12 Apr

Coastal Walk: Moray Firth, Scotland

A Stunning Coastal Walk for a Healthy Dose of Sea Air in Scotland

Make your way along the Moray Firth coast in Scotland for a two-hour walking track over golden sands, rugged cliff sides picturesque villages and ancient castles.

The route
Start from the harbour in Cullen and head west through Seatown, crossing the Cullen Burn to reach the car park for the golf course. Depending on the tide, you can descend some steps from here to access Cullen Bay (look for the Three Kings rock stacks on the seashore). At the end of the bay, follow the path around the cliff base to a grassland area, where you’ll pass the waters of Jenny’s Well and see a cave called Whale’s Mou (or Mouth). At the cave, climb the three hundred or so steps up the cliff. Turn right and follow the path to the headland. Then turn left along the clifftops and you’ll see the quartzite arch, Bow Fiddle Rock. Follow the path down to a cove and turn left for Portknockie, to bus it back to Cullen.

Walk highlights
In four short miles, you will pass through pretty fishing villages (where the cottages stand gable-end to the sea), stride over the golden sands of Cullen Bay and then marvel at the pierced silhouette of Bow Fiddle Rock – a collapsed, slanting cave, said to resemble a figure playing the violin.

Views along the way
In spring, there are herbs and wild flowers in bloom, such as sweet cicely and meadowsweet, in the grassland. While looking east from the headland above Portknockie, it’s possible to see Troup Head, near the mouth of the Moray Firth, which is home to Scotland’s only mainland gannet colony. Across the water, the hills of Sutherland and Easter Ross should be visible in the distance.

This area is famous for its dolphins, which could be frolicking close to shore at this time of year. Seabirds, such as razorbills, nest in the rock faces at Cullen Bay. Or you may spot linnets and skylarks hovering above the heather-clad clifftops.

A taste of Whiskey in May
If you go in the spring, there is the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival from 1-5 May, with tastings, concerts and ceilidhs. See www.spiritofspeyside.com for details.

Something for kids
Cullen Bay is safe for beach games and swimming. And just try keeping them away from The Ice Cream Shop in Cullen.

How to get there?
The nearest train station is in Elgin – catch the 305 bus from the centre of town to Cullen. The same bus stops at Portknockie, to take you back to your starting point (www.stagecoachbus.com).

Where to stay
Built by the Earl of Seafield in 1822 and restored in 1972 by the present Earl, The Seafield Arms Hotel in Cullen offers 22 en-suite rooms plus a restaurant (01542 840791, www.theseafieldarms.co.uk).


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