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COAST AND CASTLES NORTH


Route Summary

The northern section of the Coast and Castles route picks up where the south section left off: in Edinburgh, where the volcanic bulk of Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park looms above a varied and gabled skyline. It heads into Fife, commonly described as "fringed with gold" with its sandy beaches and prosperous fishing villages, and samples rocky headlands, historic castles and dense forests along quiet roads as it crosses Angus on the way to Aberdeen, the Granite City.

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© Tejvan Pettinger

Perhaps the sea breeze is the lure, or the long, smooth roads; perhaps it's the thought of coming across another sandy bay, with a new set of rock pools and cradling cliffs to explore; or perhaps it's the gentleness of the route, the way the front wheel leads the way alongside lochs and through the shadows of historic castles.

The undeniable truth is that Coast and Castles is a truly memorable route, from its wilding landscape and battle-scarred past to its varied birdlife and fish cuisine. A fantastic Scottish ride for anyone looking for a gentler route with plenty to see along the way.


TOURING HIGHLIGHTS

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© Flickpicpete © Smudge © Kelly Colgan Azar

Wildlife is abundant along the route, especially in and around the tidal basin at Montrose, home to arctic terns, oystercatchers, geese and curlew, to name a few. Seals are frequent visitors to the beaches at Tentsmuir, while red squirrels make their homes in wooded areas. Torry Battery provides the perfect spot to look out over Aberdeen Bay, and perhaps catch a glimpse of bottle-nosed dolphins playing there.

ELEVATION VARIED

The route undulates at its start in Edinburgh, and begins a steady climb shortly after departing Queensferry to a peak in Blairadam Forest. It would be a long, steady descent from here if not for the interruption of a few lesser climbs, the sharpest of which occurs shortly after departing Falkland.

Once past St Andrews, the ride levels out; three hills pose pleasant challenges on the way to Montrose. The route regains its undulation on the way to St Cyrus, diving sharply into Johnshaven and climbing abruptly before Inverbervie, and retains this hilly nature all the way to the final slow slope and level section into Aberdeen.

Route profile

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THE TERRAIN

  • Cycle lanes
  • Quiet roads
  • Traffic-free cyclepaths
  • Forest track

© Sam Saunders

Predominately traffic-free on its way through Edinburgh to Inverkeithing, the route follows back roads through Fife all the way to Falkland. From here, minor roads press on to and through St Andrews. Well-maintained forest track leads through Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve.

A section of road-riding gives way to traffic-free cyclepaths into and through Dundee, all the way out to Arbroath and reoccurring when the route reaches Montrose. A section of smooth main road provides staggering views between St Cyrus and Inverbervie, interspersed with minor roads through to Stonehaven until they take over altogether, with a few further traffic-free sections between Portlethen and Aberdeen.

Route NEWS

12/06/2017 Update
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Route Details

Length: 170 miles / 272 km
Start & end: Edinburgh / Aberdeen
Season: 19th March to 15th October

Itineraries


TOUR CODE ITINERARY NO LUGGAGE
TRANSFER
WITH LUGGAGE
TRANSFER
GRADE more info more info  
C-CCN1 4 nights, 3 days £300 £455 Epic More Info Book Now
C-CCN2 6 nights, 5 days £450 £615 Hard More Info Book Now
C-CCN3 7 nights, 6 days £525 £710 Moderate More Info Book Now

The above itineraries show our preferred overnight stops. If accommodation is unavailable at any of these locations, we may alter the itinerary slightly.

Please note that if you choose not to book luggage transfers for your holiday, you must make sure that you are able to carry all of your luggage with you for the duration of the holiday, whether this be via the use of panniers or any other method you wish. Ensure that you test the weight of your luggage while riding well in advance, so that you are comfortable transporting your own luggage during your holiday. We particularly recommend booking mountain biking holidays with lugagge transfers included.


Pricing Information

Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are riding on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:

  • Solo rider supplement: £50 per person / per night
  • Single supplement: £20 per person / per night

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

  • Extra night (Standard) : £50 per person / per night
  • Extra night (Edinburgh) : £75 per person / per night

What's Included

  • Accommodation in en-suite rooms with private bathrooms (where available) in selected hotels, inns and guesthouses along the trail.
  • Breakfast each day.
  • A comprehensive information pack containing maps and/or guide books, a full itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night, information about facilities and places of interest along the trail and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.
  • Emergency assistance.

Travel Information

Detailed travel information is sent to you in your holiday pack, but we have provided a summary below.


By Air
The most convenient major city and international airport is Edinburgh International Airport.

By Rail
There is a railway station at the start of the route (Edinburgh), and one at the end of the route (Aberdeen).

From London - Trains run regularly between Heathrow or Gatwick Airports and North Queensferry. You can catch a train from London Kings Cross directly to Edinburgh Waverley.

Please note that most train lines will allow for bikes to be taken on board. We advise that you check on https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ as you may need to book a space for your bike or there may be a limit as to how many bikes the train can store.

By Car
For advice on driving to the start of the trail, please visit www.theaa.com which has a very useful route planner.

Please note that most buses in the UK are unable to store bikes on board so we would recommend avoiding this form of transport.

Return to Start
The easiest and fastest way to return to the start of the tour is to take a direct train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh Waverley.

Extra Night / Rest Day

As you cycle through the dramatic Scottish landscape, you will undoubtedly come across a variety of areas that invite further exploration, from fascinating historical towns to lively cities packed with invaluable facilities. Adding in a few extra nights into your cycling holiday will give you ample time to discover all the hidden gems along this remarkable trail.

The capital city of Edinburgh at the start of the trail is a fantastic choice for an extra night's stay, offering a vast amount to see and do. Walk between the stone townhouses in the World Heritage Site of Old Town and New Town; visit Edinburgh Castle, perched atop the remains of an extinct volcano; or take in the incredible city skyline from Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park, not to mention the countless museums, galleries, theatres and other landmarks that Edinburgh offers. There is certainly something here to satisfy everyone's tastes, including modern and traditional shops, markets, bars and restaurants galore, as well as plenty of health centres and spas for those in need of a little TLC to get warmed up for the adventure ahead.

Cyclers with a keen interest in Scottish history should consider spending an extra day or two in Dunfermline, otherwise known as Scotland's Ancient Capital. There are a wide number of historical venues such as the royal palace, a 12th century abbey - which is the final resting place of Robert the Bruce and 11 other Scottish kings and queens - the restored 15th century Abbot House and the cave in which St Margaret bathed the feet of the poor. As well as the town's royal and monastic past, Dunfermline also has plenty of places to eat and drink, from traditional taverns and inns to contemporary bistros and international cuisine, guaranteed to satisfy every taste.

Dundee is another good option for a rest day, with plenty to see and do to satisfy all interests. Not only is there a vast array of indoor and outdoor activities on offer - including the Green's Cycleway which takes you around the edges of the city itself - but there are also many historical sites of interest to discover. Those interested in medieval history can visit the likes of Mercat Cross, Mains Castle and Claypotts Castle, while those looking for more industrial history can see Cox's Stack and the Tay Rail and Road Bridges, among many other fascinating landmarks that illustrate the progression of the local area from as far back as the 13th century.

Finally, the striking granite city of Aberdeen, nestled amongst the hills and stretching out to the coast, is a perfect place to spend an extra night, especially if you want to extend your holiday that little bit longer. Whether you're after a shopping trip, a chance to discover art and culture or simply time to explore the many great attractions, Aberdeen has entertainment in abundance. While the coastline is one of the best places to spot wildlife such as seabirds and dolphins, the Cairngorms National Park is full of peaks and deep glens that are also home to rare animals such as red deer, golden eagles and red squirrels, giving wildlife lovers plenty to look out for.


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GRADE 1: Beginner

Daily distance: approx. 10 – 20 miles / 16 – 32 km
These itineraries are perfect for beginner cyclists, families or explorers eager to sight-see along the route. Expect plenty of time to relax along the way thanks to short-mileage days, with barely a hill in sight!

GRADE 2: Easy

Daily distance: approx. 15 – 25 miles / 24 – 40 km
With longer-mileage days, these itineraries will suit occasional riders who want a bit more of a challenge. As they still steer clear of steeper or more frequent climbs, they're perfect for quick riding, so you can still make plenty of time for lunch or a spot of exploration.

GRADE 3: Moderate

Daily distance: approx. 20 – 40 miles / 32 – 64 km
Longer daily distances team with a few challenging sections on these itineraries, ideal for regular cyclists confident in their fitness. Exploration stops may require an extra rest day - but there should still be time for a relaxing lunch!

GRADE 4: Hard

Daily distance: approx. 25 – 50 miles / 40 – 80 km
If you're looking to test your abilities as a keen cyclist, these are the itineraries for you. The daily mileages aren't just high, they may also include tough or frequent climbs. Get ready to pedal hard and push yourself!

GRADE 5: Epic

Daily distance: approx. 50 miles + / 80 km +
For these itineraries, you're going to need previous experience cycling long distances over consecutive days. Each is designed to test your strength and your stamina, with high mileage days and tough, frequent climbs.

*** Occasionally our itineraries can straddle between two levels of difficulty, such as 'Easy-Moderate' or 'Hard-Epic' etc. This can be for a number of reasons, such as if there is a wide range of distances between the days of the itinerary, or if the distances are ‘Easy’ but the hills and terrain involved are a bit tricky and more ‘moderate’ etc. If you require more information about any of our itineraries, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will be more than happy to offer advice and guidance.

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