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North East Way Tour

North East Way Tour (aka NEWT) is a 325km, 202mile self-supported bike packing route, experiencing the variance in terrain and surroundings the north east of Scotland has to offer... and it’s completely free to take part.

#NEWT202

To enter head over to our Events page to register your details.

Summary Route Information

327km / 202 miles

2,950m / 9,680ft elevation

Approximately 2 days riding

70% off-road

Plenty wild camping locations

Numerous towns and villages en-route to refuel or book a comfy bed

Gravel bike with 45mm tyres minimum is recommended

Detailed Route Information

Taking inspiration from the HT550, Deeside trail and the Capital trail amongst others, there was a bit of a geographical gap over on the North East of Scotland, which (from a biased perspective) potentially links the largest variance of landscapes.

 

Utilising the best of what is on offer, the North East Way Tour tries to links the highlights over a trip that should take on average a couple of days on varied terrain and surroundings. Being self-supported, the ethos should be familiar with other events and the general right to roam guidance, at simplest, take only pictures, leave only tyre tracks.

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Starting in the accessible outskirts of Aberdeen, the route initially skims along the well paved Deeside way out to Banchory, steadily climbing as it follows the Dee up the valley. Banchory marks the first change in the onset of adventure as you cross over the river Dee and pop through the pedestrian gate at the impressive gatehouse to allow access along the south edge of the Dee.

 

The path steadily becomes more rugged until it spits you out on the chundery forest road through Scolty Forest. Re-joining the Deeside way speeds up the pace and with the exception of a wee detour through Bell woods just before Aboyne, takes you all the way out to Ballater reeling in the Cairngorm mountains through the native scots pine and birch forests that line the pathway. 

Taking the opportunity to refuel in Ballater before heading into the wilderness, the route takes one last skim along the edge of the river Dee before cutting up across the main road and up a singletrack road to the east of the river Gairn. After the road ends, the track quickly becomes soft and rutted, but the effort is worth it for the views from the old smiddy at Ardoch before bumping back down to cross the river at a convenient suspension bridge and joining the main road to the impressive stone Gairnsheil Bridge. A little more westward on the tarmac reveals the turn off to head up the Gairn valley along some nice land rover tracks to Loch Bulig where the trail changes to more of a mountain bike single-track along the edge of the Loch. Don’t worry if you end up pushing some of this section as it allows more time to look around and soak in the wilderness reflected in the loch and boggy ponds before tip toing across a couple of rivers on the handy stepping stones. A couple more just-cycle-able river crossings lead to the stately Inchrory house and spectacular driveway through the imposing steep sides of the Avon river valley up to the sanctuary of Tomintoul.

Learning from the previous event route, the NEWT now takes the road up past the edge of the Glenlivet MTB trails, and back down to follow the river Avon, initially on the quiet back road and then after crossing the river, some old walkers paths. This revision misses out on the views from Cairn Daimh, but substitutes the hike-a-bike to reach to top, for a spin along the riverside popping out directly at Ballindaloch. Take care crossing the main road, especially in poor visibility!

Taking the old railway bridge over the Spey the trail flows along the recently upgraded Speyside Way hugging the curves of the River Spey and sneaking past several distilleries that are worth a smell in passing if not a stop for a taste! Arriving into Aberlour, a quick detour up to the main road may be required to refuel, perhaps at a café stop. At Craigelachie, the path looses its single use existence and heads through the Forest roads of Arndilly down a nadgery path to Boat o Brig and onto the characterful back roads that lead to Fochabers (watch out for the steep haipins!). Picking up the pathway along the flattening river estuary, Spey Bay marks the end of the northwards journey, and a further change to the scenery on offer. 

 

 

Keeping the sea view present for the majority of the time, the route uses a mixture of paths and roads following cycle route 1, at times giving a spectacular vantage point over the cliffs and beaches below. At Cullen the route moves slightly in land taking the back roads through Portsoy and over to Banff, taking the costal route round the town for scenic value, but the high street is there if stocks need replenishing. Heading south, the route follows the river Deveron away from the costal air and to the stunning Bridge of Alvah. 

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Using the characterful backroads of route 1, Turriff pops into view with its unique mixture of Sandstone and Granite buildings within the smoother rolling hills of the area. Skimming along the tarmac to Maud the final “Way” is reached in the form of the Buchan and Formartine Way taking the route of the old railway line south towards Aberdeen.

 

At this stage of the ride, the head may be down and all efforts on keeping the pedals turning, particularly in the man-made valleys of the railway cuttings that obscure the view, but a glance up on the more open sections still rewards with another distinct landscape.  

Arriving in Dyce signals a change of pace to city life, but taking the paths on the verges of built up area has its own pleasures, although sharing the paths with walkers and the like means requires some more awareness. Skirting the edges of Aberdeen, the route threads between residential and countryside until the Deeside way is reached again signalling the journey to be complete.

Useful Information 

  • Starting at 2pm, you should make Ballater for Tea time

  • Wild camping just before the suspension bridge at Gairnsheil is recommended

  • Glenlivet MTB trails café is worth a detour to refuel

  • Plenty campsites with facilities along the North coast section

  • Sunday around Banff means late opening for most shops, stock up the night before.

#NEWT is your best way to adventure the north east, what are you waiting for?

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