Leaving Edinburgh was bittersweet. On one hand, there was still so much of the beautiful city yet to see, but on the other hand, there was still so much of Scotland to see as well! Inevitably the country beat out the city, and we were soon driving north toward the Cairngorms. But before we got too far in our journey, we had to make a small detour.
I lured my travel companions to Culross with a plea to make a “super short stop to see the beautiful Abbey and maybe some lunch if we’re hungry,” but I secretly hoped we would take some time to visit the village for a little stroll through the 16th century.
Built in the 13th century as a monastery, Culross Abbey became a parish church in the 16th century and retains a weekly congregation to this day. How amazing would it be to attend church and hear the choir singing in an old, monastic abbey?
The abbey’s cemetery is small and peaceful. I love the trees shading the beautiful old stones.
The Royal Burgh of Culross
After touring the abbey, we hopped in the car to find some lunch in the village. Our GPS decided to map out a route of circles through insanely narrow streets, so we decided to park back at the abbey and walk the 0.3 miles to the only pub in town. And here, if our wonky little GPS had a head, I would pat it fondly as I whispered, “well done,” for sending us off on foot to meander through the narrow, cobbled streets of Culross.
It is a curious experience walking through this quiet, old village. The National Trust for Scotland has preserved the town’s historic charm, making it an ideal destination for tourists looking to steep in some of Scotland’s history. The town makes you feel a bit like you have actually slipped into the past, so there is a moment of shock when you see a resident taking out the trash or watering her plants sans 16th-century attire. But shake it off and press on, for there is more to see.
The potted plants in front of homes and businesses are so beautiful. This was something we admired throughout Scotland, though it seemed these Culross homes may have snuck a few extras in to adorn their entrances.
As off-putting as it seemed to see a shiny, new car parked on these cobbled streets, we all agreed it must be much more tolerable than the jolting of a carriage. Chiropractic care was not around until the late 1800s (or so my friend the Internet told me) so I can hardly imagine the back pain some of these people would have felt. Ouch!
If we had more time to look around, we would have loved to visit the Culross Palace, built by Sir George Bruce (whose monument you can see in the nearby abbey). The palace is a lovely example of a wealthy residence in the 17th century, and the National Trust has restored and preserved it well. The palace is definitely on my return visit to-do list.
The Red Lion Inn
One of the few places to find lunch in Culross is at the Red Lion Inn. We found the pub to be warm and welcoming, the perfect spot to rest our legs and escape the chill. There is a nice mix of locals and visitors, and the menu offers something for everyone. I had the ploughman’s lunch, which was delicious, but definitely made to share. The fish and chips were delightful as well, though I found this to be the standard everywhere we tried it in Scotland.
The wood ceilings of the Red Lion Inn are all beautifully painted. This explains the crick in my neck after lunch. 😉
Back to the 21st Century
After lunch, it was time to get back on the road to our B&B in Dalwhinnie, so we walked back up the lovely little streets to our car. We took our time, peeking down the narrow lanes and savoring the historical details of the homes along the way.
And that was the end of our little adventure in Culross. I wish we would have had more time to explore, but then again, there is always next time…
Tips and Lessons Learned:
- Culross is only about 45 minutes away from Edinburgh, making it a nice day trip out of the city if you’re so inclined. If you are not looking to drive yourself, it looks like taking the bus is still only about 2 hours. Traveline Scotland has a nice journey planner site.
- Depending on how comfortable you are with really narrow single track roads, you might find it best to find somewhere to park and walk through the small burgh. We appreciated the chance to wander around, and we’re pretty sure our rental car appreciated leaving Culross without being maimed.
- You may have noticed the cobbled roads in the pictures. Be sure to wear good walking shoes to avoid tripping over uneven stones or slipping in the rain.
- Okay, if you read this far, you deserve the truth. Culross is Cranesmuir. Yeah, that’s right, we squeezed in an Outlander stop. We’re those tourists! 😛
A Rainy Day in Dalwhinnie