Crannoch Circular Walk, Cullen

Written by Chris Thornton | 30th of August 2023
Crannoch Walk, a very enjoyable walk along the coastal path.

Over the past couple of years, my brother has been renovating an old bakery in the historic coastal village of Cullen. Since he finished and moved in he has been telling me about the many great walks around Cullen. We had recently walked the Castlehill walk and saw fields of bluebells near the temple of Pomona so we were keen to try another of the walks around Cullen. One of his favourites was the Crannoch Circular Path which takes in many sights including Forests, Lochs, and picturesque views of the Moray Firth towards Cullen Bay.

Crannoch Wood car park near the old railway line

The start of the walk

The walk is promoted as starting and finishing at Cullen square. However this time we started at the forested part of the walk, which is its own smaller walk through the forest and up Crannoch Hill.

We drove a short distance from the centre of Cullen to the East. As you leave Cullen there is an unmarked parking area to the left.

Crannoch Wood Circular Path

The woodland path is well signposted and directs you where to go along the walk. The start of this part of the walk was lovely, starting in an ancient mixed forest. The trees are tall and old. You cross over a small railway bridge that crosses the old coastal disused railway line, sadly no longer in use.

It's a real shame the Banff, Portsoy, and Strathisla Railway lines were discontinued, it would be such a tourist attraction if there was an old steam train used on the route, similar to the trains at Aviemore and Fort William.

Crannoch walk is well sign posted. An unusual and interesting mix of coastal and forest walk.

Crannoch Hill

After leaving the wooded area you reach the start of the ascent of Crannoch Hill. It's a fairly mild incline and most people should manage it with a minimal level of fitness. There are a lot of nice views here looking back toward the Bin of Cullen or simply the "Bin Hill" as locals call it.

Crannoch Hill, looking back towards the Bin of Cullen

As you near the top of the hill you enter another forested area that has a thick canopy overhead, making this area darker and more atmospheric.

This area was obviously popular with children as there were many swings set up along the way, as well as a fort, den, or "huttie" as I used to call them, built from old sticks.

Crannoch mature pine woodland with thick canopy.

Crannoch Hill Loch

Straight ahead along the trail, the canopy gives way to more sparse trees and more dappled light. Many mushrooms and other fungi line the path as you arrive at a pretty little loch named Crannoch Loch, or Crannoch Hill Loch.

The stand-out feature from this visit was the many dragonflies on the loch, there must have been 5 or 6 flying around the shore, they seemed particularly interested in a log of wood. We visited in early August, so this could be a good time to see them if you want to view them too.

Crannoch Loch Dragonflies at Crannoch Loch

Moray Firth

Leaving the dragonflies behind, the trees gave way more to an open moor area before descending down the hill. There was a fantastic view here looking over Cullen, Cullen Bay, and over to Portknockie and Bow Fiddle Rock.

View over Cullen, Moray Firth | Scenic open countryside

Following the path down the hill, we turned left to take us back to the railway bridge and back to the car park. If we had turned right here it would have taken us on a route back to Cullen, or to the Moray Firth coastal section of the walk.

If you can resist the pull of Cullen Icecream shop, one fine alternative to following the coastal route back to Cullen would be to take a detour - follow the coast east towards sunnyside beach and the ruin of Findlater Castle. It is a great ruin dating from the 1300s and has links to Mary Queen of Scots.

Alternatively, you can head West on the coast and follow it back round to Cullen Harbour.

Again we had fantastic views of The Bin Hill while walking back to the car. We also came across baby frogs, or maybe just very small frogs all over the path, we gingerly made our way back trying not to step on any of them.

Baby frogs on Crannoch walk.

What other walks are in Cullen?

  • We really like the walk through the Cullen House estate and up Castle Hill.
  • You can also walk from Cullen to Portknockie to see the iconic Bow Fiddle Rock.
  • Walk up and over Cullen's impressive railway viaducts.
  • A walk along Cullen beach is a must.
  • An energetic hike up the Bin Hill if you are feeling particularly adventurous.
  • Walk around the fine harbour.
  • Walk to the historic seatown / old fishing quarter.

Where can I stay in Cullen?

The Seafield Hotel recently received a huge revamp, this is probably the most luxurious hotel in Cullen, but there are many fine smaller hotels and B&Bs to choose from. Cullen Bay Hotel lies just outside of Cullen to the west and has great seaviews.

Where can I get lunch in Cullen?

Rockpool Cafe is one of the most popular places in Cullen to get food. They can be found in a corner of the square in Cullen near the war memorial. Seafield Hotel has nice food as does The Royal Oak Hotel.

Are there public toilets in Cullen?

Yes, there are toilets in the square and at the beach. They are maintained by locals to a high standard.

My kids and nephew at a fallen tree at Crannoch Wood. Coastal walking.


Although we did not complete the entire Crannoch Circular path, the Crannoch Wood Circular section we did do was lovely and highly recommended. Wildlife, Forests, Lochs, and wonderful coastal scenery, what else could you ask for?

See the Discover Cullen website for more info on things to do in Cullen.

Map of the route we took at Crannoch Hill | sweeping rocky shoreline

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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13th of March 2022 @ 18:54:46

Thanks Shona!

Shona breen
13th of March 2022 @ 18:49:05

Well written very informative. Thanks great help