|Route outline (key)|
NCN Route 195 predominantly follows the old Deeside Railway Line from Aberdeen out to the end of the line at Ballater. This of course was a line made famous by the many trips along it of the Royal Train, carrying Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Balmoral, and later other members of the Royal Family. The line never reached the gates of the Scottish Retreat, and indeed neither does the cycle route, but a pleasant quiet road links the two.
The start of the route in the city centre is not easy to identify, but it picks up the old railway line on Polmuir Road, alongside Duthie Park, and heads west. It works its way out of the city through Garthdee and Cults, running between the River Dee and A93. Between Milltimber and Peterculter, the route crosses the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, and then just before passing the council boundary, it diverts onto a local road. A series of roads and tracks lead the route to the A93 in Drumoak, and on the edge of the village NCN195 resumes the railway line as it continues west through Crathes , and then alongside a restored section of track, home to the Royal Deeside Steam Railway.
The cycle route continues to follow the old railway line along the river bank into the centre of Banchory, but development has led to some small diversions here. From Banchory, the railway turned away from the river for many miles, curving away far to the north. As NCN195 is also mostly the Deeside Way Long distance footpath, the cycle route crosses the Dee on the B974, and takes to forest tracks through Blackhall Forest to the south of the river. A minor road then leads the route back to the riverside on the B993 at Potarch Bridge.
A slightly intermittent roadside path then follows the A93 to Kincardine o'Neil, from where the route turns a little to the north, on minor roads and tracks through Dess Wood, before resuming the railway track on its approach to Aboyne. This closely follows the A93 through the town, before the two cross to the west, albeit staying alongside each other. At Dinnet, the railway diverges from the road, sticking closer to the meandering river, and meeting the A93 once more at Cambus o'May. At Milton of Tullich, the road and old railway cross once more, with the cycle route following the latter into Ballater. The route officially ends at the old station in the town centre.
However, just as Queen Victoria's journey didn't end here, neither does the cyclists have to. It is an easy ride through the town and across the Dee on the B971 to find the B976, which continues west along the south side of the Dee to Balmoral.