The Bin of Cullen: A Walking Guide

Written by Chris Thornton | 4th of March 2024
Bin of Cullen

The Bin of Cullen is a dome-shaped hill that dominates the local landscape from Elgin to Banff. The roundness of the hill stands out in a reasonably flat coastal area of Moray. Rising 320 metres, it's not that big of a hill, but still, it looks unique and stands out while travelling the A98 coastal road. The views from its summit are fantastic, with a 360-degree panorama of the coastal settlements and further inland.

The Bin of Cullen gets its name from the Gaelic word for hill, "Beinn", and from the nearest settlement to it - the fishing town of Cullen, although it's just as close to the villages of Findochty and Portknockie.

Despite living near the Bin of Cullen (known locally as the Bin Hill), I had only been to its summit once in the past, when I was only four years old. Thirty-six years later, I decided it was time; it was a lovely autumn day, slightly cool, with no wind and bright sunlight - perfect.

My wife and kids had never been up the Bin Hill, so today would be the day. We hopped in the car and drove the short distance to the start of the walk, not far from Deskford.

Bin of Cullen seen from Roseisle Beach.
The Bin of Cullen is in the background of this photo from Boars Head between Lossiemouth and Kingston.
 
Bin of Cullen seen from Lossie East Beach.
Another shot from Lossiemouth East Beach.
 
Bin of Cullen from Lossie.
The Bin of Cullen can be seen on the horizon of this shot from Lossiemouth.
 
Bin of Cullen seen from the Crannoch Circular Walk.
View of the Bin from the Crannoch Circular Walk near Cullen.

Where to park for the Bin of Cullen walk

Depending on where you are coming from, it's a short drive to the beginning of the Bin of Cullen walk. From either Cullen or Buckie, it is only about a 10-minute drive to the car park.

Bin of Cullen Walk, entrance and car park.
Entrance and makeshift car park for the Bin of Cullen walk.

What3words car park location: ///pinches.immediate.zones
Google Maps car park location: Start point
Grid reference: NJ491632

From Cullen:

  1. Head south out of Cullen on the A98.

  2. Shortly after leaving, take the B9018 via Lintmill.

  3. Continue south until you see a right turn on this road (signed Hill of Maud).

  4. Follow this very straight section of minor road until you arrive at the start of the walk on your right-hand side.

From Buckie / A98:

  1. Take a right turn off the A98 just after Buckie.

  2. Follow this road for some distance, then turn left towards Deskford.

  3. Stay on this road, don't turn right to Deskford.

  4. You will pass a farm on your right, then arrive at a forest on both sides of the road.

  5. The start of the walk is just on your left.

When parking at the walk, try not to block access to the gate; there is room for maybe six cars max, split between either side of the gate. If there is no space, there is a farm a short distance to the west, but it might be rude to park here without consent from the landowner.

Bin of Cullen Walk

The Bin of Cullen walk is around 5.5 km or 3.5 miles to the summit and back. Although this doesn't seem that far, a lot of the walk is on an incline and might be challenging with poor fitness.

We set off past the gate. The quality of the path of this section was good, slightly muddy in places, but a good solid forest track with no uneven sections. The forest here is beautiful in autumn, with yellow ferns and auburn leaves speckled amongst the tall pines.

Entrance gate for the Bin of Cullen walk.
The entrance gate.
 
Forest tracks
Forest track.
 
Walking up the Bin Hill.
My wife and two of my daughters, cameras in hand.
 
Charming forest walk.
The start of the walk is very relaxing.
 
Autumn forest walk near Cullen.
The walk initially goes down and to the right first.

October walk near Cullen.
 
Yellow ferns and pine trees.
The ferns look great this time of year.

Nice forests near Cullen.

The Badentarget Burn flows alongside the path at a few sections of the walk, and a small bridge crosses it at one section.

Crossing the Badentarget Burn.
Badentarget Burn and bridge.
 
The forest is lovely at this time of year.
Scots pine forest in Autumn.

Following the forest track

We came to a crossroads and weren't sure whether to go straight ahead or take the left turn. Luckily other walkers were coming back from the left direction, so we took a left at the crossroads. Be wary of descending mountain bikers here.

The ascending path to the summimt.
Follow this path at the crossroads (left).

The main track heads northwest, following part of the Badentarget Burn; the path here is more rocky and uneven. The forests in this section were magnificent with mixed forests, not just pine.

Ladies walking at Bin of Cullen walk.
Little legs can't keep up sometimes!
 
Olivia had the most energy.
Liv leads the way!
 
Mature scots pine
The forest at the Bin Hill is lovely.
 
Spectacular autumnal trees near Cullen.
Autumn in full swing in October 2022.

There is a wee alcove on your right where people have made some makeshift swings and rope bridges; use them at your own risk, but our kids had fun playing on them!

We continued along the path and came to a fork; again, we weren't sure of the correct direction but deduced from the map on our mobile phones that we should take the left path. The route could definitely be better signposted.

Fork in the road, go left!
A fork in the road - go left again.

I noticed a few spots that would be ideal for wild camping.

As we progressed along the forest track, the trees gradually got smaller and more gnarly looking, eventually giving way to no trees at all as we neared the summit. The path becomes a stony track as you ascend. There are much rockier, steeper paths; I wouldn't be tempted to take a rough short cut route, though; just stick to the path which zig-zags its way to the summit.

Out crop of stones near the summit.
We stopped for a wee break at these stones.
 
The rocky path leads higher.
The path gets rockier, and the trees thin out.
 
Keep safe on this section.
This might be the most dangerous bit with steep sections to the right of the path.

Reaching the summit

Walking now past the final section of the walk, we admired stunning views to the south on our right-hand side. The path leads you up to the hill's summit, which is covered in heather.

Nearly at the top!
The final push to the top!

Powering up the last section of the path, the views are suddenly revealed as you reach the hill's apex; they are breathtaking. It was a little dizzying having such a broad, expansive view.

Fantastic views over the Moray Firth.
View from the top, wow!

A cairn exists at the top with a circular directional plaque/view indicator showing the direction of various towns and landmarks, sadly vandalised and smashed to pieces. There is also a trig point near the cairn.

View indicator at the top of Bin of Cullen.
Broken view indicator and summit cairn.
 
Trig point for ordinance survey.
Trig point.

We took advantage of some solid wooden benches to have a picnic. Plaques attached to them state they were provided by the local Boy's Brigade in Buckie.

What can be seen from the Bin of Cullen?

A great deal can be seen - the view is exceptional, taking in 360 degrees of landscape in all directions. For example, you can see a considerable section of the Moray Coast from Lossiemouth to Banff, across to the Caithness mountains and even Elgin in the far distance.

Buckie - the largest settlement near the Bin of Cullen, you can view the entire town and see all of the main features, including the harbour, its many churches, supermarkets and schools.

Boat leaving Buckie harbour as seen from Bin of Cullen.
The Selkie dredger leaving Buckie Harbour.

Cullen - The Cullen Viaduct and most of the town of Cullen can be easily seen from the summit. It's possible to see Cullen House (built in 1600) and Castle Hill viewpoint which is a great short walk within Cullen.

Cullen, home of Cullen Skink soup.
Cullen.
 
Cullen Viaduct and Cullen Bay.
Cullen Viaduct.

Portknockie - The picturesque village of Portknockie can be seen directly north, known for its unique rock formation - Bow Fiddle Rock.

Findochty - Looking north, you can see Findochty, known for its harbour and colourful fishing cottages.

Banff - On a clear day, you can see all the way to Banff and Macduff by looking east. You may even get a glimpse of the Troup Head nature reserve.

Banff and Macduff seen from the Bin Hill.
Banff and Macduff.

Lossiemouth - Far across the bay, Lossiemouth can easily be seen to the northwest, including its east beach and Covesea Lighthouse.

Lossiemouth as seen from the Bin of Cullen.
Lossiemouth.

Spey Bay - The mighty Spey River terminates into the Moray Firth and can be seen from the summit. The Spey is the fastest-flowing river in Scotland. The mouth of the Spey can be a hot spot for dolphins and seals.

Inchgower Distillery - One of Moray's many distilleries is visible directly next to Buckie. Inchgower produces Bell's Whisky, and you can see the warehouses and cupola's on the distillery roof. My grandfather used to work here.

Inchgower Distillery near Buckie.
Inchgower Distillery.

Morven - Far across the Moray Firth to the north lie the Caithness Mountains, particularly Morven, with its unique peaks.

Knock Hill - Another distinctive conical outline, very similar to the Bin of Cullen, can be seen to the south east in the form of Knock Hill, near Huntly 1,410ft (430m).

Knock Hill, near Huntly.
Knock Hill near Huntly.

Fochabers - To the south west you may be able to see Fochabers on a clear day, home of Speyfest, one of the best traditional music festivals in Scotland.

Heading home

It was getting a little cold at the top of the bin, so we decided to make our way back down, retracing our steps. Going downhill was much easier, and we got back in about half the time.

FAQs on the Bin of Cullen Walk

How fit do you have to be to ascend the Bin of Cullen?

Reasonable fitness would be best. I have poor fitness; my heart rate was elevated, and I was a little out of breath. Seasoned walkers and hill climbers will find this walk very easy. The route would not be possible for wheelchair users.

Are there bathrooms at the Bin of Cullen?

No, the nearest public toilets would be in Buckie or Cullen.

Are there dedicated picnic areas and rubbish bins?

No, there are no picnic tables or bins to deposit your trash. There are two picnic benches on the summit. There are no dog waste bins, either.

Can public transport take me to the start of the walk?

Sadly, no bus routes pass the walk.

Who owns the Bin of Cullen?

It is within the remit of the Seafield Estates.

Is the Bin of Cullen a Munro?

No, it is too small; the Bin of Cullen is 320 metres tall, and Munros are 3000 feet / 914 metres tall.

Is the walk suitable for dogs and children?

Yes, there are no sheer drops - the route is safe for kids and dogs. However, there are some steep hilly areas near the summit where care should be taken.

Is it very busy at the Bin of Cullen?

There were maybe 3 or 4 other groups of people we met on the walk, but when we arrived at the top of the hill, we were the only ones there. We visited on a Sunday in the October holidays; it didn't feel overly busy at all.

Is there mobile phone reception on the walk?

In some sections, it was sporadic, but I had a full signal at the top of the hill (Three Network).

Bin of Cullen videos

Here are a few short videos of our walk up the Bin of Cullen.

Small bridge crossing Badentarget Burn.
 
Video from the summit.
 
Heading home!

Key takeaways

  • It's a lovely walk of about 3.5 miles which should take about 1.5 hours to complete.

  • There are only about six car spaces at the start of the walk.

  • Bring good footwear; the path can be muddy and rocky.

  • The views from the summit are exceptional.

  • My kids, 6, 10 and 12, managed the walk (with only a little moaning about sore legs!).

Chris and Janette Thornton.
Me and the Mrs.
 
Cullen Bin / The Bin Hill.
The ladies loved their walk up the Bin Hill.

Conclusion

We had a lovely walk up the Bin of Cullen, something I have wanted to do for decades but just never really found the time. I would highly recommend the walk if you are visiting Cullen or any of the coastal villages in the area.

If you're looking for more walks in the Cullen area, I can highly recommend the Crannoch Circular Walk and Cullen to Portknockie Walk.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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Comments:


Dian Ferguson
9th of August 2023 @ 14:40:41

What a super informative article. Very easy to understand and it was as if we were on the walk with you. Hints and tips amazingly helpful . Photography Stunning I will be dragging Ian up there before long Chris that is brilliant thank you

Evelyn Fulton
8th of August 2023 @ 17:54:07

Comprehensive and informative article. Look forward to reading some more.

Margaret Lawson
7th of August 2023 @ 21:22:40

Very good article. Felt I was walking with you which is as near as I will be! Too old and unfit now Thanks

Anne mckim
7th of August 2023 @ 18:48:42

Lived in Buckie in my teens never really took much notice of the beautiful scenery on the coast line I’m on the sight IM FAE BUCKIE FAR YE BIDEN NOO love seeing all the beautiful pics and stories I’ve been back visiting Buckie since I left and have done a lot of walking along the beautiful coast Love going back to see old friends and reminiscing 🤗👍🤩

Paula
7th of August 2023 @ 18:23:00

Just moved to this area and followed your informative directions it was just amazing at the summit thanks

Chris Wilson
7th of August 2023 @ 18:05:11

Excellent article! May climb it tomorrow. Been a while. Thanks

Linda Garden
7th of August 2023 @ 18:03:04

Great text and photos. My Dad was.born and raised on Cleanhill farm. The Inchgower distillery was built on a corner of the land that my Grandfather George Garden farmed.

Dionne
7th of August 2023 @ 17:35:09

Very informative. Been up the bin hill, many a time. It’s a fantastic walk. Great for all.

Dian Ferguson
7th of August 2023 @ 16:52:50

Very informative and really makes me want to take the walk. Amazing pictures , love the hints and tips section . Thanks Chris

Sandra Jacobs
27th of March 2023 @ 10:00:00

I am fairly new to the area and am always looking for local walks to do with the dogs. Your illustration and clear guide to The Cullen Bin is great. Fantastic views and my husband would love it from a photographers perspective.

Jean Meldrum
27th of October 2022 @ 01:45:49

Thanks for taking the time to write down your experience of walking up the bin hill with your family and also illustrating a very clear guide on how to get there. Also the photos are beautiful. I am ashamed to admit being born in Buckie and now 60 years old, I have only climbed the bin once when I was a child and have always wanted to do it again with my grandchildren. I was unsure of the way to get to the starting point and was worried I would get lost half way up the hill. I cannot thank you enough for sharing this information and I can now give it a go before I get too old to do it and share the experience with my granddaughters. I am sure many folk will share my views and give it a go thanks to you Chris Well done again Best wishes Jean

Jim Fraser
25th of October 2022 @ 16:42:32

Thank you. I too originated from Buckie and I too climbed the Bin Hill last time as a kid...nearly 60 now. And, I too had a family member who worked at Inchgower. More importantly, my family and I will be staying for two weeks at Lossiemouth come the summer and thanks to your amazing guide, we will be flowing in your footsteps . Thank you again!

Tasleem Javed (Ali)
25th of October 2022 @ 04:37:00

Thankyou for sharing you’re experience on the Bin Hill with you’re family. Amazing views from the top. What beautiful colours of the trees during this time. I appreciate the time and effort you have taken to bring this part of all surrounding villages and coastal views to reality with the filming. One day will come back from the City and enjoy the scenic views and country fresh air. ❤️

Gail McGill
25th of October 2022 @ 03:05:59

Thank you for sharing this info. After I join the group for Buckie, I have learned so much about where my sons ancestors came from. ( They were Stuart nee Cowie and McGill. My mothers people came from somewhere in that area….they were Andersons. I will never get to go there in this lifetime butI have seen drone footage of your area. Your climb up that Bin Hill was awesome. What a view. My in-laws called it Bonnie Scotland. They said the people were the cleanest on earth. Now I know they were true. I dont know how they could leave such a beautiful place. They must have often been homesick.

Naomi Moir
24th of October 2022 @ 23:49:17

Thanks for the very informative story of your day on the Bin Hill. Maybe, just maybe, I'll tackle it .....been a long time since I've been there, but it was a favourite haunt of mine, along with one of my brothers, when we were young