Five exciting cycling routes to try in Aberdeenshire
Cycling is a great way to explore Aberdeenshire’s diverse countryside and experience its stunning scenery up-close. With the weather warming up, now is the perfect time to discover the region's network of bike paths. We've rounded up five routes to suit all ability levels for a fun day out in the north east.
Braemar to Glen Clunie
This short and easy route runs through Braemar, a scenic village in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. At just six miles, it’s a gentle introduction to cycling in the area.
There’s plenty to see on the way, including Braemar Castle, Clunie Water and some breathtaking views of the Glen. Braemar is also home to nearby Balmoral Castle and the Braemar Gathering, one of the most famous Highland Games. The holiday cottage where Robert Louis Stevenson started writing his famous novel Treasure Island can also be reached with just a small detour.
Portsoy, Sandend and Fordyce Circular
For a short option that really packs a punch, it’s hard to beat this easy to moderate 17.5-mile route which begins close to Portsoy’s historic harbour before continuing across the countryside.
Further along the way, the route passes through the conservation village of Fordyce, with its tiny streets, original medieval layout and fairytale castle featuring turrets – you may just feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The village is even more picturesque in summer, with local gardens adding colour to the scene. The path then passes Kilnhillock Wood before reaching a beautiful beach in Sandend.
Stonehaven to Inverbervie
This scenic 25-mile route is more challenging, but worth it for the fantastic views. Starting and finishing in the centre of seaside town Stonehaven, there are several sightseeing opportunities along the way.
After the first uphill stretch out of town, the Bervie Braes provide an ideal lookout spot over the harbour and bay. Before long, you’ll find Dunnottar Castle which is well worth a visit for more spectacular views. Kineff Church, where the Scottish Crown Jewels were allegedly hidden during the Wars of Independence, is another interesting stop.
A small detour leads to the Grassic Gibbon Centre, a museum about the local author who is famous for writing some of the most important Scottish novels of the 20th century. The route then veers inland for the final stretch back towards Stonehaven.
The Deeside Way
The Deeside Way mostly runs along the Old Royal Deeside Railway between Aberdeen city and Ballater in the Cairngorms National Park. The route is 41 miles long, but can easily be split up into shorter sections. It’s mainly off-road and not too steep, making it ideal for families.
As well as wonderful views of the River Dee and Cairngorm Mountains, there are plenty of interesting sights both on and off the path. Drum Castle, one of Scotland’s oldest tower houses, is well worth a short detour, and there are several old train stations, bridges and churches along the way.
Each section offers a different experience, covering the suburbs of Aberdeen, the town of Banchory, countryside views, stretches of forest and the spectacular scenery of the National Park.
The Formartine and Buchan Way
The Fortmartine and Buchan Way is a former railway that’s been described as one of the best routes in the UK. At 40 miles, it’s a peaceful off-road track that’s mostly flat, so another ideal choice for a family day out.
There are plenty of pit stops for refuelling and interesting plants and wildlife can be spotted along the way including deer, foxes and buzzards. Other places of interest include Aden Country Park, Drinnie’s Wood Observatory and Strichen Stone Circle.
At the small town of Maud, the route splits into two, leading either east to Peterhead or north to Fraserburgh.
If you’d like to discover even more of the north east by bike, Aberdeenshire Council has put together a handy guide of the region’s cycle paths which you can find here.