Friday, 20 January 2012


There are many delights for food lovers in Scotland, but one of the most enjoyable to my mind are the lovely, warming soups which are especially welcome in the chilly climate of this northern corner of the British Isles. One of the best known Scottish soups is Cullen Skink, which tastes much better than its rather uninviting name suggests; its main ingredients are smoked haddock, potatoes and onion, smoked haddock being a regular feature in the diet on this stretch of coast. On his visit to the town, Samuel Johnson, in his usual forthright manner, declared himself to be disgusted by the sight of "dried haddock broiled", so much so that he refused to eat it for breakfast. But don't let him put you off trying this local delicacy.

Cullen is a resort built on two levels, set on the beautiful Cullen Bay. The lower part is the fishing village of Seatown, built in the typical style of a traditional Aberdeenshire fishing village, while the upper village, a former royal burgh, has a square boasting an ornate market cross dating from 1696. The two parts are separated by a disused railway, whose viaducts are used by walkers and cyclists and offer wonderful views over the area. The wife of Robert The Bruce died in the area, and her organs are thought to be buried in Cullen's Auld Kirk, which dates from at least the 14th century. Cullen Burn is believed to equate to the River Celnius, which was mentioned by Ptolemy in "Geography", written around 139-161.

Map of the area.

'Cullen viaduct and seatown' photo (c) 2008, Craig Simpson - license:

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