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The route from Aberdeen to Banchory on the south side of the River Dee is 22 miles long. It is not for the faint-hearted with 1,594 feet of climbing to a maximum elevation of 610 feet. Rivers don’t flow uphill but cyclists do, and with little respite from the climbing until mile 12, this route has a difficulty rating of 7. It is mainly situated in Kincardineshire rather than Aberdeenshire.
You will start in the Duthie Park in central Aberdeen, and if you have time it is worth having visiting the Winter Gardens and cactus house (obviously!). You will then head along the River Dee before having to negotiate the very busy Bridge of Dee roundabout – please take care. Now on the south side of the river, you will turn left half a mile after the roundabout (near Banchory-Devenick) and immediately hit the toughest climb of the route which lasts for 1.7 miles, ascending 400 feet in the process. You will be able to hear traffic on the A90, but you’ll be cycling on quite roads through gorgeous farming and woodland – it is a lovely contrast. Continuing on rolling roads, you will twice cross the Aberdeen ring-road at miles 6.4 and 7.2, and will slow climb for 4.8 miles. This is a great section on which to test your legs, but is harder than you might imagine, especially if the prevailing westerly wind start blowing. The views north are magnificent and you can see Bennachie and the Mither Tap (near Insch) quite easily, as well as the suburbs of Aberdeen.
After 12 miles you finally get some descending into Woodlands of Durris, before continuing along beautiful (but sometimes gravely) farm roads. It is here that the views west and south to the foothills of the Cairngorms can be seen, and they are spectacular. You also pass the edge of Durris Forest and will be able to see the Durris Transmitting mast. At 1,056 it is the highest man-made structure in Scotland and provides telecommunication services from St Andrews in Fife all the way to Fraserburgh on the north Aberdeenshire coast.
At 17.4 miles you briefly join the Slug Road (which connects Banchory and Stonehaven, before going back on to quiet farm roads. At 17.8 miles there is another tricky (but short) ascent, passing the standing-stones at Glenhead, and then it is mainly downhill through farm and woodland. With only nature as your companion, this is a gorgeous section of road.
At the very end of the route you will cross the historic Bridge of Feugh, where the river joins the Dee. If you are cycling at the right time of year you will get to enjoy leaping salmon and dramatic waterfalls, and you could also take some time to eat at the Falls of Feugh restaurant. From here it is a very short hop north where you recross the River Dee and arrive in Banchory town centre.
By clicking on the ‘play’ symbol on the graphic below you can see route map. The elevation profile of the ride can be seen via the Hills tab with files for use with a GPS a device also available for download. If you take any photos of the route that you’d like to share, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
Onward rides from Banchory can be found here