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The route from Stonehaven heads west and north to Banchory and is 15.2 miles in length. With climbing of 1,391 feet, this route has been given a difficulty rating of 6.
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.
You head west from the start point in the market square in Stonehaven, cycling through the town before hitting the open road at mile 1.5. You are heading up hill from this point all the way to mile 8.8. There is a tougher section between miles 1.5 and 3 before the road flattens, including a lovely wooded section that meanders alongside Cowie Water. You join the main A957 at mile 6.4 – known as the Slug Road, it is quite busy and fast so please take care. You have already started climbing again and keep going up to the high point of 797 feet after 8.8 miles.
You then enjoy a fast descent for the next two miles (the views north to Aberdeenshire and west towards Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms are spectacular), before turning onto quiet country roads again at mile 10.9. There is a short but tricky ascent before you hit rolling downhill roads (which may be a bit gravely) all the way to Banchory– this is a gorgeous section of road. You cross the River Dee from the south at mile 14.9 and finish in the town centre.
This route is a favourite of Ride the North, taking in classic Aberdeenshire terrain through farm and woodland. It will be enjoyed more for the scenery than for specific tourist attractions. You pass the remains of St Ciaran’s Church at mile 1.5. At the top of the Slug Road (mile 8.8) you pass the edge of Durris Forest and will be able to see the Durris Transmitting mast. At 1,056 feet it is the highest man-made structure in Scotland . There are standing stones at Glenhead at mile 11.6 and you cross the historic Bridge of Feugh at mile 14.6 – if you are cycling at the right time of year you will get to enjoy leaping salmon and dramatic waterfalls.
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 some lovely craft shops and a café / restaurant. There are lots of good café, restaurant and supermarket options in Banchory so you won’t go hungry.
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