Classic Climbs in the Aberdeenshire Hills

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Love them or loathe them - we have some some awesome road climbs in Aberdeenshire.

With Scotland's lack of huge mountains, it’s easy to think we are short on truly brutal climbs. But think again, as Aberdeenshire has a number of iconic road climbs which are tough and challenging for a number of reasons, whether it’s the gradient, length or even the exposed locations.

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Make no mistake, these classic climbs will challenge even the fittest cyclist, so come and have a go if you think you have what it takes to tackle these tasty climbs on your bike.

Category of Bike Climbs

The concept of categorising bike climbs was introduced in the Tour de France to make the mountain points system more reflective of the relative difficulty of each climb. Climbs are graded by difficulty, with more points being awarded to the tougher ascents. So, in general the longer the climb and the steeper the gradient, the more difficult the climb is deemed to be, and the more points awarded to it. Additionally, when a climb features in a bike race, the organisers look at its location within the stage, and how far into the race the stage is being held and potentially adjust the classification to reflect its impact on the riders. That is why a climb on the last day of the Tour of Britain may be categorised higher than it would be on a single day race.

The category of climbs mentioned in this website are all based on Strava's categorisation. Strava uses a formula based solely on a climb’s length and its gradient and is not influenced by where the climb features on a cyclist’s route.
Strava takes the length of the climb in metres, and multiplies this by the gradient of the climb in percent. And, as far as Strava is concerned, a climb must have a gradient of at least 3%.

Using this calculation we have:
- 7999 or less: uncategorised climb.
- 8,000 or greater: Category 4
- 16,000 or greater: Category 3
- 32,000 or greater: Category 2
- 64,000 or greater: Category 1
- 80,000 or greater: Hors Catégorie, i.e. beyond categorisation.

Top 10 Toughest Climbs

Ask any Aberdeenshire roadie and you can bet their favourite road climb, regardless of category, is on the list below.

These ten roads climbs, in no particular order, will test even the strongest rider to the limit so fit a compact at the front and the biggest sprocket you can find at the back and get ready for some Aberdeenshire climbing "shock and awe".

The Lecht (South)

Distance: 2.58 miles   Ascent:931 ft
Gradient; 5.6% Ave  20.4%Max

Lecht by where-the-bike-takes-me
📷 by "Where The Bike Takes Me"

On the A939 the climb starts from Cockbridge. It may have a few undulations along the way, but that doesn't make it any easier!

Cycle the Lecht...


Cairn O’Mount (South)

Distance: 2.07 miles   Ascent: 1049 ft
Gradient: 9.8% Ave  18.6%Max


On the B974 this category 3 road climb starts from Clatterin Brig and continues without respite until reaching the viewpoint at the top.

Cycle the Cairn O'Mount...


Suie (North)

Distance: 1.3 miles   Ascent:560ft
Gradient; 8.4% Ave  22.5%Max

Suie by Stanley Howe
📷 Stanley Howe (cc-by-sa/2.0)

On the Suie road from Clatt the climb starts just after the junction with the Leslie road. A steady start, a steep ramp, and a long sustained push.

Cycle the Suie...


Queen's View

Distance: 3.25 miles   Ascent:930ft
Gradient; 2.7% Ave  7.2%Max

Queens View Tarland
📷 © Alan Reid (cc-by-sa/2.0)

On the B9119 the climb starts as you exit Tarland. A kick to start, a recovery flat then 2.5 miles of sustained climbing with stunning views back down the hill.

Cycle the Queen's View...



Gairnshiel (North)

Distance: 2.2 miles   Ascent:642ft
Gradient; 5.5%Ave  15.4%Max

On the A939 the climb starts shortly after the junction with the A944. A relentless climb with less than 200 metres of respite.


Gairnshiel (South)

Distance: 3.4 miles   Ascent:820ft
Gradient: 4.6%Ave  25.2%Max

On the A939 the climb starts shortly after crossing the River Gairn. It includes a short flat and 300m descent.


Suie (South)

Distance: 2.7 miles   Ascent:686ft
Gradient: 4.7%Ave  15.5%Max

On the Suie road from Tullynessle Hall, the climb starts in earnest at the junction for Tepersie Castle. A 200m respite is the most you can expect.


Cairn O’Mount (North)

Distance: 8.5 miles   Ascent:1702ft
Gradient: 3.8%Ave  24.2%Max

On the B794 the climb starts from Strachan. It has a few undulations along the way however the last 2 mile are all up.


The Cabrach (East)

Distance: 5.9 miles   Ascent:951ft
Gradient: 3%Ave  10.2%Max

On the A941 the climb starts shortly after leaving Rhynie. It has a few undulations along the way however it is still a challenge.



Distance: 5.68 miles   Ascent:888ft
Gradient: 2.9%Ave  11.2%Max

On the A93, the climb starts in earnest where the old military road joins the A93. A relatively gentle start that ramps up towards the end.