The Ballater Tour

June 2001
185 km

I took a short 3 months assignments job in Aberdeen with the promise that the job would last as long as I wanted it.
I did not like my new job and the staff there did not like me. Neither did I like Aberdeen. We mutually agreed that 3 months was more than enough and that I should move on. But I still did a satisfactory amount of cycling during these three months in Aberdeen. No less than 1000 kilometres. Most of them on longer tours during the weekends. This tour was my final Aberdeen tour before I moved to Belfast.

I managed to oversleep this sunny Saturday morning and did not start the tour before 1000. I rolled down a hill from my flat and cycled up another hill to the start of the 60 km run up the A 93 along River Dee. I was still a bit sleepy and I took it nice and steady up this flat road. The traffic was a bit heavy until I reached Peterculter and the only real climb on this run up to Ballatar. The climb was done in a docile tempo and I cycled past Banchory, Kincardine O'Neil and Aboyne to Ballater. The scenery was nice, but I was more concerned about keeping a nice rhythm without spending too much of my limited resources on the first one third of this tour.
I reached the very idyllic Ballater village and took a small break here at the old railway-station. I knew the next 20 km over the mountain would be hard. I also met some other cyclists here who were going in the opposite direction.
I took the road out of the village and up a steep climb. The road then descended down to a crossroad. I took the road up towards the Lecht Pass. Thankfully, I was not going over this much feared pass. That was my consolation of the day.
The very dusty road up the valley to the crossroad at a small bridge was quite flat. I have done this road twice before and I found it very easy this time. Obviously, I was in good shape ! The idyllic cycling ended very brutally at the bridge where the vertical climb took me up past a lodge to another bridge and climb up along a hillside. After a long climb, I finally reached the top at 450 meters above sea level and I took this picture.

At the top, looking towards the Lecht Pass.

The drop towards the River Don at Cock Bridge was vertical. I finally reached the river and took the road down towards Aberdeen again. The road down the River Don past Bellabeg to Glenkindie was good. It was a steady, fast descent through a narrow valley. It even had a couple of sharp climbs. Just before Glenkindie, I stopped at a pub for some lunch. I chose fish & chips. But I was not hungry so I had to abandon my meal and continue the tour.
The climb after Towie was pretty steep. The descent down to Mossat was both hairy and long. I now rejoined River Don again. The road was pretty narrow down this valley until Alford Bridge where I left this river for the last time. Both of us was going to Aberdeen. I was going over the hills at Alford and Westhill though. Alford is a nice village and I stocked up with some water before I continued over the plains to Aberdeen. Just after Alford, the road climbed up through a small forest. With tired legs and empty stomach, this climb was no fun. The descent was good though. The road was pretty flat until I reached the climb over Westhill. The road then dropped down to a valley after this climb before it climbed again over to a hill overlooking Aberdeen. The descent down to Aberdeen was pretty boring and I reached my flat again after eight hours on the saddle.

This is a very long tour with only one big hill and some smaller hills after that one. It also combine the two big rivers flowing through Aberdeen and I therefore dubbed it as “the two rivers” tour. It is an OK tour if you live in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire. It is an OK tour and nothing more.