An £896,000 programme of improvements to the historic and popular Formartine and Buchan Way has begun.
Once completed, the works – which form a major realignment of the existing National Cycle Network (NCN) – will enable even more people to walk, wheel and cycle, along with equestrian use, from Newmachar to Auchnagatt and beyond.
The Formartine and Buchan Way improvements are being supported by funding from the Scottish Government through Sustrans Scotland’s Network Development Fund, delivered in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council.
A further £350,000 from Nestrans is also to be invested in a scheme of further improvements along the wider length of the route including the installation of new bridges and access point improvements.
The 40-mile path along a former rail line runs from Dyce to Fraserburgh and features a 13-mile spur from Maud to Peterhead.
A haven for people walking, wheeling and cycling, along with equestrian use, the Formartine and Buchan Way passes close to a host of popular attractions along its route including Aden Country Park, Deer Abbey, Drinnie’s Wood Observatory and several historic stone circles.
The improvements – which are aimed for completion in the spring of 2024 – will create a safer and more accessible active travel route and will include:
- Upgrading path surfaces in key areas so that they are suitable for all users
- Widening paths where possible to ensure that anyone regardless of ability can share them
- Removing unnecessary barriers which prevent people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters, adapted bikes and buggies from accessing the path; and installation of new accessible de-mountable bollards.
- Realigning 30km of National Cycle Network Route 1 from on-road to traffic-free
- Improving signage and wayfinding along the path
- Replacement of 5 active travel bridges
- Repair and refurbishment work of Arch 4 of the Ythan Viaduct
Disruption to route users will be kept to a minimum as much as possible as the works are undertaken. It will result in the temporary closure of sections of the route at times. These will be sign posted locally along with diversions where possible, and publicised on the council’s website.
Local communities and groups are being asked to help identify additional access points or enhancements which will further widen the appeal of the route.
Cllr Alan Turner, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) and the Nestrans board, said: “This is tremendous news for the north-east of Scotland and we are very grateful for the significant funding being made available by Sustrans, Transport 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.”
Minister for Active Travel Patrick Harvie said: “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. 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.”
Chris Brace, Principal Network Development Manager at Sustrans Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working 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.”