Coast and Castles North (Edinburgh to Aberdeen)

Route Details

  • From - To: Edinburgh to Aberdeen via Dundee
  • Distance: 172 miles
  • National Cycle Network: Route 1 (options to use Route 76, Route 766, Route 776 and Route 777)

A dedicated page lists any major route closures and diversions for the National Cycle Network in Scotland.

Route Description

The 172 mile (277Km) Coast and Castles North route extends from Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, along the Forth Estuary, across the Kingdom of Fife and up the North Sea coast to Aberdeen, the Granite City.  Along the way there are stunning views of sweeping beaches and romantic ruined castles.

The route leaves Edinburgh and heads to Queensferry with great views of the spectacular Forth Railway Bridge, a monument to great engineering achievement.

After crossing the Forth Road bridge, it's on to Fife where there is a choice of route heading towards Dundee. Route 1 heads inland through Dunfermline, over the Cleish Hills (very steep gradient on north side) to Kinross, around Loch Leven, to Falkland, St Andrews and then on to Tayport and across the River Tay to Dundee. An alternative is to follow Route 76 from Inverkeithing along the coast to Kirkcaldy and then Route 766 to Glenrothes. Shortly after here, you can join Route 1 to St Andrews or head west on Route 1 to Falkland and take Route 776 to Newburgh and then along the south side of the River Tay on Route 777 to Newport-on-Tay and across the Tay Road Bridge to Dundee.  Both routes take you through the Kingdom of Fife with its low-lying countryside, pretty villages and historical sites. There are many 'links' golf courses around the coastline of Fife. One of the most famous is at St. Andrews, the famous university town, full life and character, plus the ruins of the once magnificent cathedral.

Across the River Tay lies Dundee (the cycle lane across the Tay Road Bridge has a protected cycle and pedestrian path between the two lanes of traffic - accessed by a lift at the north end and a ramp/underpass at the south end). The route hugs the North Sea coastline as it heads north, with the occasional foray inland. From Dundee there is a 17-mile stretch to Arbroath which is almost entirely traffic-free and flat. Beyond Arbroath, the route mainly follows minor roads between the coastal fishing villages and towns. Arbroath, famous for its smoked fish (smokies), Montrose, also well known for its tidal basin and wildlife, while near Stonehaven the route goes close to the cliff top ruins of Dunnottar Castle. Finally, its a well earned visit to the 'granite city' of Aberdeen - there is a wonderful view across the city and its golden sands as you round the headland at Girdle Ness.

NOTE: Near the National Nature Reserve south of St Cyrus is a very steep hill, which heavily laden tourers may wish to avoid by taking the A92 between the viaduct over the River North Esk and St Cyrus. At Johnshaven, the traffic-free route down by the shore is rough and stoney and, again, heavily laden tourers and those on road bikes might prefer to cycle on the A92, from where there are lovely views over the coastline. 

NOTE: We have been contacted by Queensferry Recreation Centre in Ashburnham Road, South Queensferry (next to Queensferry High School) and right on National Cycle Route 1. Cyclists are welcome to use the facilities, which include toilets and showers - or just to have a wee break from cycling. Could be useful for day trips or for long distance tourers. For more information, Tel: 0131 319 3222 or email: [email protected]  and ask for the duty manager.  

Things to see and do

  • Queensferry
  • Loch Leven
  • Lomond Hills Regional Park
  • St Andrews Golf Course
  • Eden Estuary

Related maps

Download Edinburgh, Fife, Central and Borders (pdf) and Firth of Tay to Moray (pdf) map leaflets.

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Map shows the National Cycle Network and local routes in this area.


The Coast and Castles North route begins in Edinburgh, crossing the Firth of Forth into the Kingdom of Fife with its beautiful countryside. The route then follows the coast north passing through fishing villages and historic sites, such as Dunnottar Castle, on its way to Aberdeen.

172 miles