North East 250
|From:||The Devils Elbow (NO135755)|
|Via:||Braemar, Ballater, Aberdeen, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff, Buckie|
|Distance:||229 miles (368.5 km)|
The NE250 (North East 250-miles) is a comparatively new addition to the tourist routes in the north of Scotland, having been launched in November 2017. It has been created to try and emulate the success of the NC500 around the north Highlands, and inevitably, due to the large number of tourist routes already present in the region, it overlaps with several of them.
The route seems to start on the A93 just below the Devils Elbow, and climb up over the Cairnwell Pass, past the Glenshee Ski Centre. After passing through Braemar, famed for its royal connections, it continues eastwards along the A93, following the River Dee downstream, and also the Deeside Tourist Route. This takes it past Balmoral and through the pretty towns of Ballater and Aboyne. After Kincardine o'Neil, the route turns away from the river on the B993 towards Torphins, but bypasses the town on an unclassified road to reach the A980. The route then uses the B977, B9125 and an unclassified road to return to the A93 near Peterculter.
Rather than visiting the city centre, the NE250 follows the current route of the A90 around the edge of Aberdeen to Bridge of Don, then turns north, before forking right onto the A975. This pleasant coastal route is part of the North East Coastal Trail through Newburgh and Cruden Bay to rejoin the A90. Unlike Aberdeen, the NE250 does pass through Peterhead, on the A982, and then into Fraserburgh. The scenic qualities of the coast improve now as the route turns west, following the B9031 past a mixture of little fishing villages, including famous Pennan, and larger 'resorts'.
The A98 is used to pass through Macduff and Banff, with their wealth of attractions, and then the route takes the B9038 into Whitehills. Continuing West on the B9139, pretty Portsoy is soon reached, and then on to Cullen with its magnificent railway viaducts overlooking the fine beach. The A942 is followed north to the villages of Portknockie, then Findochty, before reaching the working harbours of Buckie. Keeping to the coast, on the A990, and then an unclassified road, the route reaches Spey Bay, at the mouth of the River Spey. Turning south, the river is follows inland on the B9104 to Fochabers, and once across the Spey, the B9015 continues the journey into the heart of Speyside.
The Whisky industry is synonymous with this part of Scotland, and it is no surprise therefore that the route passes within a mile or two of at least a dozen distilleries as it works its way south west, even if Dufftown, the Whisky capital is bypassed. The A941 and A95 carry the route as far as Ballindalloch, where the B9008 is used to reach beautiful Glen Livet - home to another Distillery or two. The final section of the route now lies ahead as it reaches the A939 at Tomintoul and starts the fantastic ascent of the Lecht, with the breathtaking descent to Cock Bridge to the south. More mountain roads continue this exhilarating journey south, finally turning onto the B976 to reach the A93 near Balmoral.