Portknockie is a historic fishing village along this stunning bit of coastline. You can walk from Findochty along the old railway line, about 2 miles along the coastal path. It’s a well maintained path and is suitable for buggies and cycling. Visit Bow Fiddle rock, a stunning rock formation, 50 feet high and composed of quartzite rock it forms a large sea arch. The Victoria Hotel serves good food both at lunchtime and in the evening.
If you’re feeling energetic continue walking along the railway line from Portknockie, or take the coastal path past Bow Fiddle rock and walk along the stunning sandy beach to Cullen. There is a good choice of cafes and small shops in Cullen, and no visit would be complete without one of its infamous ice creams! There is also a fish and chip shop and an excellent Chinese takeaway.
Sunnyside Beach and Findlater Castle – 10 minute drive
Follow the sign posts from the main road to the car park. A short walk (can be muddy) will take you to the cliff edge where you can turn left and walk down to Sunnyside beach – a great spot for a picnic. Turn right and you’ll be looking down onto the ruins of Findlater Castle. You can walk right down to the castle but take care as it’s a steep embankment.
Fordyce – 15 minute drive
A quaint village, worth a wander round and a visit to the Joiners Workshop.
Sandend – 15 minute drive
A great stretch of beach when the tide is out and a favourite haunt for surfers. There are toilets at the car park but no other facilities in the village. You can walk from here along the coast to Portsoy.
Portsoy – 15 minute drive
A larger village with many shops including a small super market. Make sure you try one of their ice creams before heading down to the harbour, Portsoy Marble is also worth a mooch round. The annual Boat Festival is at the end of June/beginning of July.
Banff – 25 minute drive
A historic town with all the usual chain stores, Tesco, M&Co and Somerfield. The grand Duff House is certainly worth a visit on a rainy day and usually has various art exhibitions throughout the year.
Macduff – 30 minute drive
One of the few remaining fishing harbours, Macduff is very much a working town. The local farmers market is on the last Saturday of every month in the fish market by the harbour. Round the corner from the harbour is the Aquarium – a good wet weather destination! It has the biggest open water tank in Europe and is very hands on, ideal for kids and adults alike.
Troup Head – 40 minute drive
An RSPB reserve Troup Head is definitely worth a visit whether you’re into birds or not. Its one of only two gannet colonies in Scotland. From the car park its about a mile and a half walk to the cliff edge. On a nice day take a picnic and spend a couple of hours marvelling at the gracefulness of the gannets whilst watching out for dolphins and whales. The cliffs are high and steep, take care with children and dogs.
Pennan and Crovie – 50 minute drive
Both of these villages are definitely worth the drive. With cottages right at the waters edge, only the hardiest souls live here! Pennan is well known for having featured in the 1970’s film ‘Local Hero’, (DVD in the cottage so you can watch it before you go!). The Pennan Inn serves excellent food, including authentic Thai dishes. Booking essential – 01346 561201.
Buckie is the nearest town to Findochty. With all the usual amenities – Tesco, Lidl and Co-op, as well as many independent shops. Its also a working harbour. From the harbour you can take a wildlife boat trip on the Gemini Explorer.
Spey Bay – 15 minute drive
The dolphin hotspot! If you’ve yet to see the dolphins from the cottage, a trip to Spey Bay may come up trumps. They are here regularly through the summer months, along with the osprey if you’re really lucky. There is a gift shop and café but it can get very busy at the weekends.
Fochabers – 20 minute drive
Fochabers is the home of Baxters, famous worldwide for its soup and food products. There is a selection of shops, a restaurant (you must try their pancakes!), and a short movie about the history of this family run business.
Lossiemouth – 45 minute drive
A superb beach and yet another place for great ice cream!
Hopeman – 50 minute drive
The much photographed multi-coloured beach huts can be found on East beach alongside a small sandy beach – good for a picnic!
Burghead – 55 minute drive
A small town, famous for the Burning of the Clavie every year, to celebrate the Pictish new year on January 11th. Head to the lookout by the coastguard cottages for a good chance of seeing dolphins and much bird life.
Elgin – 30 minute drive
A large town, with all the usual large stores, Asda, Tesco, B&Q, Homebase, Currys, etc. The historic cathedral ruin is pretty impressive. You can go into the grounds when it is open (Historic Scotland). Also worth a visit is the world famous Johnstons Cashmere centre, probably best to leave your credit card at home though!
Aberlour – 40 minute drive
A village right on the river Spey and home to Walkers shortbread. Visit the factory shop at the factory (open weekdays), or the main shop in the town. Browse around the Speyside Larder, a very good delicaesent before taking a walk along the river. Or take the path alongside the distillery to Linn Falls, spectacular in the Autumn.
Findhorn – 55 minute drive
Home to a marina, with a nice beach for a stroll along. There is a good café by the ships chandlers if you’re in need of refreshment. The Kimberley pub serves excellent fish dishes. The renowned Findhorn Foundation is on the road as you approach Findhorn. Whilst quite quirky, its an interesting place to visit – you can have a guided tour at 2pm every week day around this self-sufficient eco-village. Visit the Phoenix Store for an eclectic mix of products and excellent homemade bread!