Name a Scottish coastal town. I imagine you are thinking of somewhere like Oban, Ullapool or Saint Andrew's. Did you think of Cullen? I don't think it is on the radar for many visitors, but it should be and this is why:
Beaches, the sea, the harbour
They are the building blocks of a great coastal town. Cullen has the beautiful beaches, the harbour with the bobbing boats and the sea views.
Seatown is an area of Cullen that once housed a fishing community when the town was a major fishing port. It is characterised by small cottages, many brightly painted with front doors that open directly onto the winding streets.
The dense form of Seatown makes it difficult to drive through, so it is a pleasure to wander here, uninterrupted by traffic. I will always remember the smell of the salty sea mixed with freshly laundered clothes on washing lines.
The Ice Cream Shop
You expect to get a good ice cream in a coastal town. The Ice Cream Shop on Seafield Street does a fine range of flavours. I tried both the rum and raisin, and the coffee. The coffee one, laced with chocolate chips, was particularly delicious. For the perfect spot to eat your cone head to the nearby benches that overlook Seatown and the harbour.
Cullen Skink at the Cullen Bay Hotel
Seafood is the other type of cuisine that a coastal town should do well, and Cullen has a major claim to fame in that department. Cullen Skink, the famous Scottish dish of fish, potatoes and cream, was created here. The Cullen Bay Hotel does one of the best I have tasted and it is also the host venue of the World Cullen Skink Championships. I stayed at the hotel and you can read my review.
Cullen is a bit of a treasure trove for antique lovers with Shops like Cullen Antiques Centre and Bits N' Bobs packed with curiosities, like these vintage bicycles in the photo.
The Moray Coast Railway must have been one of the most scenic lines in the country, until it was closed in the 1960s. One very visible legacy of the railway is the viaducts in Cullen. They provide a spectacular focal point in the town and you can still walk or ride a bike across them to experience the views that train passangers would have enjoyed.
Deskford Church and Garden Galleries
Around 4 miles south of Cullen there is a ruined sixteenth century church with a beautiful carved Sacrament House. Nearby is the Deskford Garden Galleries with antiques, art and a wonderful vintage tea room experience. Read my blog about this place to find out more.
Bow Fiddle Rock
One of Scotland's most spectacular coastal rock formations is just a 15 minute bike ride from Cullen. The rock is located closer to the next town, Portknockie, but is very easy to visit from Cullen. My blog on the Bow Fiddle Rock gives you a good idea of what it is like to experience this place.
How to get to Cullen
Cullen is on National Cycle Network Route One, but if you are not doing that route the best way to reach the town is from Keith. There's a train station here and it is a 14 mile ride using quiet B-roads to get to Cullen. There is a full description of this route in my blog about the Willows Tearoom.