Cycling All 10 Aberdeenshire Ascents in One Trip
26 July 2022
Are you brave enough to try this? The Aberdeenshire Ascents brings together 10 of the region's most challenging and rewarding cycling routes. As tough as they may be, this husband and wife team conquered all of the ascents in one trip! Hear from keen cyclist Judy Ross below to see how this momentous effort was accomplished.
It started with a weather window, as Neil had suggested climbing all the Aberdeenshire Ascents in one trip. After several permutations, we decided that Pennan to Glenshee was the ‘best’ route. I’d been complacent about this planned venture, until he noticed the forecast of midsummer-sun with little wind - we were determined to give it a go!
We set off one evening late June. First climb from Pennan - a short steep climb from the scenic shoreline and famous phone box before easing up into New Aberdour. We followed NCR1 through rolling farmland and quaint, quiet villages to Aberdeen, over an eerily quiet Haudagain Roundabout at 11:00pm (we don’t recommend this roundabout in the day time), before stopping for a carb-loaded meal and a couple of hours rest.
Back on the road around 3:00am. We tackled the short Causey Mounth climb in early morning haar, then caught the sunrise on the Mearns before climbing Cairn o’Mount - its steep sections were thankfully clear of traffic.
Too early in Banchory for the cafes, the local baker served an ample takeaway breakfast and coffees. We skirted below splendid Bennachie along the peaceful riverside to My Lord's Throat which was a gentle, pleasant climb.
After stopping at a local, friendly shop in Rhynie, we climbed the picturesque Cabrach before a rolling descent to the Suie climb. The views were more than compensating for Suie’s steep, notorious hairpin bend. A welcome descent to Alford for another snack before tackling the Queen's View ascent which offered a fantastic vista of all the local mountains.
Ballater, a last opportunity for supplies, we refueled in the warm evening sunshine before conquering the ‘Final 3’. Climbing Gairnshiel was glorious as we reached the top in time for a gorgeous sunset, but the Lecht was most spectacular. Still light at 11:00pm, we embraced the calming setting with the noise of wildlife.
Fading light made our descent cautious and tricky, then we headed back over Gairnshiel and Strone to Braemar. Pretty tired and cold for the last climb to Glenshee, we didn’t really appreciate the sunrise or the views, but we’d made it! A quick photo at the last sign before descending slowly, trying to keep warm - it’s hard to brake when you’re shivering! A friend had set up a very welcome, warming, wild camp for us near Braemar before heading home exhausted, yet exhilarated.
32 hours including all stops, 250 miles, 16,500 feet climbing. Would we do it again? Probably! Would we recommend it? Definitely!
Below is a snapshot of Judy's route, recorded via Strava.