This dramatic coastal route gives you glorious views of the Moray Firth. As much of the route is on the line of the old Moray Firth Coast Railway, you can take advantage of the lack of motor traffic to enjoy the spectacular coastline and the fishing villages which seem to cling precariously to it. Keep an eye out for dolphins, which are often spotted on this stretch of coast. If that isn’t enough, this ride gives you the ideal opportunity to judge the rival merits of two serious contenders for the title of Scotland’s best ice cream-makers – the Blue Moo Café in West Church Street, Buckie, and the Ice Cream Shop in Seafield Street, Cullen.
The route starts in dramatic fashion by passing high above Cullen on the old railway viaduct and along the cliff top track into Portknockie. Along the way, you’ll see the wave-cut arch of Bow Fiddle Rock, which provides an ideal roost for sea birds, and Seatown, a unique cluster of about 200 fisherman’s cottages, which is well worth exploring
From Portknockie, the disused railway path hugs the coastline to Findochty, a characterful former fishing village around a harbour known as Crooked Haven, before crossing the A942 and heading slightly inland to the fishing port of Buckie where there are shops and refreshments. The public library in the townhouses an important collection of watercolours by marine artist Peter Anson, and is well worth a visit. Anyone with an interest in the history of the fishing industry in this area is also advised to visit the Buckie & District Fishing Heritage Centre, which is open April to September, and October through to Christmas.
Beyond Buckie, the route uses a mix of roads and parts of the disused railway line to reach Portgordon, founded at the end of the eighteenth century by the 4th Duke of Gordon. The final leg of the journey into Garmouth follows back roads towards the Moray Firth Wildlife Centre before rejoining the disused railway line to cross the River Spey. To visit the Moray Firth Wildlife Centre or the Tugnet Ice House, continue on the B9104 to Spey Bay.
The route can be ridden in either direction, though there are no public transport options to shorten the return journey. Elgin station is just under 14 miles west of Portgordon along National Route 1 (mainly on-road); Keith station is just under 13 miles south of Cullen along the busy B9018. You can get most of the way from Cullen to Keith with a slightly longer ride along minor roads by continuing along National Route 1 to Fordyce and then turning south, but this will leave you to tackle about 4.5 miles of the A95.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.