Helen Rose’s Outdoor Diary, Moray Coast and Cullen.

Findhorn Harbour

 September 2023

In the summer, a group was booked for the Moray Coastal Trail based in Cullen.  The Moray Coastal Trail in Gaelic Moireibh or Moireabh lies in the north-east of Scotland, with a coastline on the Moray Firth. The National Geographic named the area as one of the top twenty coastlines in the world! It was a privilege to visit it. Most of the group travelled by the Citylink coach from Glasgow to Aberdeen, a journey of over 3 hours. We changed in Aberdeen to a local bus for more than two hours further travel – it was an interesting journey passing through little fishing villages and towns such as MacDuff and Portsoy. Some of the summer flowers were blooming and I liked these South African Daisies at Findhorn.

Moray Coastal Trail

The coastline and settlements of Moray are linked by way of a marked coastal trail of approximately 50 miles from Findhorn to Cullen and all the places between. We were based at Cullen but travelled mainly via Elgin to the various points where we would walk the trail. We did not aim to do the full coastal trail but only three sections. Along the trail there are interesting rock formations.

Findhorn Foundation

On the first day we travelled to Findhorn but before starting the trail, we visited the Findhorn Foundation It is a village of like- minded people with shared values and created in the 1980s as an eco-village, part of a movement worldwide. It is a logical development of the community’s work with spirit and nature. There is now a greater variety of eco buildings including homes made of recycled whisky barrels.

There is a pioneering biological sewage treatment plant, The Living Machine, which was the first in Europe. I noted the extensive use of solar panels on the roofs.

Findhorn to Burghead

From the Foundation, we walked in to the fishing village of Findhorn on our first part of the Moray Coastal Trail. In the harbour I noticed a dog on a paddleboard which amused me as dog paddling! From the village, it was difficult to find the start of the walk but after consulting locals we reached the sand dunes where the pathway was marked.

We were walking fairly briskly as we had to catch a bus from Burghead back to Cullen. It was pleasant walking on the dunes in good weather looking out to sea.

Eventually, we reached a forest path marked as the Burma Road built by prisoners of war. It winds between a strange landscape of hummocky forest, evidence of the fact that the trees are all planted on old sand dunes. We managed with Ian’s help to make it back to Cullen in time for dinner.

Kingston to Lossiemouth

The following day the walk was from Kingston to Lossiemouth heading north. After some time waking from Garmouth, we found the start of the trail at Kingston. This was to be the most difficult part of the walk as it was on shingle and there was a bank of it between the path and the sea so although we could hear the sea, we could not see it!

To the side of us there were. WW2 defences. During World War II, the construction of a line of defences along the Moray coastline aimed to slow down a possible German invasion. In 1940, Britain was under threat of German invasion. As a result, a plan was put into action to defend any coastline where the enemy could easily land.. The Moray coastal defences ran between Cullen Bay and Findhorn Bay, through today’s Lossie and Roseisle Forests. Concrete anti-tank blocks ran the full length of the defences. Pillboxes were another part of the defences. Two alternating designs, square and hexagonal shaped, zigzagged a line along the coastline.

We finally reached the glorious long sandy beach at Lossiemouth. RAF Lossiemouth is one of two RAF Quick Reaction Alert stations which protect UK airspace. RAF Lossiemouth personnel and aircraft also support operations worldwide and host numerous national and international exercises.


Cullen to Buckie

On our final walking day, we followed the trail from our hotel in Cullen to Buckie. We passed through Portknockie after observing the Bow Fiddle rock which is a natural sea arch.  It is so called because it resembles the tip of a fiddle bow. It is composed of Quartzite, a metamorphic rock which was originally quartz sandstone.

We continued on to the village of Findochty over the good path on the cliff tops. Findochty is a fishing village near Buckie, at the eastern end of Spey Bay with a small, sandy beach. The history of this charming village dates as far back as the 15th century, and in the 18th and 19th centuries, Findochty expanded into a busy fishing port. Today, the harbour hosts small fishing craft and pleasure boats, and is a great place to spot dolphins and porpoise. Alas, we did not see any marine wildlife.


The village is noted for Cullenskink (a traditional soup made from smoked haddock, milk, potato and onion) and its former railway bridges, two of which are now part of the national cycle network. These bridges were required to be built, at considerable cost, due to resistance to the railway line being routed any closer to Cullen House. The first mention of Cullen in Scottish history was in 962 when King Induff was killed by the Norwegians (and/or Danes) at the mouth of the river Cullen and referred to as the Battle of the Bauds. The organs of the second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, of Robert the Bruce are said to have been buried in the Old Kirk after her death in Cullen Castle in 1327.following a fall from a horse. It is a pleasant town and the Royal Oak Hotel has lovely fruit scones!

Along a walk, it was amusing to see a motorhome with a sign Teuchters on Tour. Teuchter is a Lowland Scots word commonly used to describe a Scottish Highlander, in particular, a Gaelic-speaking Highlander.

Thanks to Ian for organising the trip and a fitting finish with the final days walk ending at Ianstown. A special thanks to Robin who lead the walks without having had a chance to recce them.  We shall miss the Ian and Robin trips.

Coming attractions; Fife Coastal Elie to Anstruther, Bute West Island Way completed and Langholm.



Helen Rose's Outdoor Diary: East Neuk, Fife
Helen Rose's Outdoor Diary: Ayr. Dunure Walk and Horse Races

This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary

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