Length of route: 33.5 miles/53.9km
Route: Old Aberdeen-Bucksburn-Dyce-Blackburn-Kintore
Difficulty level: Medium
As I was doing some volunteering in Kintore this weekend, but had planned to do another cycle ride for some time, I decided to make the journey to Kintore by bicycle, as there are plenty of back country lanes along the way begging to be ridden on the bike. I started out as usual by leaving Old Aberdeen and taking the National Cycle Route 1 towards Dyce, which avoids most of the busy traffic, but involves a few slightly rough roads - although the off-road sections nearer to the airport are pleasant and smooth, and avoid the unpleasantries of the roundabout in the vicinity.
After going down by Dyce train station (for the airport), I turn onto the Fomartine and Buchan Way former railway for a short way before turning off onto the Pitmedden Road. Initially, this is a rough unpleasant road passing through an industrial estate, but as you come to the junction and cross over to continue on the same road, things quieten down and the vistas of the countryside start to open up, although there is a reasonable bit of climbing initially - although that simply means a great downhill on the way back. I passed a few fellow cyclists, but very few cars, on the way, all of whom nodded or acknowledged me - one of the pleasanter aspects of cycling, a bit like the greeters you meet traditionally on hiking trails.
As I was going along the back trails, I was intrigued to see an old railway carriage turned into a shed at one of the farms - it looked very old, and as the owner of the farm saw me photographing it, she informed me that it was very old, probably 1950's and that it was probably 'held together by paint'! An intriguing thing to be sure, and something you most likely wouldn't see as you go by in the car, although not many cars pass this way due to the narrowness of the path, making it perfect for cyclists.
Kintore itself is a very pleasant little town/village, with all the local produce and amenities you would expect in such an area - I had lunch in one of the local cafe's, a nice but rather salty chicken and leek soup. At the end of the day, I had the cycle back the same way I had come to look forward to, which actually involves an even nastier climb back up, thanks to the thrilling downhill I had taken on the way out. It was this that made me rank the ride overall as of medium difficulty, as the hill was not welcome at the end of the day, although I'm still thankful I was doing it on the new lighter bike rather than the heavier yellow bike - even if it did get rather wet! As I am wont to do, I made a couple of diversions on the way back, to see the runway lights of the airport, and also to see the old Dyce churchyard and some ancient monumental stones (which I didn't find, but were supposedly signposted that way). Nevertheless, this resulted in an overall milage of 33.5 miles - not bad for a day of cycling AND volunteering, but one that I slightly regretted the next day with the tiredness I felt... All in all though, apart from the rain on the way out, a pleasant and successful cycle ride, and easily the most ambitious I have yet undertaken in this area.
For full route information: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/85591411/