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The route from Keith to Cullen heads broadly north and is 17.2 miles of length. With climbing of 994 feet this has been given a difficulty rating of 5.
Keith is a town of two fairly distinct parts, divided by the River Isla. The oldest part dates back to 1180 and developed around the bridge over the River Isla to the north. The Jacobites’ fought and won a skirmish near the town in 1746. There is an annual country show, and Keith is on the Malt Whisky trail. The town boasts three distilleries – Strathmill, Glenkeith and Strathisla – as well as housing the headquarters of Chivas Regal. The remains of Milton Tower, built in 1480, neighbour the railway station which has good links northwest to Moray and Inverness and south to Aberdeen.
The route heads northeast from the centre of Keith and crosses the River Isla at mile 1.4. You follow the river east to mile 3.2 before heading north. There is a small downhill to start, followed by a flat section, and you slowly start to climb from mile 3.8 – in fact, you head consistently uphill for the next 6.8 miles and it will feel like a bit of a slog, especially if the wind is unfavourable. The hardest sections of the climb are at miles 7.9 and 10.2, and you reach the high point of the day of 823 feet at mile 10.6. You then enjoy a fast descent to mile 13.9 before the roads rolls into Cullen from the south, finishing n the centre of town.
This route is more about the scenery than the tourist attractions, and it is a classic Moray stage that takes you through a rolling landscape of farm and woodland. The stark moorland of Knock Hill dominates the landscape to the east from mile 6.5, and you then pass through the historic land of the Innes family of Edingight around mile 7. The big climb of the day at mile 10 takes you through the Hill of Summertown plantation, and you will see the remains of Inaltry Castle outside the village of Milton at mile 13.8 before briefly entering Aberdeenshire before the village of Lintmill at mile 16.
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