Strathdon to Tomintoul (18 miles)

Routes presented on this site are free for everyone to use.
RtN153 is a challenge we are running from May to Sept – it will support the future of our event and will assist our tourism industry in difficult times. You can opt into that from 26 April when registration opens. » More Info «

The route from Strathdon to Tomintoul is 17.7 miles in length and entirely in the Cairngorm National Park. It has climbing of 1,916 feet and has been given a difficulty rating of 9.

This is a very tough stage which takes in the Lecht, perhaps the hardest hill included in the RTN153. It is not for the faint-hearted and you have to be physically prepared and properly dressed. The Lecht is high and exposed, the weather unpredictable and it can be very cold and windy. But it is also magnificent and some of the views are breathtaking, especially west towards the Cairngorm massif. This is Scotland at its best.

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.

You head southwest out of Strathdon on the A944, cycling through classic Aberdeenshire countryside. The first 7.8 miles are on rolling road, but you are slowly ascending and gain 400 feet on this section. You cycle alongside the River Don from mile 2, and follow its meandering route to mile 6.4, now on the A939. You’ll notice a change of scenery here, moving out of the woods and in to an altogether starker landscape. At 8.4 miles you pass close to Corgarff Castle – open to the public, this beautiful white clad, fortified building was built in 1530.

You now tackle the Lecht. There is no way to sugar coat this – it’s a brutal climb! It lasts for 2.6 miles with an average gradient of 8% and ramps of 20%, with the very first section being the toughest. There is a pattern of false flats and steep ramps, which is hard for both the head and the legs. The high point is 2,116 feet at mile 10.2. Hopefully the day is fine and you get the chance to enjoy the amazing views. There is another short spur and then you start descending – and what a descent it is! It lasts for 6.8 miles and you enter Tomintoul from the south east, finishing in the town centre.

Tomintoul, meaning Hillock of the Barn, sits at 1,132 feet above sea level. It is in Moray and the Cairngorms National Park, as well as being on the Malt Whisky Trail. It has a fine distillery which is worth a visit, and is home to the Whisky Castle, one of the best whisky shops in Scotland. Alongside tourism and whisky, the other major industry is farming. There are some café options in town, but the nature of the route means you should take some 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 neil@velodays.com

Route map for Strathdon To Tomintoul by Neil Innes on plotaroute.com