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The route from Cullen to Banff is 13.6 miles in length and has climbing of 778 feet. It has been given a difficulty rating of 4. If you look at the profile of the route it looks tough, so hope for a west wind!
Cullen is an ancient village, first mentioned in Scots history in 952 and receiving royal burgh status in 1153. The organs of the wife of Robert the Bruce are said to be buried in the Auld Kirk. It is a fishing community which overlooks a natural harbour and a wonderful, clean beach, with brightly coloured residences. It also sits on the Moray Coast Trail, and used to be a stop on the Great North Scotland Railway – now, the spectacular 8-arch viaduct is a cycle path and walkway, and a favourite photograph for the numerous tourists who visit the town. It is the home of Cullen Skink, a haddock based soup. There are a number of café options in town, so try the authentic experience!
You head south out of Cullen and climb for the first 0.5 miles before descending onto a flat section and turning east. You are now in Aberdeenshire, and your first hill arrives after 2.5 miles – it is very difficult, though short, and you reach the high point of 269 feet at mile 3.6. The next section is mainly downhill or flat, though there are a number of spikes to keep your legs warm. The hardest hill of the day is at mile 7.2 as you leave Portsoy – it only lasts 0.5 miles but is exceptionally steep. You descend for 1 mile before the last climb of the day at mile 8.5. You start to head downhill from mile 9.6 all the way to the finish, entering Banff from the west and finishing on the seawall overlooking Banff Bay.
This is most definitely an Aberdeenshire route with rolling hills in an agricultural setting, but the coast dominates this cycle – it is a rugged setting and some of the views are spectacular. At mile 4 you pass through Fordyce with its Baronial style castle in the centre, and pass through Portsoy at mile 6.4 – this is a pretty village with a natural harbour and fantastic coastal topography, made famous by its two major exports, ice-cream and jewellery. You will pass the remains of Boyne Castle at mile 8.5 and the remains of St Brendan’s Church in Inverboyndie at mile 12.
Banff was first mentioned in royal charter in 1163 . It was considered a trading town for many centuries – despite its location, the harbour was only built in 1775. Banff has a beautifully preserved townscape with many historic buildings, including a museum that was gifted by Andrew Carnegie. The estuary of the River Deveron is crossed via a magnificent seven arch bridge built in 1779. There are some lovely beach and cliff walks to both the east and west. You might also want to visit the Macduff Distillery on the east side of the Deveron (you deserve a dram!) and there are plenty of café and restaurant options.
By clicking on the ‘play’ symbol on the graphic below you can see route map. The elevation profile of the ride can be seen via the Hills tab with files for use with a GPS device also available for download. If you take any photos of the route that you’d like to share, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org