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The route from Aboyne to Strathdon heads mainly northwest and is 17 miles long. With total climbing of 1,588 feet, this has been given a difficulty rating of 6.
Aboyne sits in the centre of Royal Deeside. The name was first recorded in 1260 and there is evidence of the Knights Templar in the immediate vicinity, though the town wasn’t formally founded until 1671. Aboyne and its inhabitants played a role in the Jacobite uprising of 1715. Because of its location it is a very popular tourist destination for those looking to explore Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms. It is a centre for outdoor activities including mountain biking, canoeing and gliding, and a full Highland Games is held annually in August.
This route starts on the River Dee and finishes on the River Don, so has a special place in the heart for us at Ride the North. It is classic Aberdeenshire, with lots of farm and woodland. But you are also cycling in the Cairngorm National Park for the last few miles, and the change in scenery is stark – moorland, higher hills and more isolated. You will get many a look at the Cairngorms to the west, looking angry and inviting.
You start in Aboyne village square and head west then north, reaching the outskirts of town at mile 0.8. The first 7 miles of this route are remarkably flat. You will cycle through Tarland at mile 5.4, and not long after the road starts heading up. This is not a difficult hill in that the gradients are quite steady, but it will feel like a slog. The ascent lasts for 3.4 miles and takes you to the high point of 1,234 feet at mile 10.4. There is then an easy descent before you climb again at mile 12.4, which coincidentally peaks at the same height of 1,234 feet. From mile 13.3 the route is mainly downhill or flat, with a wee bump at mile 16.4. You enter Strathdon / Bellabeg from the south, crossing the River Don and finishing in the village.
This route is more about the scenery than the sights. At mile 1 you will encounter Aboyne Castle – first built in 1233 as a motte and bailey before being fortified in 1307, it is owned by the Marquis of Huntly and was derelict for many years, before being restored in 1979. There is a stone circle at mile 4.5 and Tarland at mile 5.4 is a good place to stop for a coffee. You join the A97 at mile 10 which is a bit busier and a bit faster than the roads you’ve been cycling on, so please take care. You then cross in to the Cairngorm National Park at mile 10.7.
Strathdon is a village, but it is also an informal geographical area which takes in the village of Bellabeg. For many years the area was called Inverlochty due to its location at the confluence of the River Don and the Water of Lochty. There is a war memorial in the village, which hosts a traditional Highland Gathering. For cheese lovers, try out Strathdon Blue, Scotland’s answer to Stilton. This is a small place and you should pack extra provisions.
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 Strathdon can be found here