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The route from Huntly to Dufftown is 19.2 miles long and has climbing of 1,713 feet. It has been given a difficulty rating of 7, though you might think this is slightly cruel!
Huntly has had settlements dating back to the Neolithic period. There is an excavated Iron-Age fort on the edge of town, as well as numerous Pictish remains and stones. The town is the historic home of the Gordon Highlanders Regiment, and the ruined castle is worth a visit. If you are looking for some sustenance, the shortbread maker Deans has its HQ (and a café) in the town. There is a train station in Huntly with good links south to Aberdeen and north west in to Moray and Inverness.
You head south out of Huntly and join the A96 at mile 0.6. You stay on the main road until 1.5 miles and should use caution. The first 2 miles are flat. Now heading west, you have a small climb followed by a flat section, and then embark on the first test of the day at 4.1 miles, a difficult ascent that peaks after 6.6 miles. You will then enjoy a fast descent before another tough climb which begins at mile 8.3 and finishes at the high point of 981 feet after 10.3 miles. The next section is mainly downhill, with a rise at mile 12.3, and you start the last proper climb at 14.5 miles. You go downhill again from mile 16.2, though the last mile is slightly uphill. You enter Dufftown on the A94 from the north, finishing in the town centre.
This is a beautiful cycle – there are not many tourist attractions on the route, but the scenery is great. It is classic Aberdeenshire and Moray with rolling roads in farm and woodland, but you also cycle through more remote areas surrounded by higher hills and moorland. The first few miles broadly follow the Deveron, one of north east Scotland’s great rivers. You leave the river at Haugh of Glass at mile 8 and enter a more barren landscape. You will be quite exposed so take some extra clothes and hope for a friendly wind. You are in Speyside and on the Malt Whisky Trail, and there are some world renowned whiskies made near Dufftown including the Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Mortlach and Dufftown itself. You should try to make a distillery tour and a dram part of your day.
Dufftown is part of the ancient parish of Mortlach, and you can visit the historic Mortlach Church on the south side of town. The remains of Balvenie Castle is open to the public – the original building was completed in the 12th century. The Dufftown Clock Tower is lovely and used to be the prison. The town calls itself the Malt Whisky Capital of the World and the industry is hugely important to the area, from farming and general employment to tourism.
By clicking on the ‘play’ symbol on the graphic below you can see route map. The elevation profile of the ride can be seen via the Hills tab with files for use with a GPS device also available for download. If you take any photos of the route that you’d like to share, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org