Cairnbulg is a small harbour with a very narrow entrance and awkward approach situated opposite Fraserburgh in Fraserburgh Bay.
The harbour here was started in the 1920s when the present east wall was built but money ran out and it was not until the early 1980s that the west wall was built to enclose the present harbour. It is a drying harbour with a hard sand bottom, so of no use to the cruising fin keeler but for those who can take the ground it is a delightful, off-the-beaten-track harbour which does not, as yet, charge harbour dues to the visiting yachtie.
It is an ideal stopping off point if one needs to hold before rounding Rattray Head. Ideally one leaves the Moray Firth and makes directly for Peterhead but often that means a very early start to catch the south bound stream at Rattray Head; a stop here can be very much less arduous! In 2009 they increased the depth in the Western half of the harbour and put in a pontoon which gave more berthing options.
It is about a half mile walk in to the village of Cairnbulg which transforms itself into the village of Inverallochy as you go further SE ( be careful not to call one the other, there is a proud rivalry!).
Cairnbulg is a typical NE Coast fishing village; most of the houses are single story granite built buildings although many have been converted to two stories with attic conversions and dormer windows. You will also notice a preponderance of what in Scotland are called “drying greens; this because the houses were built without large gardens and the open spaces in between were used to dry the laundry; the greens on the shore line may have been used for nets in the old days but they now fulfil this function as well.
Cairnbulg Castle is an historic fortified tower house dating back to the 13th century. The castle stands beside the River Philorth, and indeed, it was originally called Philorth Castle.
The castle was founded by the Comyns, Earls of Buchan, sometime in the late 13th century, at a time when this area of north east Scotland was under almost constant Norse threat. Though it is now well inland, at the time it was built the castle probably occupied a strategic position guarding coastal approaches. The stretch of land now between the castle and the coast gradually filled in with sand and silt over the course of time, leaving the castle a long walk from the shore.
The castle was destroyed by Robert the Bruce during his ‘Harrying of Buchan’, following the Comyn’s unsuccessful bid for the throne. The castle was granted to the Earls of Ross, and Joanna, daughter of the 5th Earl, helped restore the castle after her marriage to Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie in 1375. They built the imposing tower which forms the central part of the castle we can see today. Sometime in the 16th century a second tower, this time in round shape, and several wings were added.