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The route from Banchory to Stonehaven heads east and south and is 15.2 miles in length. With climbing of 1,257 feet, this route has been given a difficulty rating of 5.
Banchory is known as the Gateway to Royal Deeside. The town was founded in the 6th century by St Ternan, a Pict who converted to Christianity. Banchory is home to Scotland’s first rum distillery, Dark Matters, and if you have the time then you should visit Crathes Castle and its grounds just east of the town. Whilst there, take some time to pop in to Milton of Crathes which has craft shops and a café / restaurant.
You head south from the centre of Banchory, immediately crossing the River Dee. You are basically heading uphill for the first 6.3 miles, though there is a flat section after 2 miles followed by a short ascent and descent. This is a lovely section of the route, but the road surfaces can be a bit sketchy so please take care. At mile 4.2 you join the A957 – known as the Slug Road, it can be busy and fast. You climb for the next 2.1 miles and should take some time to enjoy the spectacular views south and west.
The high point of the route is at mile 6.3 and you then have a fast descent to mile 8.7 where you leave the main road. The road is now broadly flat, and when you leave the woodland at mile 12 you will get super views to Stonehaven, with the town framed by the North Sea. The final part of the route is all downhill, and you cross the A90 via a bridge at the edge of Stonehaven (mile 13.8), navigating through town and finishing at the market square.
This route is a favourite of Ride the North, taking in classic Aberdeenshire terrain. You cross the historic Bridge of Feugh at mile 0.6 – if you are cycling at the right time of year you will get to enjoy leaping salmon and dramatic waterfalls. You pass standing stones at Glenhead at mile 3.4 and the edge of Durris Forest at mile 6.4. You will be able to see the Durris Transmitting mast, which stands 1,056 feet tall and is the highest man-made structure in Scotland. You also pass the remains of St Ciaran’s Church and Fetteresso Castle at mile 13.7.
Stonehaven lies in a nature harbour, and fishing was the chief commerce of the town into the early 20th century, with marine services and tourism being the dominant industries today. The most notable building in the town is the Tolbooth Museum, which was historically used as both a courthouse and a jail. Two miles to the south are the medieval ruins of Dunnotter Castle. The castle, which is open to the public, has a bloody history and played a prominent role in a number of important historical events, including the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745. There are plenty of food options in Stonehaven, including some of the best fish ‘n chips in the land!
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