An English Language Class Trip to Culross – Bring your Camera! 

Our language school activities menu has taken us outside Perthshire a couple of times recently, including to the beautiful Fife town of Culross (pronounced Coo-Ross). A town so picturesque that it regularly appears in a variety of period TV shows, including Outlander.

When you visit and wander along charming, peaceful streets, try to imagine them as they were once were; full of the hustle and bustle of a thriving 16th-century port on the River Forth.  

Admire the white-harled houses with red-tiled roofs that line the steep cobbled streets, which run from the market cross to the hilltop abbey.

It’s undeniably pretty, but they represent a traditional Scottish harbour-side way of life that is all but dying (second homes, declining fish stocks…)

Look across the water and the view is different again… as you will discover in this blog. 



There’s More to Visiting Scotland than Petty Places

Culross is an amazing town for a photography trip. It’s scenic,  but scratch the surface and find the local culture, stories and history.

Oh, and there’s some pretty interesting contrasts to capture with a camera.

In this blog I’ll guide you around some of the sights of Culross. Whenever we visit anywhere with our imemrsion English holidays, we take you behind-the-scenes to share items not on a traditional touristic itnery. 

We feel it makes for a most interesting holiday – and English challenge!


English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife
English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife
Traditionally beautiful, Culross, Fife


Wandering around this charming town is about as close to stepping back in time to the 16th century as possible. The whitewashed, red-tiled buildings are well preserved, such as the Town House, where witches were tried and held while awaiting execution.

Visit Scotland Website

Community Action and Activism

Don’t miss visiting Culross Jetty!

In a wonderful local initiative which is being rebuilt stone by stone. All who walk on it to drop a single stone when they visit.

Indeed, over over the few years that we’ve been visiting Culross, the jetty has emerged out of the sea once more.

It’s a powerful metaphor and example of what a community united can achieve. (Something we love sharing on our immersion holidays). 

Culross Jetty, with post-production colour manipulation (Lunapics)
English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife

Traditionally Scenic?

Culross is a spectacular place to view a sunset.

Look down the River Forth and you find a contrasting industrial scene.

The (disused) Longannet Power Station was the last coal-fired power station in Scotland. In its heyday, it was the largest coal-fired station in Europe.


Longannet Power Station was also one of the most polluting in the UK, with tonnes of ash produced daily.

What didn’t hit the atmosphere was scraped up and piled on a local island, changing the landscape (and ecosystem) there completely.


English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife

Other Culross Highlights

You don’t miss a visit to the Red Lion pub, some of the best – and most generous – pub food.
Culross Pottery and Gallery cram an amazing selection of quality Scottish artwork (originals and prints) and jewellery into an impossibly small space. It’s a real treasure trove of fabulous – but be warned, it’s hard to leave empty-handed!

Uneasy Bedfellows 

The picturesque town also looks across the water at Grangemouth’s huge Petroineos Oil Refinery, which is one of the UK’s largest manufacturing sites.


The Petroineos Oil Refinery is Scotland’s only crude oil refinery (where the bulk of fuel used in Scotland is produced) and where an array of petrochemical plants twinkle quite prettily in the evening light.

In contrast to the little fishing town of Culross, Ineos has an annual turnover of £46 billion and is chaired by Britain’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

FIY, Ineos actively champion fracking in England and Wales (currently on hold in Scotland, thanks to Scotland’s largest political party, the SNP).
English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife
Grangemouth Oil Refinery from Ben Shee,
Post-production editing (Lunapics)

Other Things to Capture on Film

16th century Culross is unusually preserved and has old-world charm in spades.

Within its streets you may forget that the recent story of the River Forth is an industrial one: the Forth Rail Bridge spans the river mouth at Edinburgh in glorious testament to the ingenuity of engineering and industrial ironwork.


Unfortunately, the river and its shores are seriously polluted by contemporary industry.

A quarter of the population of Scotland lives by the shores of the Forth.

Levels of some harmful chemicals are high and, due to the plastic industry around the Forth, the ecosystem is menaced by millions of tiny plastic beads (cutely named ‘nurdles’) spilling into waterways and spreading across the beaches and mudflats to be ingested by molluscs, sea birds and estuary wildlife.



“Last April a young humped backed whale was spotted in the Forth Estuary. Unknown to all who joyously glimpsed it, it had already been entangled in fishing ropes for some weeks, which ultimately caused it infection and death.”

Ruth, 2020

“This is a Strange Kind of Tourism!”

Exactly, we’re an alternative English language school. 

Join us on an English language class trip and we’ll try to show you the real places.

Our clients are often artists and designers who want to learn about the culture of contemporary Scotland. Not the silly postcard version trotted out for tourists unwilling to see deeper than the surface.

We don’t believe that it will make you love a place (or English language) any less.
Knowledge is enriching. 
It’s always a pleasure to visit Culross, dip into the 17th century and see the best of what Scottish tourism can offer visitors in terms of the built environment, landscape, art and hospitality.

But that does not mean we do so without critique.

Time for Change

At Blue Noun, we believe now is the time to address the pollution of The Forth with strict new laws controlling shipping and handling of plastics for industry.

This means increased industry inspections (with serious financial penalties for breaches of health and safety, security and environmental standards).

It also will require a nationwide reduction of single-use plastic. (On the coast, domestic rubbish easily blows into waterways – even after it has been placed in the right recycling bin).

Without urgent action, what Scotland offers its tourists may still retain the charm of a film set in places. It may also have patches of nostalgic, romanticised past. However, without new plastics regulations, it criminally disregards contemporary Scotland and offers the poorest of futures.

Immersion English Language Class

Thank you for reading about our English language class trip to Culross. 

I hope we have pointed out a few things of cultural interest in Culross – some things that might make you want to pick up a camera – and use it as a tool for making art in some way.

What do you think? If you were on one of our English language school photography trips – which subject you like to work with?

Let us know in the comments!

text Perthshire Open Studios blog

Want to read more about Culross? We recommend the Visit Scotland website here.

Find the Red Lion Pub here.

And the Culross Pottery & Gallery here.

Want to know more about photography opportunities on our English language class trips? Try this blog:

Have a Thrilling Photography Experience on Your Next English Language Holiday