Works begin to realign National Cycle Network Route 1 in Aberdeenshire

Sustrans Scotland’s Network Development Fund is helping fund improvements to the Formartine and Buchan Way. When complete, this will enable more people to walk, wheel and cycle from Newmachar to Auchnagatt.

The Formartine and Buchan Way is a 40-mile path along a former railway line which runs from Dyce to Fraserburgh and features a 13-mile spur from Maud to Peterhead. Credit: Aberdeenshire Council, 2023.

On the 20 November, a programme of improvements started on the historic Formartine and Buchan Way.

When complete, the project – which forms a major realignment of National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 1 – will enable even more people to walk, wheel and cycle from Newmachar to Auchnagatt and beyond.

Works are anticipated to finish early next year.

Inspiration behind the project

The Formartine and Buchan Way is a 40-mile path along a former railway line which runs from Dyce to Fraserburgh and features a 13-mile spur from Maud to Peterhead.

A haven for people walking, wheeling and cycling, it closely passes a host of popular attractions along the way, including several historic stone circles.

It is hoped that the ongoing improvements will help make the active travel route safer and more accessible for residents and visitors to the area alike.   

Works are taking place over the next few months to ensure the Formartine and Buchan Way is a space where everyone, regardless of age or ability, can enjoy the benefits of exercising and being outside. Credit: Aberdeenshire Council, 2023.

Paths for everyone

Several works are taking place over the next few months to ensure the Formartine and Buchan Way is a space where everyone, regardless of age or ability, can enjoy the benefits of exercising and being outside.

Realigning 30km of National Cycle Network Route 1 from on-road to traffic-free will reduce car dependence by providing a safe and accessible alternative.

Improvements will be made to the quality and width of the existing path to ensure that they are suitable for all users, while upgraded signage and wayfinding will make it easier to navigate.

Unnecessary barriers that currently prevent people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters, adapted bikes and buggies from accessing the route are being removed.

Five of the active travel bridges are also going to be replaced, and repair work is scheduled for Ythan Viaduct.

Welcome news for the area

Ahead of the works starting, Cllr Alan Turner, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) and the Nestrans board, reflected on the significance of the investment for the local area.

He said: “This is tremendous news for the north-east of Scotland, and we are very grateful for the significant funding being made available by the Scottish Government, Sustrans Scotland and Nestrans, to have these improvements undertaken.

“These improvements will make a massive difference to the communities along the Formartine and Buchan Way such as Newmachar and Auchnagatt, and I am confident it will encourage those from other areas to come and make good use of this safe, accessible route.”

Cllr Isobel Davidson, ISC vice-chair and Nestrans board member, added: “The old railway line is a real treasure for the north-east and provides a route which everyone can enjoy. Whether you are walking or cycling, use a wheelchair or mobility scooter, the Formartine and Buchan Way is a great asset to enjoy the great outdoors and take in our wonderful scenery.

“As a council we continue to make tremendous inroads into improving health and wellbeing in our communities and a key focus of those efforts is to make walking, wheeling and cycling easier for everyday shorter journeys. I will certainly look forward to travelling along the improved route upon its completion in the Spring of next year.”

The programme includes realigning 30km of National Cycle Network Route 1 from on-road to traffic-free which will reduce car dependence by providing a safe and accessible alternative. Credit: Aberdeenshire Council, 2023.

Chris Brace, Principal Network Development Manager at Sustrans Scotland, said: “We are delighted to work alongside our partners to upgrade the Formartine and Buchan Way.

“When complete, the newly widened paths and removal of barriers along the route will enable more residents and visitors to the area to walk, wheel and cycle between Newmachar and Auchnagatt and beyond.

“The realignment of 30km of National Cycle Network Route 1 will reduce car dependence by providing a safe and accessible alternative.

“We hope this will give more people, regardless of age or ability, the confidence to make healthier and more sustainable choices for their everyday journeys.”

Minister for Active Travel, Patrick Harvie, concluded: “I’m pleased to welcome the start of improvement works on the Formartine and Buchan Way.

“Our investment will make it easier for people to access and enjoy local attractions by walking, wheeling and cycling.

“Taking 30 kilometers of this popular route off road, coupled with barrier removal at key locations, will make this route both safer and more accessible than before”. 

“For our health, wellbeing and environment – I am pleased to see an increasing number of ambitious projects like this, right across the country.

“That’s why the Scottish Government has committed to investing over £320 million, or 10% of the transport budget, on active travel by 2024-25.”

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