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The route from Garmouth to Cullen is 14 miles in length and has climbing of 558 feet. There is virtually no flat on this stage so it has been given a difficulty rating of 5 – just hope that the west wind is blowing!
Garmouth is a small village and is famed as the landing place of King Charles II on his return from exile in 1650. The River Spey is the dominant feature and the estuary is a constantly changing environment, creating a succession of habitats from bare shingle to coastal grasslands, and brackish saltmarsh to wet woodland. If you have time you could cross to the east side of the river and visit Spey Bay, which has a museum and offers dolphin watching trips.
You head south and then east out of Garmouth, with a sharp descent at mile 0.6 before rolling roads and an equally sharp ascent at mile 2.9. This section of the route is never flat and will you will feel it in the legs. You negotiate a climb at mile 7.7 which continues to the high point of 190 feet at mile 10.3, with a false flat in the middle. You then have a very steep descent at mile 12.6 coming into Cullen, with an annoying climb to the finish in the centre of town.
You will enjoy some stunning coastal scenery on this ride, with beaches, cliffs and sea-stacks. At mile 0.7 you cross the estuary of the River Spey via the magnificent Spey Viaduct – it is real experience. You cycle through Portgordon at mile 4.6 and Buckie at mile 6, and if you’re lucky you will see the seal-colonies that frequent the Moray coast. Next up is Findlochty after 9.8 miles with its characteristic painted cottages, and finally Portknockie at 11.4 miles where you can see the famous Bow Fiddle Rock, a quartzite structure with a large sea-arch.
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!
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 email@example.com