Cycling in North East Scotland

Cycling in Scotland
Looking for information about cycling in North East Scotland? Cycling UK's guide to cycling in North East Scotland gives you routes, events, clubs and advice to inspire you to cycle in the county.

Dundee, the Cairngorms and whisky roughly sums up North East Scotland. The area comprises the local authorities of Angus, Aberdeenshire and Moray, all contained in the triangle of land jutting into the sea - a geographically diverse area with cultivated farmland to the south, and wild mountains edged with cliffs to the north.

Once in Dalwhinnie, lovers of single malts are in heaven – or Speyside, at least. From here down to the mouth of the Spey at Buckie they can follow the river along quiet roads, car-free riverside paths and railtrails, through superb scenery (particularly the few miles east of Aviemore along the westerly edge of the North Eastern border, which are family-friendly). It also goes past countless distilleries, with many open for tastings. It’s a very relaxing multi-day trip.

The Cairngorms are mostly too mountainous to have roads, although hardcore mountain bikers have some of the most thrilling trails in the UK. For tourers, the hills and valleys north-east of Tomintoul (another whisky town) have fine lanes to explore. From ‘whisky capital’ Dufftown, a family-friendly off-road path through woods can get you 12 miles to Keith, and a heritage railway can take you and bikes back.

Aberdeen itself – the Granite City, with stern imposing historic buildings and pleasant promenade – is reasonable enough to cycle round. It offers, from nearby Dyce, perhaps the longest railtrail in the UK: the Formartine and Buchan Way’s rough Y-shape, with arms that end at Fraserburgh and Peterhead, totals over 50 miles. It’s all cyclable, although apart from short stretches (from Dyce, for instance) it’s unmade surfaces, best done on a mountain bike.

NCN1 goes all along the coast’s two sides of a triangle. Spurring off it as it goes through Aberdeen is the Deeside Way, following an old railway west nearly 28 scenic miles to Ballater. Mostly level and traffic-free, with some short on-road sections, it’s a fine family choice. If you're after beautiful views of Moray's coastline, try the NCN1 section running from Cullen to Kinloss - the views from the clifftops are especially breathtaking.

Cycling groups and clubs in North East Scotland

CTC Grampian (North East Scotland)

Informal club which provides for all types and abilities of cyclists in the North East of Scotland

Moray Mountain Bike Club (Moray)

Promotes fitness through biking and other types of sports and exercises

DHFarm (Banff)

Bike park and cycle club running uplift days for fun and the development of DH riding

The Bike Shack / Networks of Wellbeing (Huntly)

Promotes and supports people in improving their mental health and wellbeing

Belles on Bikes Moray (Moray)

Aims to support women cycling together in a friendly, relaxed and inclusive environment

Aberdeen Multicultural Cycling Club (Aberdeen)

ConocoPhillips Cycling Club (Aberdeen)

Exploration and production company with branches round the globe

Ecurie Neep Mountain Bike Club (Aberdeen)

Social cross country and downhilling with some racing

Belles on Bikes Aberdeenshire (Aberdeen)

Cycle Friendly Kingussie (Kingussie)

Angus Cycling Club (Forfar)

Offers Sunday rides, Audax events, social away weekends

Rossie Young People's Trust (Rossie)

Provides accommodation, education, care and support to the young people of Scotland

Mearns Cycle Hub (Mearns)

Bike hire; coaching for schools, communities, companies and individuals; recycled bikes; events

Angus Ladies Leisurely Cyclists (Angus)

Alyth Hill Users Group (Alyth Hill)

Protecting and conserving Alyth Hill for better access

Special Treats Trykers (Dundee)

SCYD Cycling Club (Dundee)

Ride - On (Dundee)

Dundee Bike Club (Dundee)

Dundee Cycling (Dundee)

Aims to make cycling a normal, everyday activity in Dundee

Dundee Wheelers (Dundee)

Dundee Thistle (Dundee)

Carolina Community Cycling Club (Dundee)

Dundee women (Dundee)

Bronze plaques celebrating 25 women associated with the city

What to take with you on your ride 

The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: in Britain you’re only a call away from any service you might need.

But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebag or rear rack and panniers are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.

Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy. (They don’t have to be lurid colours.)

If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock. 

It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They’re price of a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.

Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schraeder’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help.

Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required.

Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies. 

Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!

Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software before your trip. 

Paper maps are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan.

What have we missed? Recommend your favourite routes using the comments box below. 

Cycling routes in North East Scotland

Getting round Aberdeen, Speyside Way, Formartine and Buchan Way, and many leisure routes

Cycle A-way’s list of routes, maps and resources for North Easr Scotland

Journey Planner

Dundee to Arbroath (NCN1)

The Deeside Way, Aberdeen to Ballater

Moray Coastal Cycle Route

Cycling events in North East Scotland

Check out our events calendar to find a ride that suits you

Make sure your bike is working
(from our partners, Halfords)

Creaking cranks, wobbly wheels or slipping saddles are the last thing you want, but Halfords' guide to basic bike maintenance will keep you rolling smoothly. Whether you’re a regular commuter, a leisurely weekend rider, or prefer to tear it up on a serious MTB trail, signs of wear and tear might keep you off the saddle from time to time. Whilst we can’t promise to banish those roadside mishaps, we can help keep your bike tip top with our top tips!

You’re heading out on your lovely bike, with a pannier packed with your essentials. A glorious route lies ahead, but then you run into a spot of bother! Most of the time there are handy hacks you can do to tide you over whilst out and about, and we’ve taken a look into the most common bike problems and solutions…

Clicking saddle? Check that the bolts connecting the saddle to the seat post are not loose. Tighten until the saddle is firmly secured using an allen key from your trusty toolbox!

Squealing brakes? This could be down to dirt or oil on the brake pads. Give it a quick wipe down, then when you get home take the brake pads off and readjust.

Squeaky derailleur? A little lube should help. Remove any excess.

Creaky pedals? Dry pedal bearings, loose crank arms or a worn bottom bracket could be the culprit. Once home, remove and lube the pedal bearings, tighten and lube the crank arms, or replace the bottom bracket if it’s still making a fuss.

Problem areas

Some of the problems you find with your bike might need a closer look, and here’s where we can help!

Wobbling disc rotors, spongy brakes and rattling bolts needn’t be as pesky as they sound for long enough to keep you off your bike! Call and see us with your two wheels at your local Halfords, or with any other bike bothers you might have.

From as little as £15 a year, Halfords will take the labour out of looking after your bike. Halfords offer a range of care packages, they provide free fitting on all parts and accessories bought from Halfords, and even include an annual service worth £50 as part of the plan!