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The route from Insch to Alford heads mainly south and is 10.7 miles long. There is climbing of 797 feet and this route has been given a difficulty rating of 5.
Insch is a village in the Garioch area of Aberdeenshire (pronounced “Geery”). The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic word innis, meaning island, or in this case, “firm ground in a marsh”. Bennachie and the Mither Tap dominate the landscape in this part of the world. Insch is not a big place but has some fine architecture and some beautiful churches. The town also has a railway with good connections south to Aberdeen and northwest to Moray and Inverness.
On leaving Insch you immediately head into farmland. You slowly rise for the first 1.6 miles before a flat section and then the toughest climb of the day from mile 3. It only lasts one mile and peaks at the high point of 853 feet, but it will surely warm you up! You then have a long descent to mile 7.3, with the final 3.4 miles being in easy, rolling countryside. You enter Alford from the north and finish in the centre of the village.
You will reach Auchleven at mile 2.7 and pass close to Lickleyhead Castle, a good example of an l-plan castle dating to around 1600. The roads in this part of Aberdeenshire are very pretty and dominated by Bennachie, which actually consists of 11 different hills and a forest. Unsurprisingly, Bennachie offers superb panoramic views across the whole of Aberdeenshire. You pass close to Castle Forbes at Keig (mile 6.7) and the remains of a stone circle at mile 9.7 (Montgarrie). After crossing the River Don you will have Haughton Country Park on your left, with pretty woodlands and meadows set in 40 hectares.
Alford is a large village 23 miles west of Aberdeen. The name comes from the Scots auld fort, and it is the “home” of the Aberdeen Angus cattle breed, which is celebrated by a life-size model of a bull on the edge of town. There are a number of excellent cafes in Alford where you can enjoy a well-deserved slice of cake. For a small place, there is a great deal to do here – The Alford Valley Railway; Grampian Transport Museum; and the Alford Heritage Centre. Craigivar Castle is 6 miles south and is well worth a detour, with the pink harled castle allegedly being the inspiration for Walt Disney’s motif.
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
Onward rides from Alford can be found here