Bow Fiddle Rock, Portknockie, Moray

Written by Chris Thornton | 16th of February 2021
Updated: 10th of July 2022
Bow Fiddle Rock Portknockie

If you are visiting Moray, or are a local looking to explore somewhere new in the area, then Bow Fiddle Rock is a fantastic landmark to visit on the rugged Moray coast.

When first seen, Bow Fiddle Rock rock evokes a sense of wonder with it's steep folded sides and rock arch which resembles a fiddle bow tip (violin), hence the name Bow Fiddle Rock. From the access point to get to the rock the landscape frames the rock in a V shape adding to its picturesque vista. It is one of the finest natural rock formations in north Scotland. The rock date back millions of years.

The rock was formed with a combination of tectonic plate movements pushing up the rock at an angle, and erosion of the weaker rock (Cullen Quartzite formation, a metamorphic rock) to create the famous Bow Fiddle Rock arch.

If you follow the coastal path down the hill towards the rock there is a cave to the left. If you go over the hill to the left too there is a large sea rock affectionately called "Bird sh*t rock" as it has been stained a white colour. Be very careful here there is a sheer cliff drop.

Rock stained white with bird excrement!

You can also walk a different way to the right of the site and get a side view looking down on Bow Fiddle Rock. When viewed from this angle, you can actually see the rock is a lot longer and flatter than the view from the front makes you believe. You can continue on in this direction to get to Cullen, a fantastic walk.

The popular Six Harbour Walk charity event passes Bow Fiddle Rock along it's route, please see their website for more information.

There are no picnic tables at the site, but there are plenty of grassy areas where you can set up a picnic, either up on the hill overlooking Bow Fiddle Rock or down closer to ground level with the rock.

Dangerous cliffs at Bow Fiddle Rock, Moray
Dangerous sheer cliff drops near Bow Fiddle Rock.

Please be very careful; the path is not ideal for dog walking as there are a few very dangerous sheer drops. Unfortunately, there is no disabled/wheelchair access.

Kayaking at Bow Fiddle Rock at low tide, Portknockie, north east Scotland.
Rear view of Bow Fiddle Rock formation from the Sea

It is a popular area for kayakers to visit as you can actually navigate through the rock arch when there is a high tide. Only attempt this if you are an experienced kayaker!

Bow Fiddle Rock Portknockie

Photography at Bow Fiddle Rock

The area around Bow Fiddle Rock is full of wildlife/nature and is an ideal place to photograph sea birds, especially on the rock mentioned above if you have a powerful lens. The rock itself is very scenic and is a great subject for photography, especially at sunrise or sunset. You can experiment with long exposures on the sea too to give it a mist-like quality. There are many different angles you can try for photographing the rock including many interesting foreground rocks that can be used as leading lines in your composition. Down at the shore is probably the best angle.

Birds at Bow Fiddle Rock

The rock is perfectly aligned facing east so you could get some spectacular sun rise photos here, maybe at the right time of year with the sun rising within the rock arch itself as the main focus of your image.

At the top of the prominence above the cave, wild thrift flowers grow and can provide a pleasant foreground for your photo. See this image by Ian Cameron of Transient Light

Cave at Bow Fiddle Rock

I have had some success taking photos of the Aurora Borealis behind Bow Fiddle Rock, the formation makes for a fantastic silhouette.

Aurora Borealis behind Bow Fiddle Rock | Aurora Borealis Scotland
Aurora Borealis behind Bow Fiddle Rock

How do I get to Bow Fiddle Rock Portknockie?

The rock is situated on the coast near the village of Portknockie on the north eastern coast in Scotland. If you follow the A98 to Portknockie, then take the A942. Follow this road into Portknockie then take a right turn to Admiralty Street. At the very bottom of this street take the 2nd right to the small car park, the road is lined with old sheds.  There was an article in the Northern Scot newspaper on the 21st of October 2021 stating the car park would be extended, great news!

Here is a link to it on Google maps and it can be also be seen on the Live Breathe Scotland Map.

Full view of Bow Fiddle Rock from the air.
An overhead aerial view of Bow Fiddle Rock.

Where can I eat near Bow Fiddle Rock Portknockie?

There has recently been planning consent for a cafe to be built here which will make a visit to Bow Fiddle even more attractive for a day trip. UPDATE, unfortunately, it seems the Cafe will no longer be built due to planning problems. Portknockie chip shop on Bridge Street also has great food. You can have a sit-in meal at The Seafield Inn on Victoria Street. Bow Fiddle itself is a good location for a picnic with many grassy areas available, there are no bins so please take rubbish home with you. You can also walk via the Cullen Bay to the village of Cullen and find many nice places to eat.

Viewing Bow Fiddle Rock from Castle Hill in Cullen. Visit Bow Fiddle Rock.
Bow Fiddle Rock seen from Castle Hill in Cullen.

Bow Fiddle Rock Tourism Boost

A new car park and path is to be built at Bow Fiddle in 2022 with money awarded from the Scottish Government's Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.  For such a popular site this is great news that money is being invested in better facilities.

Conclusion

Bow Fiddle Rock is definitely worth your time for a visit on the Moray Coast in 2022, it is one of the finest natural rock formations you can see in Scotland, and a must-visit for budding landscape photographers.

Bow.Fiddle.Rock Map of Bow Fiddle Rock location

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Comments:


Karyn Harris
2nd of January 2023 @ 10:02:34

Hoping this will be inspiring for my family when they visit to explore the area!


2nd of August 2022 @ 14:53:25

Going up to moray shortly for a holiday, I think this would be a useful guide.