Aberdeen City Rides: Epic Aberdeen Circuit
I posted this first when we were just about to open up from the last lockdown. It was glorious weather and a trails were running well. It seems like just the right time to put it out again now.
It is possible to have an epic ride from the city. This 65km route, with 1000m of climbing, is preparation for big mountain rides later in the year. Most of the route is covered in earlier posts, so I refer to those to keep this post short.
From the the start point in Torry Battery drop down the hill on to the coast path and follow it south. At Greyhope bay (the large carpark), take a track leading straight across the golf course to the coast road (with caution now courses are open), and continue south taking a cycle path where possible. At some traffic lights, and a railway bridge, rejoin the road as far as a car park at Doonies Farm. Take a path up hill from the northend of the carpark, and follow it around the fencing for about 2.5km, keeping left, across Tullos Hill to Wellington Road dual carriageway. Cross both Wellington Road and Tullos Road into Red Moss Road, then take a path across Kincorth Nature Reserve that leads from Red Moss Walk. Follow this keeping left until the path passes a stone bench (this is a reverse of ABZ City Rides: Kincorth Nature Reserve, Tullos Hill, Doonies and Torry).
A narrow path leads through the gorse to the south, follow this and then a track down to the A92. Cross the A92 carefully into a track at Redcraigs, and follow it through farmland to a t-junction. Make a right here, then left to reach a school. The route enters the woods from a track behind the school (part of ABZ City Ride: Kincorth to Clochandighter Route). Trace an indistinct path through Brodie Wood, roughly parallel to the road, and pop out of a hedge at a road junction. Take the road up hill to the crossroads. Follow the road westwards for 2.5km, right at a t-junction, the left, down hill through the forest (Sustrans Route 1). Just before the AWPR, there is a new gate to a track on the right, which runs behind a house. Follow the track downhill all the way to the river.
Cross the river on the main road and climb the cyclepath past a junction on the North Deeside Road and take a single track road behind Kippe Lodge (Reverse of ABZ City Ride: Den of Cults, Foggieton Woods Route). Take a trail, through a gap in the Rhododendrons on the right and keep heading on to the Culter House Road. Follow this uphill, to open ground, then back a sharp right (to South Lasts), then left on to a track.
From here there is a great view west in to Deeside, Cain-mon-earn, Clachnaben, Mount Keen and Lochnagar, known collectively as the Mounth. This is the high ground that divides Deeside from the Mearns and Angus Glens to the south. This may have been where the Pictish Kings, in the northeast of Scotland, were defeated by the Romans in 86 AD. Edward I crossed it between 1296 and 1303 during his invasions, although maybe not by the Fir Mounth where there is a memorial to his journey. He likely crossed the Dee four times, at Durris, Causey Mounth (Banchory Devenick), Cairn o'Mount and Kincardine o'Neil when ford and ferries were more common. Nowadays, the Mounth Paths, old droving road that cross the Mounth, make excellent biking trails similar in scale to this route. When you do this route, make sure you are well prepared. Carry the same kit you would for a big day out in the Cairngorms (see blog).
Follow the track downhill, turning right before the farm, until it eventually reaches a road at Blacktop. Turn right, pass under the AWPR, then left into Countess Wells Woods just before the lay-by. Head north along the western edge of the woods, until there is a view of the Primefour Business Park. Take a sharp left, climb over gates, down to the main road (a small part of the ABZ City Ride: Leuchars Moss Route in reverse).
Turn right and follow the cycle path through the business park (look for A2+B). Take a small path beside the wall at the northern entrance, and continue parallel to the road on a farm track. Join the road briefly and then climb steeply up left, opposite Kingswood Drive. Follow the track across the AWPR and towards Brimmond Hill. At a sharp lefthand bend in the track take a path in to the woods and keep left through the woods, and eventually the reaching the summit - the high point for this route 266m. Some hike-a-bike may be required here as described in ABZ City Ride: Brimmond Mini-Cairngorm.
Take the road from the summit (or a path that runs west then north, parallel to the road) to a car park. At a road take a signposted path beside the golf course just down hill. Follow the path around the course to a stream crossing then keep left to contour around Elrick Hill. Keep left and the path reaches the road at the Tyrebagger Carpark (part of the earlier blog). Take the road northeast, and carefully cross the A96 in to Kirkhill Forest. This route takes the main trails around the edge of the forest, over the hill past Tappie Tower, then right down a cobbled path and farm track to a bridge over the AWPR.
Cross the bridge, then take an indistinct path to the left, just to the right of the trail junction. This broadens out in to a double track to Overton and the main road. There is a route choice here. If your feeling strong, follow the route along the River Don. Take the next left, under the AWPR, and pick up an indistinct river path by crossing a field, starting at Aberdeen Anglers car park. This route has a few gates to cross and the surface is heavy going. The alternative is to take the busy road around the north end of the airport to the Parkhill Bridge.
The finish of the route is a reverse of the ABZ City Ride: Seaton Park, River Don Path ride. After Parkhill bridge, take a track on the right through a gatehouse to a lochan. Take a right turn in to the woods, just after the western edge of the lake and follow this track along the margin of the woods to Whitestripes Road. Turn right on to the road, then left into the woods, just after the next road junction. This path, which is narrow in places, follows the edge of the wood, to reach the houses on Woodcroft Avenue (about 2km). The path emerges between the houses, head straight on to an open park and follow trails southeastwards to the Scotstown Road. Cross the road into Scotstown Moor, and head straight across the moor, then turn right to reach its southernmost point. At a road cut left then right in to the woods. Follow the path through the woods, to the main road, across the large roundabout and into playing fields. Cross the playing fields, and take a path marked Brig 'o Balgownie on right its southern edge. Just before the bridge, take the path along the northern bank to the Bridge of Don. Now the home straight, literally, is down the esplanade to Footdee.
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