Strathdon gears up to welcome cyclists

Bellabeg Park will be transformed into a campsite for the cyclists
Bellabeg Park will be transformed into a campsite for the cyclists

Strathdon is getting ready to greet hundreds of cyclists.

Bellabeg Park – the venue for the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games – is set to be transformed into a pop-up campsite for around 900 cyclists and accompanying support crew taking part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain.

The group will wheel into Bellabeg on Friday, September 13, to stay overnight having completed the seventh day of their 980-mile, nine-day ride from Land’s End to John o’Groats.

Marquees and a sea of camping tents will fill the park, which just three weeks ago played host to more than 7,500 people at the Lonach Gathering and famous march of the Lonach Highlanders.

Prior to their arrival in Strathdon late on Friday afternoon, the cyclists will have pedalled over 110 miles and ascended over 7000 feet since setting off from Hopetoun House outside Edinburgh that morning.

The route north will take them over the Forth Road Bridge, through Fife, Perth and Blairgowrie, before shifting through the gears to take on the gruelling Cairnwell Pass through Glenshee.

After some respite on the flat roads through Braemar and alongside the River Dee, the cyclists will leave Royal Deeside at Crathie.

There they will commence a challenging climb to Gairnshiel Bridge and then onwards up over the A939 to drop down into Donside at Corgarff, before heading east to Bellabeg.

With the support of the local community, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, which organises the annual Lonach event, is preparing to give the group a rousing welcome.

The Lonach Pipe Band and members of the Lonach Highlanders will greet the cyclists, while a display of Highland dancing by pupils from the Lonach Society School of Dancing will entertain them throughout the evening.

A pop-up bar run by members of the Lonach Hall committee will also be available for the participants.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “When the cyclists roll into Bellabeg Park on Friday afternoon it will look quite different from what it did a few weeks ago.

“After what will be quite a gruelling day for the riders, through spectacular scenery, they can be assured of a warm welcome, for which Lonach is famed.

“It is great that the local Strathdon community is coming together to cheer on the participants.”