Bow Fiddle Rock, Portknockie, Moray

Written by Chris Thornton | 19th of June 2023
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 its 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, 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 taking in large caves and sea arches.

The popular Six Harbour Walk charity event passes Bow Fiddle Rock along its 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 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 sunrise 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?

Here are some directions:

  1. The rock is situated on the coast near the village of Portknockie on the north eastern coast of Scotland.

  2. Follow the A98 to Portknockie, then take the A942.

  3. Follow this road into Portknockie, then take a right turn to Admiralty Street.

  4. At the very bottom of this street, take the 2nd right to the small car park with space for around four cars. You will see a yellow bar restricting the height of some vehicles. 

There was an article in the Northern Scot newspaper on the 21st of October 2021 stating the car park would be extended; great news! As of the 24th of April 2023, the new car park has opened and was funded by the Scottish Government's Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

Here is a link to it on Google Maps.
What3words: ///appendix.onlookers.sailed

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?

Portknockie chip shop on Bridge Street has great food. You can have a sit-in meal at The Seafield Inn on Victoria Street. You can also walk via Cullen Bay to the village of Cullen and find many nice places to eat; Rockpool Cafe is highly recommended.

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.

Further west on the A98, the Mill House Hotel has great food and well-priced accommodation.

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 are 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.

2023 Update: The car park has now been built, and some of the paths have been improved. There is room for around eight cars now, and an entrance bar restricts overnight stays from large campervans. Please see some photos of the new parking area below.

Bow Fiddle Rock car park.
The new car park as seen coming from the Cullen path.
Restriction bar.
The yellow bar restricts access from taller vehicles.
Bow Fiddle Rock car park detail.
The new more spacious car park at Bow Fiddle Rock.

2023 Update: The car park has now been built, and some of the paths have been improved. There is room for around eight cars now, an entrance bar restricts overnight stays from large campervans. Please see some photos of the new parking area below.

FAQs on Bow Fiddle Rock

Here are a few frequently asked questions on Bow Fiddle Rock:

How was Bow Fiddle Rock formed?

Bow Fiddle Rock was formed over millions of years through the process of coastal erosion. The constant battering by wind and waves gradually eroded the weaker sections of the rock, ultimately creating the distinctive sea arch we see today.

How tall is Bow Fiddle Rock?

The rock is around 50 feet / 15 metres tall; at high tide, kayakers can paddle through the rock arch!

Is Bow Fiddle Rock accessible to visitors?

Yes, Bow Fiddle Rock is accessible to visitors. You can easily reach the rock formation by following a footpath from the village of Portknockie. The path offers stunning views of the coast and the surrounding area. However, exercise caution near the cliffs, as the terrain can be slippery, and there are unexpected sheer drops.

Are there toilets at Bow Fiddle Rock?

No facilities are available - Cullen has public toilets.

Is Bow Fiddle Rock suitable for disabled visitors?

No, the paths overlooking the rock aren't suitable for wheelchairs, and the route down to the shore of the rock is very steep. If you can walk a short distance from the car park over uneven ground, you will be rewarded with a great overlook of the rock.

What is the best time to visit Bow Fiddle Rock?

Bow Fiddle Rock is a year-round attraction, but the best time to visit is during the summer months (June to August) when the weather is more favourable. During this period, you can expect longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures, and a greater chance of clear skies.

Are there any wildlife spotting opportunities at Bow Fiddle Rock?

Yes, Bow Fiddle Rock is home to a variety of seabirds, such as guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes. Occasionally, visitors may also spot seals, dolphins, or even whales in the surrounding waters.

Can I participate in any activities at Bow Fiddle Rock?

Yes, there are a variety of activities you can enjoy at Bow Fiddle Rock. Apart from photography and wildlife spotting, visitors can take part in coastal walks, hiking, and birdwatching. Additionally, the rock formation is a popular spot for sea kayaking and rock climbing, with appropriate experience and equipment.

Cullen Sea School and Blue Coast Surf & Paddle offer fantastic activities at Cullen Beach.

Are there any nearby attractions to visit in addition to Bow Fiddle Rock?

Yes, there are several attractions close to Bow Fiddle Rock that you can explore. These include the nearby towns of Cullen and Findochty, which offer picturesque harbours, historic buildings, and beautiful beaches. The region is also home to several whisky distilleries, providing an opportunity to taste and learn about the famous Scottish spirit.

Here are a few suggestions local to Bow Fiddle:

If you're interested in seeing another impressive rock arch, the Whale's Mouth arch is a relatively short distance along the Cullen path from Portknockie. There are a few caves as well as Jenny's Well to explore too!

Bow Fiddle Rock car park.
The Whale's Mouth rock arch, fairly close to Bow Fiddle Rock.

Videos from Bow Fiddle Rock

Here are a few video clips taken at Bow Fiddle Rock.

Bow Fiddle Rock overview.
Bow Fiddle Rock.
Bow Fiddle Rock zoomed in.

Key information on Bow Fiddle Rock:

  • Bow Fiddle Rock is a natural sea arch found off the coast of Portknockie.

  • Resembles the tip of a fiddle/violin's bow.

  • Formed through a process of coastal erosion.

  • Open to visitors all year round, a popular tourist attraction.

  • A brilliant place to observe seabirds and potentially seals and dolphins.

  • An excellent subject for photography.

Panorama of Bow Fiddle Rock.
Panorama of the landscape around Bow Fiddle Rock.


Bow Fiddle Rock is definitely worth your time for a visit on the Moray Coast; 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

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

Claim Your Free 6 Day Travel Itinerary:

Simply enter your email and we'll send it your way!

Free Scotland travel itinerary

Hi, please leave a comment below, or why not start a discussion on the forum?

9th of September 2023 @ 15:45:49

Going to the area in October this could be a very helpfull guide

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.