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The route from Huntly to Keith heads north and west and is 16.3 miles long. It has climbing of 741 feet and has been given a difficulty rating of 5, partly because of the prevalence of the westerly wind.
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 (including Keith, so don’t be tempted!)
Starting in the town centre, you skirt the north side of Huntly before leaving the town after 1 mile and crossing the River Deveron. The first 1.7 miles are rolling flat before your first climb of the day, peaking at 2.7 miles in the middle of the Bin Forest. You will then enjoy a descent before heading straight back uphill at mile 5.5. This is the hardest climb of the day and there are couple of short sections that are very steep. The high point of the route is 512 feet at mile 8. There is then a very steep downhill before you hit rolling roads at mile 9.5. Don’t be deceived though – this section is actually slowly rising, and does so all the way to the finish. The last mile is leg-sapping as you climb into Keith, crossing the River Isla and entering the town from the north and finishing in the centre.
This route is more about scenery than tourist sights, though there are numerous Pictish and Neolithic pieces. It is classic Aberdeenshire, rolling roads through farm and woodland. Huntly Castle is very close to the starting point, and you pass the remains of a stone circle and iron stone at mile 4.4. You leave the Deveron at mile 5.1 where you pass the stone symbols at the aptly named Whitestones House. At Ruthven you pass the remains of St Carol’s Church, and you join the River Isla at mile 10.6 with Balloch Wood on your left.
Keith is a small town in Moray. The oldest part dates back to 1180 and developed around the bridge over the River Isla to the north. The Jacobites’ fought and won a skirmish near the town in 1746. There is an annual country show, and Keith is on the Malt Whisky trail. The town boasts three distilleries – Strathmill, Glenkeith and Strathisla – as well as housing the headquarters of Chivas Regal. The remains of Milton Tower, built in 1480, neighbour the railway station and there are a variety of café and supermarket options for food and drink.
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 email@example.com