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The route from Strichen to Banff is 21.8 miles in length and has total climbing of 1,749 feet. Two thirds of the cycle follows the topography of the north Aberdeenshire coast and there are some particularly challenging climbs, so this route has a difficulty rating of 7.
Strichen sits on the River Urie and there is considerable evidence of ancient settlements nearby, including the Strichen Stone Circle and the Catto Long Barrow south of the town. The most significant building is the Town House, a superb example of early 19th century architecture. Nearby Mormond Hill is fascinating for its historical mix. The hill is littered with disused satellites and masts which are the remnants of US communications posts from the Cold War; and you can also see the Strichen White Horse (one of only 16 in the UK) as well as the White Stag, the only known example of a manmade stag hill figure in the UK.
There is so much to say about this route! If the sun is shining and the wind benign, then this will be a stunning cycle. You initially head north and west through pretty farmland, but when you reach Pennan the dramatic coastline will be the predominant feature, with cliffs and beaches and rock formations. Pennan is 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). You will next pass 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.
Leaving Strichen, you will head slowly uphill for the first 5.9 miles of the route, passing Allans Hill radar station at mile 5, before heading downhill through the village of New Aberdour. With the beautiful Aberdour Bay on your right, you hit the first tough hill of the day at 7.7 miles before descending quickly into Pennan (it’s a very steep section, so take care). You then have to negotiate the hardest climb (18% in parts) which lasts for 2.6 miles and takes you to the high point of 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 19.6 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. You could also reward yourself with a single malt at the Macduff Distillery on the east side of the Deveron.
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