Having found that the majority of country buses take bikes, I decided this time to get the bus out to Crathes for my onward journey to Ballater.
This also avoided the need for a “tour” of Banchory.
The first leg was via the Deeside Way again, running alongside the Royal Deeside heritage railway then through Banchory’s King George V Park. Then I headed south across the Dee and rather than following the Deeside Way to the right via Scolty Woods, I headed for Strachan on the South Deeside Road.
You first come to the bridge over the Feugh, where there is a pedestrian bridge alongside the road bridge to allow you to safely look for salmon heading upstream – a bit of a challenge when I was there as the river was in spate. Cycling on, Clachnaben comes into view with its famous tor. Indeed, you can see it constantly as you travel west to beyond Finzean. Then comes Strachan, with the road off to Fettercairn via the Cairn o’Mount.
In the village is a lovely children’s play area off to the left. Further on to the left is a fishery called Mill of Strachan. Then Finzean village hall on the right.
This must be one of the best village halls in the north-east and a venue for numerous social gatherings. Shortly after is the beautiful Birse and Feughside Parish Church. Finally on this stretch is one of my favourite places for lunch, the Finzean Farm Shop and Tearoom. Here I had a wonderful three-course lunch, my excuse being the time I needed to recharge my batteries. The pavlova with strawberries was fantastic, but don’t tell my wife.
Re-energised and powered up again I set off for Ballogie. I stopped for a while at the Butterworth Gallery, where the lady told me, for future reference, there was a power point in the old phone box.
Here, too, was a junction to the right leading to Potarch and a less steep route if you need one. Then up the hill to Birse, and beyond to Aboyne. Here you have the option of crossing the Dee and rejoining the Deeside Way to Ballater. I, however, carried on to Dinnet via the entrance to the Glentanar Estate, on the south road.
After Dinnet, I passed Ballaterach Farm where Lord Byron went for his holidays whilst staying in Aberdeen. His visits here inspired him to write the poem Dark Lochnagar.
Following this I reached the Pannanich Wells. Here, the Victorians would travel from afar to take the water because of its perceived healing powers. The location is now the site of a water-bottling plant, whose bottles also travel far and wide. Then, finally, a nice long descent to Ballater.
I later discovered on the way back to Aberdeen that the double decker buses don’t take bikes. Otherwise all the other buses, which are in the majority, do.
Indeed, I have found all the drivers most helpful, with many descending from their cab to assist me in stowing the bike. I’m also researching obtaining a low-level bike carrier for my car which will give me even greater flexibility in where to wander next.
Start: Crathes on the A93, then follow the B976 via Strachan and Finzean
Finish: Ballater Bridge Square on the A93
Distance: 32 miles
Time: 3 hours (excluding breaks)