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The route from Strathdon to Aboyne heads mainly southeast and is 17 miles long. With total climbing of 1,089 feet, this has been given a difficulty rating of 5.
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 route starts on the River Don and finishes on the River Dee, 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 first few miles, and the difference in scenery is stark – moorland, higher hills and more isolated.
You head south out of Strathdon / Bellabeg, immediately crossing the River Don and then cycling east to mile 4, before moving to a south westerly direction. The first 6.6 miles are constantly rolling. There is a sharp rise after just 0.2 miles, before a flatter section takes you to the first hill of the day at mile 2. After a short descent you hit the final significant climb of the day at mile 4.5, peaking at the high point of 1,237 feet at mile 6.5. You will then enjoy a long descent of 5.2 miles, passing through Tarland, with the final section from mile 11.7 being on flat, rolling roads. You enter Aboyne from the north and cycle half a mile through the town before finishing in the main square.
This route is more about the scenery than the sights. The first section is in the Cairngorm National Park, which you leave at mile 6.3. You will be on the main A97 from mile 4 – 7, which can be busy and fast so please take care. You pass through the village of Tarland at mile 11.3 and a stone circle after 12.4 miles, before passing close to Aboyne Castle at mile 16. 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.
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. There are plenty of options for food and drink including some good cafes and fine quality ice-cream purveyors!
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 Aboyne can be found here