The route west from Fraserburgh to Banff is 22.8 miles in length and has climbs totalling 1,824 feet. Most of the cycling is slightly inland from the north Aberdeenshire coast, but the route follows the coastal topography and is therefore extremely lumpy. There are some particularly challenging climbs and so this has a difficulty rating of 7. If the wind is blowing from the west then it will feel much harder. Sorry!
Known locally as The Broch (an Iron Age, drystone structure and the old Scots word for fort), Fraserburgh is a major fishing port specialising in shellfish, white fish and pelagic. The town was founded in the early 16th century by the Fraser family, and the first harbour was built in 1590. If you have time, you could visit Kinnaird Head Lighthouse or the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses. The town is also famous for its array of impressive 19th century churches.
There is so much to say about this route! If the sun is shining and the wind benign, then this will be a simply stunning cycle. You will mostly be in open farmland, but the dramatic coastline will be the predominant feature, with cliffs and beaches and rock formations. You will pass through Pennan, a fishing village founded in the 18th century (and also a mecca for film buffs who come to see the red telephone box used in the film Local Hero), before cycling close to Gardenstown, another fishing village where you can see the ruins of the ancient church of St John as well as the remains of the Castle of Findon. This entire area has evidence of Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements.
Heading west through Fraserburgh town centre, you will move slightly inland at mile 1.7 and then start going gently uphill for the next 6.7 miles. You will pass close to Gallows Hill and the Hanging Stone (no explanation required!) at mile 5.4 and the beautiful Aberdour Bay at 7.4 miles. Your legs will be warm now, which is just as well as you encounter the first really tough climb at New Aberdour after 8.4 miles. After a sharp descent into Pennan, you then have to negotiate the hardest hill of the day – 2.6 miles, with the first 0.6 mile section particularly tough. The top of the hill is also the high point of the route at 591 feet – take some time to admire the views as they are spectacular. The road is mainly downhill all the way to Banff, but there are still lots of lumps so there won’t be much freewheeling.
You will hit the east side of Macduff at 20.3 miles. Cycling through the town, you will cross the estuary of the River Deveron into Banff via a wonderful seven arch bridge built in 1779. The final part of the cycle take you along the edge of town to the seafront.
Banff is an ancient place and was first mentioned in royal charter in 1163 . It was considered a trading town for many centuries – despite its location, the harbour was only built in 1775. Banff has a beautifully preserved townscape with many historic buildings, including a museum that was gifted by Andrew Carnegie. There are some lovely beach and cliff walks to both the east and west, and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to allow you to refuel.
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 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 Banff can be found here