PORTSOY is best known these days for hosting the annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival. Founded in 1993 and based in Portsoy’s ancient harbour, the festival draws in hundreds of visitors and is reckoned to be worth more than £4 million to the local economy. It’s a celebration of all things maritime and has grown in stature over the years.
Perhaps less well known is that Jimmy Paterson, trombonist with Dexy’s Midnight Runners, was born and raised in the Banffshire coast village (thanks to Wikipedia for that one).
I’d been planning a bike ride in the area for some time after getting out coastal rowing with the Skiffettes, a group of ladies who built their own skiff and now get out on the coast off Portsoy in their boat, the Soy Quine.
There are lots of quiet roads to ride on around here and the first stage of my circuit took me from Portsoy harbour along the coast to Banff. From the harbour I headed up past the Shore Inn to the main road through the village, the A98, and turned left.
At a sharp bend look carefully for a minor road on the left, signposted National Cycle Route 1, which climbs steeply to link with the B9139 towards Whitehills. Turbines do nothing to enhance the view but the road is relatively traffic-free at least.
Before Whitehills the NCR route goes left and drops down to the harbour, where a lovely cycle track runs all the way through caravans and Boyndie Bay to Inverboyndie. A left turn here takes you through a car park and on to another attractive harbour at Banff.
I stayed close to the shore here to meet the A98 again at the west end of the impressive bridge taking traffic over the River Deveron as it issues into Banff Bay.
Care is required here on this very busy stretch of road, especially due to the need to make a right turn at the east end of the bridge onto the A947 heading for Turriff.
I climbed up the hill and made a right turn, following the cycle route sign onto the minor road south that keeps cyclists away from the danger of the A road and also makes for Turriff.
This delightful road, following the course of the Deveron, is great to cycle on and continues for around 14 kms to Turriff.
Cycling through the centre of town in Turriff I got slightly lost, but some friendly locals pointed me to the A947 Aberdeen road, which crosses the Burn of Turriff. Shortly after this I made a right turn onto the B9024 signposted to Huntly.
Steep at first, it soon levels off for a pleasant ride through the farming country so typical of this area. Bails in the fields marked the onset of autumn and the harvest.
After 5kms I kept an eye out for a junction on the right and followed a minor road down a steep gradient to the Deveron, then back up again and on to a junction with a farm opposite, marked on the map as Auchininna.
I turned right, uphill once more to a bend in the road with a couple of picnic tables on the left and a beautiful open view over the Deveron and the patchwork of agricultural fields.
There are some wonderful names on the map hereabouts such as Wettyfoot, Penelopefield and Tappacks.
After a break I rode on down through the pretty little hamlet of Inverkeithny and round to join the A97, turning right towards Aberchirder, known locally as Foggieloan.
Just before the village I turned left on a minor road signed to Cornhill, where I continued over the crossroads on the B9023 to a junction with the B9022.
A right turn on this road took me back to the A98 on the outskirts of Portsoy.
Police vehicles had arrived at the scene of an accident here but I was soon allowed through to make my way back to Portsoy harbour and the start of my ride.