty, Moray Coast Trail, Portknockie,
Cullen (linear walk, return by bus) - 7km
Moray Firth, Scotland . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 425 Huntly & Cullen


Walking through Findochty along the Moray Coast Trail from our holiday cottage
Walking through Findochty along the Moray Coast Trail from our holiday cottage

The harbour at Findochty
The harbour at Findochty

Following the Moray Coast Train out of Findochty
Following the Moray Coast Train out of Findochty

Signs at the end of Duke Street
Signs at the end of Duke Street

Today we plan to walk along the Moray Coast Trail to Cullen. We set off from our cottage and walked past the harbour (map ref.NJ 462 679). We followed the village streets around the coast. Just beyond the harbour we joined Sterlochy Street and continued along The Hythe and then along Duke Street to the edge of the village where there is a sign post for the Moray Coast Trail.

My wife & I are on holiday in Scotland. We spent a few days in Dunblane and now we are staying in a holiday cottage in Findochty on the coast of the Moray Firth. It's a little fishing village with a pretty harbour. The old form of the village name is 'Finechty' and that's how local people still pronounce the village name.

Looking back along the road around the harbour
Looking back along the road around the harbour

Looking back along Duke Street
Looking back along Duke Street

Turning right to follow the path around Sandy Creek beach
Turning right to follow the path around Sandy Creek beach

Sandy Creek beach on the edge of Findochty
Sandy Creek beach on the edge of Findochty

Path around Sandy Creek beach
Path around Sandy Creek beach

Following the Moray Coast Trail up the cliffs
Following the Moray Coast Trail up the cliffs

View point on the cliff top
View point on the cliff top

Here we joined a gravel footpath and cycleway along the route of a disused railway. The views from this cliff top path were lovely. It's a rocky coast with the vast expanse of the Moray Firth out to the horizon.

We followed the trail around a beach called Sandy Creek. We followed the narrow path up a steep climb to the top of the cliffs.

Following the Moray Coast Trail up the cliffs
Following the Moray Coast Trail up the cliffs

Looking back to Sandy Creek beach from the cliff top
Looking back to Sandy Creek beach from the cliff top

The ubiquitous Sustrans route marker on the cliff top
The ubiquitous Sustrans route marker on the cliff top

Inshore fishing boat at work
Inshore fishing boat at work

Cliff top path heading for Portknockie
Cliff top path heading for Portknockie

Ahead of us the village of Portknockie came into view. We followed the path down the slope to the edge of the village with a fine view of the harbour below us.

We saw inshore fishing boats at work along the coast and several people in canoes exploring the rocky bays. We followed the path around Tronach Head

Canoeists exploring the rocky inlets
Canoeists exploring the rocky inlets

Arriving at the edge of Portknockie
Arriving at the edge of Portknockie

The rocky shore of the Moray Firth seem from the cliff top path
The rocky shore of the Moray Firth seem from the cliff top path

Following Harbour Road through Portknockie
Following Harbour Road through Portknockie

The fishermen's memorial in Portknockie
The fishermen's memorial in Portknockie

We kept left at this fork in the road
We kept left at this fork in the road

From the memorial we followed Patrol Road past The Fishermens Hall to a fork in the road where we took the left hand fork down past a couple of small boats by the roadside.

The path led us into a street called Cliff Terrace and then into Harbour Road (B9021). At the end of this road we had a look at a poignant memorial to the fishermen of the village lost at sea.

The harbour at Portknockie
The harbour at Portknockie

The Fishermen's Hall in Portknockie
The Fishermen's Hall in Portknockie

Just beyond these boats we turned left to Bow Fiddle Rock
Just beyond these boats we turned left to Bow Fiddle Rock

Cormorants and a few herring gulls on a rock just off-shore
Cormorants and a few herring gulls on a rock just off-shore

The cliff top path to Bow Fiddle Rock
The cliff top path to Bow Fiddle Rock

We followed the path along the cliff top and came to the 'Bow Fiddle Rock'. It does look very much like a fiddle or maybe a banjo, with the sound box at the top and the long neck running down to the wider end where the strings are anchored at the tuning keys.

Just beyond these boats the path turned left signed to Bow Fiddle Rock. We followed this path out to the cliff top where there is a view of the rocky outcrops just off shore. There we numerous sea birds perched along the tops of the rocks, mostly herring gulls and many cormorants - there must be a good supply of fish here!

Approaching the cliff top path
Approaching the cliff top path

The Bow Fiddle Rock seen from the cliff top path
The Bow Fiddle Rock seen from the cliff top path

The Bow Fiddle Rock seen from the cliff top path
The Bow Fiddle Rock seen from the cliff top path

More cormorants
More cormorants

Start of the path down the cliffs
Start of the path down the cliffs

The cliff top route is the only safe route when the tide is coming in. The left hand fork follows a diagonal route down the cliffs and becomes a grassy track at the foot of the cliffs next to the rocky shore. It was close to low water with the expanse of the sandy beach of Cullen Bay exposed so we took the path down the cliff.

From the Bow Fiddle Rock we continued along the cliff top path round the headland and to a seat with a lovely view across Cullen Bay. We stopped here for a while just to enjoy the view. Just beyond the seat the path forks. The right hand fork continues along the cliff top to Cullen.

Looking back to the Bow Fiddle Rock from the cliff top path
Looking back to the Bow Fiddle Rock from the cliff top path

Enjoying the view across Cullen Bay
Enjoying the view across Cullen Bay

Path down the cliffs to the beach
Path down the cliffs to the beach

Path around the foot of the cliffs into Cullen Bay
Path around the foot of the cliffs into Cullen Bay

Path around the foot of the cliffs into Cullen Bay
Path around the foot of the cliffs into Cullen Bay

There is a pair of standing rocks, one wide & one narrow just off the promenade at the edge of the village and we made our way on to the promenade here.

We made our way past the rocks on the shore until we came to the sandy beach. From there we cut across the sand towards Cullen village.

Path around the foot of the cliffs into Cullen Bay
Path around the foot of the cliffs into Cullen Bay

Approaching Cullen along the beach
Approaching Cullen along the beach

The beach in Cullen Bay at low water
The beach in Cullen Bay at low water

Path from the car park by the railway viaduct
Path from the car park by the railway viaduct

Path up the hillside to join Seafield Street
Path up the hillside to join Seafield Street

The bus stop is here and several shops. We caught the no 35 Stagecoach Bluebird bus here back to Findochty. The buses we every 30 minutes just after the hour & half hour. You can plan your journey on the Traveline Scotland web site.

We followed the path across the car park below the railway viaduct and across a footbridge over the Burn of Cullen. We followed the road around the sea front to the harbour and then turned up the hill to walk up Seafield Street to The Square.

The railway viaduct where it crosses the Burn of Cullen
The railway viaduct where it crosses the Burn of Cullen

Bus stop in The Square at Cullen
Bus stop in The Square at Cullen

Looking over Cullen from the start of Seafield Street
Looking over Cullen from the start of Seafield Street

Path from the car park at Barnyards of Findlater
Path from the car park at Barnyards of Findlater

The farm track from the car park meets the cliff top path
The farm track from the car park meets the cliff top path

Remains of Findlater Castle
Remains of Findlater Castle

In the afternoon we drove to the car park at a farmstead called Barnyards of Findlater (map ref.NJ 540 665) From there we walked along the farm access track to the coast overlooking Findlater Castle. It's a fascinating structure perched on a rocky headland and apparently totally inaccessible but an earlier fortress here was once captured by the Vikings and occupied by them for a while. It was a wet and windy afternoon now and we retreated back to our car after a very interesting visit.

The Moray Coast Trail ends in Cullen but a path continues around the cliff top from Cullen past Logie Head and Findlater Castle to Sandend where you can join the same no 35 bus route back to the start of the walk. This extension would just about double the length of the walk to about 14km. We took the bus back to Findochty from Cullen and had a very nice lunch in our holiday cottage.


Unusual building in a field by the path

Remains of Findlater Castle
Remains of Findlater Castle

My wife waiting on the cold, wet, windy cliff top path
My wife waiting on the cold, wet, windy cliff top path

Remains of Findlater Castle rebuilt in late 1300's. An earlier castle here was captured & occupied by the Vikings in the late 1200's
Remains of Findlater Castle rebuilt in late 1300's. An earlier castle here was captured & occupied by the Vikings in the late 1200's

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