The town of Buckie in Northeast Scotland

Written by Chris Thornton | 11th of March 2024
Buckie a small fishing town in North East Scotland

Buckie is a fishing village on the east side of Moray on the Moray Firth Coast. It is one of the larger towns in Moray, with 11000 people calling Buckie home. I have lived near Buckie for 37 years; I moved here from Lossiemouth in the late 1980s.

My mother's side of the family was from Buckie, and I was soon inducted into the Doric language that is still popular in the town today. I attended Cluny Primary School and then moved up to Buckie High School afterwards. School life was a little rough around the edges, but I preferred it to Lossiemouth.

Buckie was once one of the most important fishing ports in the northeast and has the largest harbour in Moray. With the fishing industry's decline over the last 40 years, the oil industry is now the largest employer in the area. Many men work offshore on oil rigs, and women work as stewards (catering and cleaning). These jobs are very well-paid, so there is a lot of money in Buckie.

Today, the harbour has been repurposed for other industries. Forsyths Group has a large industrial estate right on the harbour. The offshore renewable sector is starting to ramp up with Siemens Gamesa and Ocean Winds building a large state-of-the-art office and workshop for the new Moray West Offshore Windfarm. Renewable energy could be the future of people living in Buckie.

O&M Building at Buckie Harbour
Buckie Harbour with the new O&M Building in the foreground for the Moray West Windfarm.

What to see in Buckie:

Buckie doesn't have as many tourist attractions as places like Cullen and Lossiemouth, but here are a few suggestions worth your time.

Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre

Located in the town centre, the Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre is dedicated to safeguarding the rich fishing heritage of Buckie and the surrounding Moray Firth area. It offers visitors an immersive glimpse into the lives, labours, and traditions of the local fishing communities.

The museum boasts an extensive collection of artefacts, photographs, and documents that chronicle the development of the fishing industry and its profound impact on the local community. Highlights include:

  • Model Boats: A stunning array of intricately detailed model boats, each representing different types of vessels that have been part of Buckie's fishing fleet over the centuries.

  • Fishing Gear: Displays of traditional and contemporary fishing gear, offering insights into the technological advancements that have shaped the industry.

  • Personal Stories: Audio and visual presentations featuring personal stories and anecdotes from local fishermen and their families bring the history to life with a personal touch.

If you're visiting Buckie for family history research, this heritage centre would be a great place to start. Entry is free, and the volunteers are incredibly knowledgeable.

Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre location on Google Maps.

Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre entrance
The entrance to Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre.

St Peter's Church

St Peter's is a large gothic-style church in Buckie's Buckpool area. Built from beautiful red sandstone, the church looks unique with its cathedral-like twin squared towers, central entrance and large stained glass windows. It's said that the nearby ruins of Elgin Cathedral inspired the church's design.

If you're interested in architecture, visiting St Peter's Church should be on your list.

St Peter's Church
St Peter's Church. Image: Robert Cutts.
 
St Peter's Church and Buckpool
Another view of St Peter's Church and part of Buckpool.

Buckie Home Bakery

The Home Bakery offers the famous "belly button softie"—only available in Buckie. These floury delights are famous all over the Northeast for their soft texture, sweeter taste, and hole in the top that resembles a belly button. Grab some sandwich fillers at the nearby Lidl and enjoy some for lunch!

Buckie Harbour

Buckie has the largest harbour in Moray and is usually bustling with activity... no longer for the fishing industry but for shipbuilding and offshore renewables. A walk on the harbour side can be fascinating, looking at the different types of boats docked, and it's possible to see vessels being actively worked on at Macduff Shipyards.

"Eat Mair Fish" at the harbour is one of the best places to buy fresh food in the northeast.

Parking is available alongside the harbour and near the now-defunct Buckie Drifter building.

Cluny Harbour. Buckie fishing vessels. Stone Harbour.
Buckie Harbour is largest in Moray.
 
Buckie Harbour, fishing boats
Another view of Buckie Harbour.
 
Buckie lifeboat station and Buckie Drifter
Buckie lifeboat station and Buckie Drifter in the background.

Golf courses in Buckie

Buckie has not one but two golf courses!

  • Strathlene Golf Club - Founded in 1877, Strathlene is one of the oldest golf clubs in Scotland. It has a great clubhouse, driving range and challenging golf course.

  • Buckpool Golf Club - An excellent golfing option west of Buckie, a great course with sea views. The clubhouse is brilliant and home to "Portgordon Pieces", offering lovely home-cooked food.

Golfing options are also available nearby at Cullen, Spey Bay, and Garmouth. Further away, there are courses at Lossiemouth, Elgin, Keith, Rothes, Huntly, Banff, Turriff, and Maverston, all within a 30-minute drive of Buckie.

Buckpool Golf Club. Buckie on the Moray Coast.
Buckpool Golf Club.
 
Strathlene Golf Club
Strathlene Golf Club showing club house and driving range.

Other points of interest in Buckie:

  • Buckie swimming pool and leisure complex.

  • Buckie Thistle Football Club.

  • Buckpool Harbour.

  • Seamen's Memorial (Information).

  • Buckie Classic Car Show in July.

  • Inchgower Distillery - not open to visitors.

Buckie Thistle Football Club.
Buckie Thistle Football Club.

Places to visit near Buckie:

  • Bow Fiddle Rock - A natural rock arch resembling a violin's bow. This is a lovely part of the coastline to visit in Portknockie between Buckie and Cullen.

  • Findochty - The harbour here is picturesque, set amongst the colourful fishing town.

  • Cullen - Potentially the most picturesque village in Moray with its stunning beach, railway viaduct and sea town. A visit to Cullen is a must!

  • Spey Bay - Where the mighty Spey River meets the sea, there is a visitor centre here dedicated to Whales and Dolphins, which can often be seen. There is also a lovely walk from the centre to a Victorian railway bridge.

  • Portgordon Seals - A short distance from Buckie at Portgordon Beach, you can see a bob of seals basking on the shingle. Time your visit for when the tide is out for a guaranteed sighting.

  • Bin of Cullen Walk - The most prominent hill in the area, the Bin of Cullen overlooks Buckie. There is a fantastic walk to the top, giving the best view in the area.

  • Macduff Aquarium - A brilliant aquarium showcasing the offshore wildlife of the Moray Coast.

A view of Buckie from the Bin of Cullen.
Buckie as seen from the top of the Bin of Cullen.
 
Peter Fair
Peter Fair - a travelling fairground that usually comes to Buckie each July.
 
Buckie Classic Car Show
Buckie Classic Car Show. The 2024 event will be held on the 25th of August.
 
Buckie Christmas Kracker
Buckie Christmas Kracker, normally held at the end of November. The town square is closed off with fair rides and stalls.

A short history of Buckie

  • The earliest mention of Buckie dates back to 1362, involving a lease transaction between John Hay and John Young.

  • The Hays, ancestors of the Rannes family, established their presence in the area through Royal favor, in a region that was part of the Forest of Awne or Ainie (now Enzie) and the Boyne.

  • The name Buckie has been spelled in various ways historically, including "Bucky" as referenced by Robert Burns in the 18th century.

  • Maps from the 17th to 19th centuries, including those by Robert Gordon and James Robertson, show Buckie as a community near the coast, alongside Freuchny and Nether Buckie, but with some geographical inaccuracies.

  • Portessie, initially referred to as Rotten Slough, emerged as a fishing station in 1727, constructing five houses for fishers from Findhorn.

  • By 1791, Portessie had grown to 44 households with 177 residents.

  • The 19th century saw significant development in establishing Seatown, Newtown, Ianstown, Gordonsburgh, Craig Bow, and Strathlene.

  • The Cluny family built Cluny Harbour in 1877 at a cost of £60,000 and became a major fishing port.

  • The separate nearby fishing villages ( Nether Buckie, Easter Buckie, Yardie and Portessie) amalgamated into the overall town of Buckie.

  • Buckie once had the largest steam drifter fleet in Scotland.

Buckie North Church, East Church Street.
Buckie North Chruch the town square. Image: Robert Cutts.
 
Looking down High Street.
High Street Buckie.
 
Buckpool.
A view of Buckpool with the Bin of Cullen on the horizon.

FAQs on Buckie

Where are the best places to eat in Buckie?

For Indian food, I love Akash Tandoori on West Church Street; for Chinese, Buckpool Chinese on St Paul Street is my favourite, particularly the shredded chicken in yum yum sauce! I quite like the pizzas from Dino's and the Doner kebab wraps from Bigg Boss!

For a proper sit down meal there are less options, I've heard the Brig and Barrel is meant to be good though! Bijou by the Sea is an excellent option for lunch, a short distance from Strathlene Beach.

The cheapest supermarket is Lidl on East Cathcart Street. Tesco on the south side of the town has a greater selection and a petrol station.

Where is the best place to stay in Buckie?

Within Buckie itself, Kintrae Bed & Breakfast should be your top choice. Also, consider the Brig and Barrel. Outside the town, consider the Mill House Hotel, which has reasonably priced rooms, and it has an excellent restaurant!

Does Buckie have a beach?

The nicest Beach in Buckie is on its east side, just past Portessie. Strathlene Beach has lovely golden sands, a caravan site, and a large grassy picnic area where you can look out at the Craiganroan Rock at the basking seals. Dolphins and killer whales have been regularly seen from here, too. Strathlene Golf Club is just up the hill.

Buckie dolphins
Dolphins seen from Strathlene Beach.

What is the Buckie Drifter?

The Buckie Drifter was an attempt to create a tourist attraction in Buckie, down by the harbour. Opening in 1994 in a brand new modern building, it told the story of Moray Firth fishing communities with many exhibits, including a fish quay of the 1920s. Sadly, it was not economically viable and closed in 2005. The Drifter building is used as offices today and cannot be visited by tourists.

What are people from Buckie like?

It can be a mixed bag like most places, but most "Buckie fowk" are down-to-earth, friendly people. Feel free to ask for directions or start up a conversation with the locals.

Conclusion

While Buckie isn't at the top of people's lists of places to visit in northeast Scotland, it can be a great base of operations to see the best of what East Moray or further into Aberdeenshire has to offer. The harbour, fishing heritage, and golfing options make Buckie a great choice.

Thank you to Adam Rhys Chisholm for the use of some of his images.

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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