Cullen....Cliff walk, Auld Kirk tour, Cullen House visit and Hotel meal.
We walked down the hill from the bus stop for a view of the Bow Fiddle Rock - not many nesting birds there now, but still an impressive sight - and then following Mary Shand's lead we walked along the cliff path with fine views of the Rock and Cullen Bay, before joining the path of the old North of Scotland railway line (opened in 1886 and close by Dr Beeching in 1968.) The path incorporates the Cullen viaduct - 80 feet high and 613 feet long with 8 arches, each spanning 62 feet. At the Cullen end of the viaduct some of us stopped for a picnic on benches with a view of the harbour and the Seatown, while others climbed Castle Hill, which has been transformed from a wilderness of whins and weeds by a team of community volunteers and now affords wonderful views of the coastline with plenty of benches for picnics.
We reassembled at Cullen Auld Kirk within the grounds of Cullen House at 2.30pm and were given a comprehensive tour of the church inside and outside by Field Club member John Aitken. The graveyard has a large number of very old and interesting table tombs, which were convenient to sit on while John explained the history and architecture of the church which dates from 1236 with sixteenth and eighteenth century additions and alterations. Inside we were shown the remarkable Laird's Loft dating from the beginning of the 17th century and the ornate Ogilvie tomb from the sixteenth century. We were entertained by Judy Phillips, an accomplished clarsach player. From the church we walked through to Cullen House where we were welcomed by one of the residents of the house (now divided into 7 apartments), Colin Shearer, who shared his knowledge of and enthusiasm for the building. Dating from 1600, though probably incorporating an earlier manor house, the building has been enlarged over the centuries by several architects including James Adam in the eighteenth century and David Bryce, noted for the Scottish Baronial style in the nineteenth. Colin very kindly took us into the entrance hall of his own apartment (actually two apartments joined together) to admire the magnificent Delft tile fireplace, and then upstairs to the first floor hall. Unfortunately we ran out of time as the Cullen Bay Hotel was calling us for high tea (literally). Many thanks to John and Colin for giving us such an interesting and entertaining afternoon. We were all ready for our fish and chips at 5pm!