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Formartine and Buchan Way

The Formartine and Buchan Way is an exciting and safe cycle path suitable for cyclists of all ability. The cycle route is built on the bed of the former Formartine and Buchan railway therefore any gradients encountered are shallow. Since closure of the rail line in the 1960s, some of the bridges have been removed, however ramps have been constructed to allow safe and easy access to and from the cycle trail at road crossings.
 
The F&B Way starts at Dyce Railway station and continues some 25 miles through the heart of rural Aberdeenshire to Maud where it splits. Continuing North for 15 miles takes you to Fraserburgh, whereas veering East will take you to Peterhead some 13 miles distant.
 
The Buchan Way, as it is often called, passes through (or close to) many place of interest including Aden Country Park, Drinnies Wood Observatory, Strichen Stone Circle and Deer Abbey. These all make interesting detours, or destinations for a picnic.

 
The Route
Because the cycle way is based on an old railway line, navigation is simple - in fact you can't go wrong!
All villages and towns mentioned below have car parks where you can drive to and leave your car if you want to tackle the route in stages.
The path is shared with pedestrians (especially dog walkers) and occassionally horse riders, so do watch out for them.
 
The cycle route starts in Dyce, at the far end of the railway station carpark. Dyce has a small selection of shops, bars and hotels.
From Dyce the way travels north skirting Newmachar, then on to the small village of Udny Station. Both Newmachar and Udny Station have carparks and public houses for much needed refreshment.
Leaving Udny Station the way continues north east to Ellon, the largest town on the route. Ellon offers shops, cafes, restaurant and bars.
The next stop on the way is Auchnagatt, a small village with a public house, about 6 miles north of Ellon.
From Auchnagatt, the way continues to Maud where you have a choice to make.
 
Travelling east you will skirt Old Deer, go through Mintlaw, and pass close to Longside before arriving in Peterhead. Each of the villages enroute boast public houses so the 13 miles from Maud to Peterhead shouldn't be a dry run!
 
In Maud if you choose to continue north you will pass through Strichen and around Lonmay before arriving in Fraserburgh.
 
Disappointingly, there is a section between Maud and Bruckley Bridge that is unsurfaced so cyclists are diverted onto the public road - not ideal for the inexperienced cyclist or for young children.
 
If you want to follow the cycle way on an OS map then you'll need both OS maps 30 and 38.
and Landranger (38) Aberdeen, Inverurie & Pitmedden (OS Landranger Map)

 
Wildlife
Like most old railway lines, the Formartine and Buchan way acts as a valuable corridor for wildlife by linking isolated woods, crossing waterways and marshes and providing a sanctuary for plants, animals, birds and insects.
Deer, fox, weasel, stoat and badgers all use the old railway line. Early morning and dusk are the best times for spotting them.
The old railway embankments and cuttings also provide a home for a wide variety of fauna which attracts a great variety of insects and butterflies. Flowers to look out for include rosebay willowherb, harebells, oxeye daises, yellow toadflax, foxgloves and red campion. Dog violets attract pearl bordered fritillary butterflies; an increasingly rare butterfly.
Early colonising trees such as birch, willow and elder are easily spotted. Not so common, but still easily found in shadier spots are gnarled elms and ashes. Other colonisers much in evidence are gorse, broom and brambles.
With all this potential food and shelter it is not surprising that birds are attracted to the cycle trail. Thrushes, blackbirds wintering redwings, partridge and pheasant are all there to be spotted.

 
History
Approval to build a railway line from Dyce to Peterhead with a branch at Mintlaw to Fraserburgh was granted by the government of the day to The Formartine and Buchan Railway Company on the 23rd July 1858 when they passed the Formartine and Buchan Railway Act. The 29 mile stretch joining Dyce and Mintlaw (Old Deer) was opened 3 years later on the 18th July 1861 with the remaining 13 miles to Peterhead following a year later on the 3rd July. The 15 mile Fraserburgh branch took a further 3 years before opening on the 24th April 1865.
The line was operated by the Great North of Scotland Railway Company (GNSR) which was incorporated into the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1923 before becoming part of the nationalised railway system (British Rail) on 1st January 1948.
Lord Beeching's cuts of the early 1960's condemned the line to closure with the last regular passenger trains running to Peterhead in May 1965 and to Fraserburgh in October 1965. Freight trains used the line to Peterhead until September 1970, and to Fraserburgh until October 1979. The line was then abandoned until Grampian Regional Council had the foresight to purchase it in 1981.
In 1987 the Buchan Countryside Group began work on the abandoned line to turn it into a shared cycle and walkway, and a linear nature reserve. This work continues until today through maintenance and improvements to the way.
Its success is evident from its inclusion into the National Cycle Network - a series of linked traffic free paths linking towns and villages throughout the UK.
If the history of the railway, and the area in general interests you then there are a number of good books and DVDs around that will give you some details, atmospheric pictures, and perhaps even rekindle some memories. Here are a couple to get you thinking, click on the image to find out more..
 
    

 
Other Cycle Trails to Try
Other cycle friendly trails to explore in the area include:
 
Bennachie Forest Trails A variety of way marked trails on the gentle slopes of the iconic Bennachie, ideal for families.
 
The Deeside Way follows the route of the Old Deeside Railway Line from Aberdeen to Ballater
 
The Isla Way follows the Isla valley from Dufftown to Keith
 


 

 
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