Adventures around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
5 August 2021
This blog comes from Andy Cox, creator of the European Divide Trail, and gives detail to a fascinating and diverse off-road cycling tour of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, taking in many of the highlights and points of historical and cultural interest this county has to offer. With a huge variety of different types of trail on offer; from moorland tracks, ancient drovers trails and modern forest roads, to cycle paths on disused railway line beds, with numerous small roads and quiet lanes to link then all together.
From the coast to the mountains, through farmland and forest, sand dunes and wind farms, past castles and sleepy fishing ports, ancient monuments and modern cities. As long as you're well prepared on an off-road capable bike, there's plenty of accommodation options along the way, and plenty of cafés and restaurants, distilleries and ice-cream parlours to visit.
Perhaps a night in a bothy appeals to you? Then the route goes past Charr Bothy in Glen Dye. If you fancy a rugged and exhilarating ride to the top of Mount Keen and back, then just keep on up Glen Tanar and ride the loop around the most easterly of all the Munros. At the upper end of the Dee Valley you'll go through the Balmoral Estate where the Queen has her Scottish residence, also in the Dee Valley there is the potential to visit various whiskey distilleries and the Linn of Dee where the river is forced through a narrow gorge shouldn't be missed.
Then it's past stone circles and over an Iron Age cairn at Pressendye, before traversing the edge of the Cairngorms towards the coast at Portsoy, with a diversion past ancient quarries near Huntly and another distillery in Glen Dronach. Along the coastline of the Moray Firth for a while through Banff and Macduff, and it's back up into the hills across moorland and farmland before joining part of the Formartine and Buchan Way for a few miles from Strichen, before turning off towards the coastal sand dunes.
A tranquil few miles are spent riding around the Loch of Strathbeg with its fascinating history and ruined castle, coast guard houses and the pretty Rattray Head lighthouse. Then it's back inland once again to rejoin the Formantine and Buchan Way, which is a disused railway line now converted to a cycle route, but first a quick tour of the Forest of Deer. You'll then follow the traffic free cycle route almost all the way back into Aberdeen, before turning off the route and following bits of the River Don back into the Granite city.