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The route from Insch to Huntly heads west and then north and is 14.8 miles long. Total climbing is 827 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.
You will head west out of the centre of Insch. The hardest cycling is early in the route. You head straight uphill for the first 2.1 miles, before a descent and some flat and then another climb that peaks at the high point of 725 feet after 4.1 miles. The remainder of the cycle is either flat or downhill, though it wouldn’t be Aberdeenshire without a few bumps along the road! You enter the area known as Strathbogie at mile 8, with the River Bogie on your right. You are now on the Old Military Road (the A97) and stay on it for 6.6 miles. This is quite a busy and fast road, so please take care. You arrive at the outskirts of Huntly and have to navigate a roundabout at mile 14.3 across the A90 – again, please use caution. You will cycle through Huntly for half a mile to your finishing spot in the town centre.
Since you are in Aberdeenshire, you will mainly be in farm and woodland! The initial section out of Insch is steeped in history – a fort and settlement on the Hill of Dunnideer (mile 1.1); a stone circle (mile 2); the remains of a moat and the Castle of Wardhouse (mile 2.5); and a hut circle (mile 4.4). You pass Ardmore Distillery in Kennethmont at mile 6 and it is well worth taking a tour. We cannot recommend drinking and cycling, but you could perhaps buy a 50ml bottle of Ardmore single malt to enjoy at the end of your day. Or maybe a bigger bottle if you have a spare bidon rack on your bike!
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 post-cycle sustenance, the shortbread maker Deans has its HQ (and a café) in the town, and there are a number of other eateries and supermarkets. There is a train station in Huntly.
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
Onward rides from Huntly can be found here