Interest in creating an off-road pedestrian/cycleway using the former railway line between Aberdeen and Ballater, known as the Deeside Line, dates back to 1971 and the publication of the Parham Report which examined the potential of using the old line for recreational purposes. This was possibly the first expression of the concept of a Deeside Way providing a long distance route reflecting the pleasure of quiet travel along Deeside.
Sections of the Deeside Line were acquired for public ownership, Aberdeen to Peterculter and Cambus O’May to Ballater, with the remainder of the line reverting to private ownership. In 1992 Kincardine and Deeside District Council undertook a study into the feasibility of creating a route from Aberdeen to Ballater to be known as the Deeside Way.
Since those early days, the route has been developed in sections as funding and resources have become available. Several partner organisations have been involved in taking the project forward including Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, Cairngorms National Park, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Enterprise Grampian and Sustrans. Key to the success of the project has been the support of local landowners and communities along the way.
From Aberdeen to Banchory and from Aboyne to Ballater the route mainly follows the old Deeside Line but between Banchory and Aboyne the route utilises forest tracks, woodland paths and field margins. This is because the old railway headed north as it left Banchory to Torphins and Lumphanan before returning to the Dee valley at Dess.
The Deeside Way is nearing completion with only a short missing section east of Aboyne and plans are underway to extend the path from Ballater to Braemar. Popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders, the Deeside Way links communities along its route and also links with other path networks and outdoor attractions across Deeside.