The Moray tour

May 2001
150 km

I took a short 3 months assignments job in Aberdeen with the promise that the job would last as long as I wanted it.
I did not like my new job and the staff there did not like me. Neither did I like Aberdeen. We mutually agreed that 3 months was more than enough and that I should move on. But I still did a satisfactory amount of cycling during these three months in Aberdeen. No less than 1000 kilometres. Most of them on longer tours during the weekends. This tour along the Moray coastline and Aberdeenshire was one of the best tours.

I was well prepared for this tour when I started in the morning with a descent down to the railway station in Aberdeen. I took the first train in the morning towards Inverness. After over an hour on the train, I jumped off at Elgin. The skies was grey and foreboding when I started on the 60 kilometres long road along the coastal road to Banff. The road was a bit undulating in the beginning over the farmlands and through some forest. It was starting to rain just when I arrived at the bridge over River Spey. The skies became almost black. I was seriously thinking about cycling the easier road over the mountains to Aberdeen through Huntly and Keith. I was dithering for twenty minutes before I decided to follow my original plan. Something I am very happy about now. I arrived at Fochabers shortly after crossing the bridge. I speeded up to claw back the lost time. Ten kilometres down the road and pretty fed up with the farmlands and the forest, I left the main coastal road and went down to the small village of Portgordon. This village was pretty nice and so was the coastline and the road along it. This photo is from that road.

The Moray coastline just after Portgordon.

The cycling was so much more fun along the sea. I soon passed through Buckpool before I reached Buckie. I followed the road to Findochty before I turned inland again and back to the main road. A short, sharp climb took me up to the mainroad again and some pretty boring cycling over to the hills towards Cullen. The views from the hill overlooking Cullen took my breath away. What a fantastic view ! Cullen and the surrounding landscape is dominated by the huge, disused viaduct. The coastal railway line was one of the victims of the massive railway line cull in 1964. Thankfully, they did not remove the viaduct. The village itself is situated on some rocks beneath the viaduct. Click on the link above for some truly astonishing pictures. Cullen is without any doubts one of the most spectacular looking villages in Scotland. I did not know about this village before I started this tour and it came as a huge surprise on me.

The following rain-shower did not come as a surprise on me. The road over to Portsoy followed some farmlands and was very exposed. The cycling became very difficult and slightly suicidal. I thankfully survived this ordeal and arrived at Portsoy. This is another nice village. But I was starting to freeze and I therefore wanted to get to Banff and a lunch.
The road now went inland over a small hill. A monsoon like rainstorm greeted me on this climb and the descent towards the sea just before Banff. The conditions was dangerous with wind directly from the left which threatened to blow me onto the other side of the road. The visibility was also very bad. I had to continue, but the cycling was pretty dangerous. I was very happy when the rainstorm stopped and I found myself alive and well down at the sea again. A small hill along the seafront took me over to Banff.
These 60 kilometres along the Moray coast was both hard (due to the weather) and fun. I was very glad that I did not turn around at River Spey. I found a cafeteria at the sea front in Banff and a good meal + a mug hot chocolate. I spent an hour here, overlooking Macduff on the other side of the bay.

I now turned my back to the sea for the 90 kilometres crossing of Aberdeenshire on my way back to Aberdeen. The tour started with the crossing of the bridge over to Macduff and then following the road up the river. The dangerous side-wind now turned to my advantage..... big time ! I had the wind in my back and the good lunch meant I was reborn. The very much improved weather was the icing on the cake. My speed therefore picked up and I was flying on the road. The climb up the river was pretty funny and not a problem. The wind helped me along on the top of the climb over to Turriff. The road became flat from here. This is very typical Aberdeenshire. A shire which is very flat and in sharp contrast to the rest of Scotland. The remaining three photos is from the road between Turriff and Oldmeldrum.

The hills to the west.

Typical Aberdeenshire (taken towards north-east).

The small climbs towards Oldmeldrum was both gentle and interesting with the wind in my back. My speed was pretty high and I only stopped for some water before I continued up the climb towards the hill overlooking Aberdeen. The photo is taken from the top of this hill.

The end of the tour, Aberdeen, in the far distance.

It was starting to rain again on the descent down towards Aberdeen and I was not happy with the rain and the heavy traffic. But finally managed to get down to some industrial estates. From there, the road was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. But I finally managed to find the Aberdeen ring road and my home.

This is a very good tour if done in good weather. Even in bad weather, I loved this tour. But the rain gave me some scares and the monsoon like rainstorm was no fun whatsoever. But I lived to tell the tale and nothing else matters. This tour is highly recommended.