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Choosing a Cycle Route

Could use some advice from the experts. We are cycling Scotland and are trying to decide which fork in the road to take.

Currently - Glasgow > Stirling > Falkirk > Edinburgh > Kirkaldy > St Andrews > Dundee

Here is where the fork in the road is.

  1. Montrose, Stonehaven, Aberdeen then train to Inverness
  2. Perth then train to Inverness ( then onto Fort Augustus, Fort William, Oban and maybe Isle of Mull)

Are the towns in option 1 places we need to see? It gets complicated because the train we catch from Aberdeen is supposed to be on a Sunday. It doesn't look like a direct shot. Makes it tough with bikes.

Appreciate any advice or suggestions on our preliminary itinerary.

Posted by
95 posts

You should get more responses from the forums on or

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, heatingcable,

The reason that you're not seeing a direct ride from Aberdeen to Inverness is because there is railway line work between Aberdeen and Dyce. ScotRail are laying on bus service, but I'm not sure if it is all the way from Union Station to Dyce. I suspect that it is.

You could resolve this by cycling out to Dyce, although I would imagine that ScotRail have considered that some travelers may have bikes. It's not that far out to Dyce. A96 to A947 is probably the fastest way. or you could follow the bus.

As far as your plan to follow the coast road up to Stonehaven, that is a very good road, gaining in attractiveness once you pass Montrose. If you're traveling in mid July, be careful around Carnoustie. The British Open is being held there this year, and there will be many visitors unfamiliar with driving on the left.

Arbroath is a very charming town. The Declaration of Arbroath was signed at the abbey in 1320. It was the basis for the American Declaration of Independence. The abbey is well worth a visit. You may also want to try some Arbroath smokies (smoked haddock).

There's not a whole lot to see in Montrose. It has a pleasant enough town centre, and a decent beach area. One thing you may want to look out for is a monument to Bamse the Sea Dog, a St. Bernard who was well known throughout the town during World War II. His story is very touching.

Between Arbroath and Montrose is Lunan Bay, with a hikeable beach.

Once you clear Montrose, the A92 follows the coast more closely. There are several charming fishing villages along the coast, well worth a side trip. St. Cyrus, Johnshaven, Gourdon, and Catterline are all very worth investigating. Lunch at the Creel Inn in Catterline would be a good stop, although they're a bit pricey.

Just before you get to Stonehaven, you'll see a signpost for Crawton. If you follow that dead end road down to the coast, you'll find Fowlsheugh Bird Preserve, which is probably the best place to see sea birds in great numbers along Scotland's east coast. There are thousands upon thousands of all kinds of gulls, kittiewakes, guillemots, razorbills, and the occasional puffin nesting on the cliffs overlooking the North Sea. The noise is amazing! Best place to see puffins is on the cliffs past the observation hut. Just north of the hut, go around the cliffs to your left, and look down from the north side of the cliff. There's a cave in the side of the cliff, where you're likely to find puffins.

Between Crawton and Stonehaven is Dunnottar Castle. You are probably already aware of it, and I'm sure that's why you included Stonehaven in your itinerary. Once you've visited the castle, you can take the high road in to Stonehaven, past the war memorial. There's a nice view of the town from there.

The A90 is about the only way to get from Stonehaven to Aberdeen. Be really careful while cycling. People drive that section of the road as though they were competing for post position at the Indy 500. If it gets to be too much, you can turn off at Portlethen, then follow the back roads through Findon, Cove Bay, and Nigg Bay. That way will take you in to Aberdeen at Girdleness, then it's an easy run past the dolphin watch and down to Torry.

While you're in Aberdeen, if you have time, Old Aberdeen is worth a visit, as is Duthie Park. The Winter Gardens at Duthie park have a wonderful botanic garden, which contains the largest display of cacti in Britain. Best of all, it's free! Old Aberdeen, especially around the university, would be ideal for cycling, as it's a rabbit's warren of one way streets. Watch out for the cobblestones, though!

I guess what I'm saying is go with option one!

Have a wonderful time!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks Mike, that is exactly the kind of info I was looking for. In regards to the train. It seems I can book a direct train but just not on Sundays.

I apologize for the poorly worded title of my post. It really isn't about the cycling, it's more about the towns. We received some great advice onroute last year in Ireland. A bartender suggested we detour into Cong... and he was right. We would have completely missed it if not for his advice.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi again, heatingcable,

If you're going to be in Arbroath, you should check out the harbor. It's a very attractive location, with several decent restaurants, several of which sell the Arbroath smokie. The only bad thing about Arbroath harbor is the pay toilet in the visitor center (30 pence admission!), but you can always go to one of the pubs.

If you do get to Mull, be sure to check out Tobermory, and if you get to the southwest end of Mull, definitely go to Iona.

Hope you have a wonderful time!

Mike (auchterless)

p.s.: One thing that you may want to consider, especially as you cycle from Inverness to Oban, is the dreaded Scottish midge. You can check out midge forecasts by geographical area on line. Smidge, the best selling repellent in Scotland, has their own website forecast. Last time I checked, the Glencoe area was hit the worst. I'll be on the Isle of Rum in about three weeks. Rum has the largest concentration of midges of anywhere in Scotland. I'm going to try Repel on one side, and Avon's Skin So Soft repellent on the other, so I can find out which one works best. Plus a head net.

If you're cycling between now and mid-September, it's something to consider. Hopefully you'll be cycling too fast for the little buggers to catch up with you!

Posted by
4 posts

wow, I had forgot about that. We will be in Scotland from August 14 thru sept 1. I will check out that website for repellents !

Posted by
273 posts

My best friend from Maidenhead, England just took a train up to Scotland on Monday to cycle back over the next 2 weeks. A friend of ours who lives in Scotland recently reccommended "the best anti-midge repellent I've found to date is called "Expedition". She orders online, but since he was leaving only 2 days after she suggested this, I found that they sell it at a store called Blacks

And this can give the whole list of store locations:


Posted by
1376 posts

There's a Black's in Aberdeen, at the foot of George Street. Not too far from the Prince of Wales pub. There's also a Black's in Dundee, on Commercial Street, and on Argyle Street in Glasgow.

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you. I will note those locations. The product Smidge doesn't ship to Canada. I will try and find both products when in Scotland

Posted by
7 posts

Consider Macadventures! You choose a tour and they rent you the bikes, take your bags to hotels and book the hotels. Good prices.