The Moray Coast is a treasure trove of stunning seascapes; picturesque fishing villages, historic harbours and beautiful beaches. If you’re thinking about a revitalising New Year break in the Greater Speyside area or you’re just looking for new places to explore, here are some coastal gems waiting to be discovered.
Once a large Pictish fort, the coastal town of Burghead is steeped in history. The rock-cut Burghead Well was discovered and excavated in 1809 but it remains an archaeological mystery – no one knows when the well was made or what it was used for. Twenty steps lead down to a chamber with a pool in the centre, supplied by an underground spring.
From Easter to September you can collect a key from the Burghead Visitor Centre to access the well and at other times of the year the key can be collected from the Bothy Bistro on Grant Street (a great place for a meal or drink after you’ve explored the well!).
Clashach Cove (Primrose Bay), Hopeman
Perhaps to keep this lovely bay a hidden gem it is, rather confusingly, shown on maps as Clashach Cove, on road signs as Cove Bay and known to locals as Primrose Bay. From Hopeman’s East Beach (with its colourful beach huts) follow the Moray Coastal Trail over the grassy cliffs and down to Clashach Cove.
With its sand stone cliffs, secluded beach and caves to explore, Clashach Cove is an idyllic spot from which to soak up the seascape. And if you go on a boat trip with Findhorn based North 58° Sea Adventures you can see this gorgeous cliff scenery from the water.
Bow Fiddle Rock, Portknockie
Named for its bow-like shape, beautiful Bow Fiddle Rock at Portknockie is a 50 foot rock that arches out of the sea just off the coast. Eroded from Cullen quartzite rock, it is home to a number of sea birds and is a sight to behold – definitely a photo opportunity!
You could also follow the Moray Coastal Trail past Bow Fiddle Rock around the point to Whales Moo cave for a picturesque view of Cullen.
Sunnyside Beach and Findlater Castle, Cullen
Cullen is the next town along from Portknockie heading east and is known for its long stretch of beach, historic Seatown (with its whitewashed fisherman cottages) and viaduct (fun fact – the railway was apparently built on a viaduct because a local landowner refused to allow it to go through her grounds).
Tucked around the corner from Cullen you’ll find Sunnyside Beach and the ruins of Findlater Castle. Again following the Moray Coastal Trail from the harbour at Cullen, you pass a Pet Cemetery and Nelson’s Viewpoint before rounding the headland to reach Sunnyside Beach (a lovely picnic spot in the warmer months), taking in rugged rocky landscape and sweeping sea views while you walk.
From Sunnyside Beach, the path rises to the clifftops where you can see the ruins of Findlater Castle clinging to the cliff edge. There are narrow paths leading down to the ruins and care must be taken at all times.
The castle ruins you see today date back to the 14th century but the first reference to the castle was in 1246.
The village of Crovie (a line of houses) is perched on the very edge of the sea. Park at a small car park on a hill above the village (where you can also enjoy the scenic view) and walk down to explore this amazing coastal gem.
Crouched under the cliffs, Crovie is a picturesque village full of character and charm. After many of the residents were forced to leave after a great storm in 1953, many of the traditional cottages have been turned into holiday accommodation.
Make sure you also visit nearby Troup Head, home to Scotland’s only mainland colony of gannets.